IIDEX Woodshop Designer Spotlight | Said the King

This is the 9th 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: Said the King.

Said the King is based in Toronto and always thinking of the people. Accordingly, their pieces are made locally using responsible materials. Each of their products aim to create a story, an experience, or at the very least a moment of ‘ahhh, I see what you did there’. Said the King designs are fun and uncomplicated, using simple materials like wood, ceramic, or screenprinted fabric.

We had the chance to have Said the King founder, Karen King, answer our questions. Here’s what she had to say about the IIDEX Woodshop competition, working with ash wood and her love for bourbon:

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?

Said the King: I’ve really taken the idea of ‘the end of Toronto’s ash trees’ and used it in two ways: to inspire a fun narrative around the piece and to inform the design.

As a story: I took the idea of ‘the end’ and pushed it to ‘the end of days’ to imagine the one piece of furniture you’d want with you during your final moments just before the zombies, the rage – whatever is bringing the end of the world – comes crashing through your door.

Design-wise: Because Toronto’s ash is coming to an end all at once, creating a surplus of material, I’ve added an extra element to my design. In addition to my core piece I’ll be creating a few variations catered specifically to other major brands. If one picks it up they’ll have the audience and resources to order in much larger volume, using up more of the available 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?

Of the hardwood pieces Said the King currently offers, ash is already an option so it doesn’t change much. What is different though is the story behind this wood – being able to say that we’re using Toronto ash and to tell the story of the beetle infestation makes this particular ash really rich.

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

Bourbon cocktails. I got hooked when someone made me a Paper Plane. Now I’m trying to learn the basics like an Old Fashioned and a Boulevardier. And once I can get my hands on some agave nectar I can’t wait to make a Bourbon Bomber.

Stay tuned for our next IIDEX Woodshop Designer Spotlight: Scott Eunson!

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Product Profile | XXXY Sugar Maple Table by Storyboard Furniture

Table For Tree
“Holmes on Homes”. “Bar Rescue”. “Pimp My Ride”. There’s always something fascinating about remodeling “junk” into something more appealing and useful. Storyboard Furniture’s XXXY Sugar Maple Table (new to ideacious!) is a perfect example, using “damaged” Toronto trees to sculpt furniture that’s primed to give cribs everywhere a sumptuous and naturalistic vibe!

Process
The XXXY Sugar Maple came to be after Storyboard Furniture received a slab from the Cohen and Master Tree and Shrub Service. Not much information was provided about the property it came from but that it came from a neighborhood near the shop.

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Typically, the raw material is sourced from felled trees donated by Toronto homeowners and/or arborists. The trees are brought to the appropriate mills and cut precisely and dried. The wood is then moved into Storyboard Furniture’s kiln where they are dried further and subsequently designed, flattened, sanded and finished with the utmost care. The criteria throughout the process is to try to imbue the character of the tree into the design of each table.

To this end, specific flitches are selected that best symbolize the tree’s character. City trees purportedly have “battle scars” or damage from exposure to various elements of the city.

 “Each tree does have its own story, and we aim to let them speak for themselves. We try to present them in a way that’s as unfiltered as possible. When you see a monolithic slab table you understand the presence of that tree in a way that’s not possible if you glue some sticks together. Our base designs are intended to respond to the shape, size, and various features of a particular slab in a way that facilitates a conversation between the piece of wood and the viewer. They are like shoes for a runway model,” Dennis Hale of Storyboard Furniture explains.

Toronto Trees under Threat
Toronto trees are often damaged and/or removed for several reasons. A city that is constantly growing requires more land to be developed, resulting in trees being cut or removed. That’s not all, however – changing seasons, harsh weather conditions and occasional accidents also factor in.

“Some tree species such as Ash and Elm trees are also at risk due to insects and diseases,” Dennis adds.

Toronto is home to over 10 million trees. About 4 million of these are publicly-owned including over 600,000 street trees located in the public sectors of the cities. About 3.5 million trees are located in parks, ravines and other natural areas (according to the official City of Toronto website).

About Storyboard Furniture
Storyboard Furniture is a small company composed of artists, Dennis and Mike. Their main goal is to salvage wood from local discarded trees, which are meaningful to people, to create beautiful art and furniture.

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They became acquainted with ideacious through our participation in the Apple Wood Salvage Initiative. We created several Apple Wood products which contributed to the fundraising effort that saved the apple orchard.

IIDEX Woodshop Designer Spotlight | Brothers Dressler

This is the 7th 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 Brothers Dressler!

The Brothers Dressler are material-based designers specializing in crafting custom furnishings, lighting, objects and special products using sustainable processes such as using reclaimed, ecologically friendly and responsibly harvested materials.

The Brothers shared some of their thoughts with us regarding the IIDEX Woodshop competition, their fondness for ash wood and engaging their sons in the building blocks of design.

