IIDEX Woodshop Designer Spotlight | Paus + Grün

This is the 5th in a series of 10 posts where we will be placing the spotlight on the amazing talent signed up for the IIDEX Woodshop initiative. This week: Paus + Grün.

P+G Portrait

Paus + Grün Inc. are a small group of carpenters and designers  who specialize in creating innovative and durable furniture from salvaged wood taken from local barns, historic buildings and about-to-be-disposed trees. Doing so, they minimize environmental impact and add depth to all their creations.

We got in touch with Paus + Grün and they had a few thoughts about the IIDEX Woodshop competition, working with ash and those pesky Emerald Ash Borers (EAB):

ideacious: IIDEX Woodshop has a strong narrative going for it — a city and IIDEX supported initiative to use a portion of the 200,000+ ash trees the Emerald Ash Borer will bring down over the next 5 years. How do you plan to embrace this narrative through the work you submit?

P+G: When people see wood reclaimed from old barns or other buildings used in furniture, they understand that it is beautiful not only for it’s imperfections, patina, and history, but also because it is ethical, having come usually from a local source, being a reused material, and requiring very little in the way of additional processing beyond a bit of nail pulling and drying. By highlighting the unique beauty and versatility of Ash in our work, we hope to help raise it’s aesthetic status, making it a little more familiar and maybe even trendy in peoples minds, and hope that as awareness of the Emerald Ash Borer spreads, thanks to projects like IIDEX Woodshop, people in Toronto and elsewhere will begin to see Ash wood used around them and in locally made furniture, and know that it is an ethical, sensible choice. Like wood reclaimed from barns and buildings, utilizing the many trees brought down by the Emerald Ash Borer will on the whole prevent the cutting of healthy, living trees.

Abigail Chair

From an aesthetic perspective, many designers opt to work with rich woods like Walnut or Maple. What are your thoughts on using Ash as your primary material? Is it a challenge, does it change your process, or do you simply disagree and think Ash is amazing?

For us, Ash is a welcome departure from the prettier, richer woods we see more often in woodworking and furniture design. Ash has brightness and texture that give it a crisp and interesting character. So, we like it. It is also versatile, workable and strong as heck, and our work will rely on at least a couple of those qualities. No complaints here.

Allan Coffee Table

And finally, what’s something that you’re really into right now?

We love working with reclaimed wood and are always glad to see it being used. As charming as the rustic look can be, we want to see the use of reclaimed wood survive the trend, and become a standard in fine, contemporary furniture-making as well as more rustic creations. We are in to anything that bridges this gap effectively. Aside from furniture, we are in to BBQ’ing straight from the parking-lot vegetable garden behind our shop, holding questionable and experimental musical jams above the shop, and getting outside as much as possible.

Stay tuned for our next IIDEX Woodshop Designer Spotlight: Brothers Dressler!

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IIDEX Woodshop Designer Spotlight | 608|Design

This is the 4th in a series of 10 posts where we will be placing the spotlight on the amazing talent signed up for the IIDEX Woodshop initiative. This week: the 608|Design

608|Design is a design studio operated by Evan Bare since 2007, which designs and engineers soft seating products for residential, contract and healthcare manufacturers with a focus on “fusing geometry, utility, craft and technology.”

We had the pleasure of having Evan answer a few of our questions—here is what he had to say about the IIDEX Woodshop competition, ash wood and dubstep!

ideacious: IIDEX Woodshop has a strong narrative going for it — a city and IIDEX supported initiative to use a portion of the 200,000+ ash trees the Emerald Ash Borer will bring down over the next 5 years. How do you plan to embrace this narrative through the work you submit?

Evan Bare: I want to compose a piece with layered structural elements while emphasizing the linear grain pattern found in Ash.

From an aesthetic perspective, many designers opt to work with rich woods like Walnut or Maple. What are your thoughts on using Ash as your primary material? Is it a challenge, does it change your process, or do you simply disagree and think Ash is amazing?

I actually really like the grain structure of Ash, especially quarter sawn and have used it in some furniture pieces.  It’s a strong solid wood but does have some issues with fracture along the grain lines which does cause problems for certain designs.

And finally, what’s something that you’re really into right now?

I’m really into growing vegetables and listening to Dubstep. Design wise, I’m a big fan of anything made by Patricia Urquiola.

Stay tuned for our next IIDEX Woodshop Designer Spotlight: Paus + Grün!

IIDEX Woodshop Designer Spotlight | the National Design Collective

This is the 3rd in a series of 10 posts where we will be placing the spotlight on the amazing talent signed up for the IIDEX Woodshop initiative. This week: the National Design Collective.

The National Design Collective (NDC), currently comprised of Scott Bodaly and Heather Lam, was established in 2009. They specialize in creating custom furniture, interior, graphic, and product design, with a heavy emphasis on creating objects/experiences through narratives and experimentation.

Scott & Heather interviewed with us briefly and here is what they had to say on the subjects of Ash, local breweries, motorcycles and (ofcourse!) IIDEX Woodshop:

ideacious: IIDEX Woodshop has a strong narrative going for it — a city and IIDEX supported initiative to use a portion of the 200,000+ ash trees the Emerald Ash Borer will bring down over the next 5 years. How do you plan to embrace this narrative through the work you submit?

theNDC: Normally materials such as these would be incinerated or go straight to the landfill.  What is great about this initiative is that it creates a unique opportunity to take what would be waste and turn it into something that can benefit our community.  The trees were once a part of the city of Toronto, so it would be nice to give something back to replace what the city has lost.  

From an aesthetic perspective, many designers opt to work with rich woods like Walnut or Maple. What are your thoughts on using Ash as your primary material? Is it a challenge, does it change your process, or do you simply disagree and think Ash is amazing?

We disagree! We have always liked the more local woods, which tend to be lighter in colour.  We have experimented with ash in the past, playing not only with its aesthetic, but also its capabilities.  It can be stained, bleached, lamination and steam bent, and has nice grain, strength, and weight.  Being a local wood, it is well suited to our climate and doesn’t require crazy toxic finishing.

There could even be an opportunity to introduce a Toronto or Canadian design aesthetic using ash.  For example, the Dutch created a strong design identity by using dark oiled woods and earth toned fabrics that is recognizable all over the world. Canada had a similar scene in the 60s and 70s that was very innovative and funky using new material processes (new to that time), such as complex plywood bending and advances in plastics manufacturing. With the Ash Borer creating a surplus of ash in the city, local designers can embrace the processes that are well suited to the material, potentially creating a definable aesthetic in the international design scene.

4 Cities Coasters by the National Design Collective

You’ve clearly established yourself as a force to be reckoned with in the Toronto design scene. What tips or advice would you give to other creators hoping to be a part of IIDEX Woodshop through the competition?

Don’t be afraid to experiment and never turn down an opportunity to learn something new.  Most importantly, do exactly what makes you happy, have fun, and support your local breweries while designing!

And finally, what’s something that you’re really into right now?

A band from Ottawa called A Tribe Called Red, they’ve got a unique powwow-step vibe that is great to work to in the shop.    

We’re also currently obsessed with motorcycles.  There’s something really honest and simple about a motorcycle which we appreciate and can learn a lot from.

Stay tuned for our next IIDEX Woodshop Designer Spotlight: 608|Design!