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?

Brothers Dressler: This is something that we have been embracing for some time with our Ash Out of Quarantine project. It’s a continuation of that exploration of using this abundant and untapped local resource as well as bringing awareness to the plight of the Ash trees. The City of Toronto is showing initiative in pursuing this opportunity and there is great potential to change the way people think about where the objects they buy come from and what they’re made of. This narrative will be carried on through these newly designed pieces and throughout our catalogue.  

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?

All woods have their own unique feel and beauty and ash is no different. It is a strong and malleable wood with its own unique richness and other special properties. It can be manipulated in so many ways and we’ve been using it in many of our pieces. One of the unique characteristics of ash, particularly those trees that endure growing within the city, is the unique grain pattern. Ash also has great bending properties, which allow us to utilize steam and bent lamination for our designs.

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

Besides using ash we have both been really into playing with Lego with our sons. It was a huge inspiration for us growing up and we find ourselves continuously amazed at the enthusiasm and creativity it inspires. Watching our boys manipulating the bricks, dismantling a creation and inventing something different is a potent reminder of how playful we should be with design.

Stay tuned for our next IIDEX Woodshop Designer Spotlight: Heidi Earnshaw Design!

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!

IIDEX Woodshop Designer Spotlight | Heidi Earnshaw

This is the 6th 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: Heidi Earnshaw Design!

Heidi Earnshaw

Heidi Earnshaw Design is a studio founded by Heidi Earnshaw focused on designing and producing handcrafted wooden furniture and objects and fully-fitted spaces for private, public and corporate projects using carefully and responsibly made unique pieces.

We were fortunate to have Heidi offer some insight into IIDEX Woodshop, ash wood and some of her other interests.

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?

Heidi Earnshaw: There is an amazing practicality to the narrative in  finding creative ways to transform the ash bore problem into a positive shared opportunity and experience for the design community, city foresters and Torontonians in general. In that same spirit,  I hope the design I submit will hold a wide appeal as a beautiful, useful and accessible object of everyday use. 

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?

Wood types come and go in popularity.  In the 90’s cherry and maple were the favourites, now it is walnut that is most popular. As designers we need to encourage the use of wood that is responsibly harvested and grown in North America. All woods have historical uses based on their particular characteristics.  Ash, known for it’s straight, reliable grain and excellent strength to weight ratio is commonly used in sports equipment, tools handles, oars etc.  This exhibition will hopefully remind us that all wood is good, it is simply a matter of using it appropriately and highlighting the best characteristics both functionally and aesthetically.  

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

Antiques.  I can spend hours roaming around country flea markets.  They are like museums of material culture that I find endlessly inspiring.

Stay tuned for a new designer next week!

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 | urbanproduct

This is the 1st 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: urbanproduct.

urbanproduct was founded in 2009 by Scottish-born Stephen Lindsay. They focus on creating fun and functional handcrafted furniture and products with a strong environmental ethos. We dropped Stephen a line earlier this week to pick his brain with a few questions.

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?

Stephen Lindsay: We plan to submit furniture items that show their raw form, their construction and source — to help tell the story of what they are and what they are made from. We’ve always enjoyed ‘honesty of construction’ so we don’t hide elements that are integral to the manufacture of our objects — but at the same time, we find a lot of people have a disconnect with the process and the techniques, not to mention the time and labour, involved in taking part of a tree, and making it part of our living spaces. Toronto is such an amazingly green city and so many of us appreciate the trees that surround us — but to enable people to understand that those trees can be part of our indoor spaces too will be amazing.

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 too are guilty of using ‘rich’ woods such as walnut and maple, but we try to steer away from the norm in what we do — we use roasted species of wood, and try to use a variety of species but it’s hard — the market really drives people toward walnut right now — just like teak had its day, now seems to be the time for walnut to accent our interiors.  We love ash — we just finished 26 Outdoor tables for the House On Parliament in Cabbagetown. We had the ash roasted and it’s just as rich and elegant as walnut, if not more so. Part of what we do is to highlight the qualities of the woods we work with — we’ll do that with the salvaged ash too.

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?

I’d say to really branch out — be creative and conceptual and try to realise your final functional design by still holding on to those original conceptual thoughts — that’s what will stand out. Too much design today is just a repeat/retake of existing items but if you can re-invent in a new and imaginative way, that’s what will help move you forward.

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

Right now I’m really into lighting — I always have been, having produced a set of lamps all the way back in Art School for my degree show, but with a couple of recent briefs to design lamps and lights, its sparked that excitement for me again. That coincides well with my new Lathe — which is work, play, and relaxation all in one!

Stay tuned for our next IIDEX Woodshop Designer Spotlight: Michael Greenwood!