IIDEX Woodshop Winners Spotlight | Miles Keller

The IIDEX Woodshop Exhibition is just 2 weeks away, and now that we’ve covered the featured designers that were solicited for the initiative, we’re going to turn the spotlight on the 5 competition winners who will be joining their ranks at IIDEX. This week: Miles Keller for the Kona Chair

Miles15bw3

Miles Keller has over twenty years of professional experience as an industrial designer. His company, Dystil, is based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and provides services in all facets of the design process. You may remember from the Designer Profile we posted some time ago, that Miles is one of Canada’s most highly regarded industrial designers and his work has been widely recognized, including the ID Magazine Annual Design Review (1989), the IDEA Awards (1997, 2005), the Virtu Canadian Design Awards (1995, 6, 7, 8, 9), the IIDEX/NeoCon Canada Awards (2002), the Best of Canada Design Awards (2002), and the Good Design Award (2002, 2003, 2004, 2005). His most recent accolades include a Silver IDEA award from IDSA and a Silver Design Exchange Award, both in 2006.

We caught up with Miles this week, and here’s what they had to say about about his competition submission, the IIDEX Woodshop initiative, and his new found love of Ash:

ideacious: As a city and IIDEX supported initiative to use a portion of the 200,000+ ash trees being destroyed over the next 5 years, IIDEX Woodshop has a strong narrative going for it. How did this inspire you when designing your piece?

Miles Keller: As has been pointed out by the first peoples, we breath what the trees exhale and they breath what we exhale…. we share a common destiny. We are joined, we are one. So losing up to 900,000 trees over the next ten years is a tragedy.

Many designers opt to work with aesthetically 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 disagree and think Ash is amazing?

I have to be honest, I have never really liked ash. But we did a lot of research for this project. And I discovered that ash was once one of the most revered hardwoods. And its one of the toughest; used in everything from baseball bats to hockey sticks. North American indigenous peoples used the wood to make things like spears in part because it was so tough and flexible.

We went to the Scarborough wood lot and walked through that vast pile of logs and picked one that would work for us. We needed green wood and straight grain. Then we found a sawyer and had it cut into planks. And in the process I can honestly I’ve developed a great affection for the wood. Its a beautiful, honest and strong, tough wood.

What qualities in other designers’ work often catch your attention or make you really think the designer is on to something?

Well, first off we’ re industrial designers, not woodworkers. But what I look for and really respect in other designers work is honesty, respect and craft. I love seeing work that respects the process, the material and the user. And hopefully its done in a creative, witty way.

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

What am I in to now? Ash! Honestly, I’m going to be doing more with this amazing wood. And sadly there’s a lot of trees coming down in the next few years. I love the idea of combining wood with new materials like carbon fibre or aluminum to create entirely unexpected and hopefully inspiring results. As for industrial design in general, there’s never been a better time to be in the profession. The tools and technology at our fingertips means the big problems facing us all can be attacked in new ways, like Elon Musk’s Hyperloop.

Stay tuned for next week as we have the scoop on Randy Kerr and his submission, Vessel.

Advertisements

IIDEX Woodshop Winners Spotlight | Sathvik Sivaprakash

The IIDEX Woodshop Exhibition is just a few weeks away, and now that we’ve covered the featured designers that were solicited for the initiative, we’re going to turn the spotlight on the 5 competition winners who will be joining their ranks at IIDEX. This week: Sathvik Sivaprakash for Halcyon

282093_853795884945_3029457_n

Sathvik Sivaprakash is a Toronto-based freelance Industrial Designer with a degree from the School of Industrial Design at Carleton University. A rising creative force in the design scene, some of Sathvik’s more prominent achievements include being a finalist in Design21’s Power to the Pedal competition (2008), being part of the team that developed Teknion’s Optos Curve Wall that won a Silver Award at NEOCON (2009) and presenting his thesis project at the Design Indaba conference in Cape Town, South Africa (2010). More recently, he was involved in developing The Capitalist iPhone case that is currently in preorder on ideacious.

We caught up with Sathvik this week, and here’s what they had to say about about his competition submission, the IIDEX Woodshop initiative, and doubling over with laughter:

ideacious: As a city and IIDEX supported initiative to use a portion of the 200,000+ ash trees being destroyed over the next 5 years, IIDEX Woodshop has a strong narrative going for it. How did this inspire you when designing your piece?

Sathvik Sivaprakash: The one thing that struck a cord with me as I was creating my IIDEX Woodshop submission was the sheer volume of surplus Ash that is going to be available in the next few years. To this end, I strived to create a product with wide applicability, that still addressed a gap in the market – and that’s where Halcyon comes in with a fresh take on window blinds.

Sathvik_Halcyon

Many designers opt to work with aesthetically 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 disagree and think Ash is amazing?

One of the tenets of my design philosophy is “everything in its right place”. While Walnut in particular is one of my favorite woods to work with in the context of creating richness and depth, I believe Ash has its own place as a strong, durable wood that lends itself well to a minimalist aesthetic. As I have been developing my prototype I’ve also really come to appreciate what a great wood it is to work with. It machines great and has excellent tensile strength.

Prototype Tiles

What qualities in other designers’ work often catch your attention or make you really think the designer is on to something?

I find this varies a lot based on the type of product I’m looking at. When it comes to furniture I find myself drawn to pieces with a strong attention to detail/proportions and interesting construction techniques. Konstantin Grcic happens to be one of my favorite designers when it comes to achieving this.

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

I’ve been really into all the work Nendo has been doing lately – they really excel at creating minimalist objects/spaces with just the right amount of flair and wit. Oki Sato’s presentation on creative process at IDS 2012 is also one of the most inspiring I’ve seen to date.

In my downtime, I recently discovered Creature Comforts USA – its by the creators of Wallace & Gromit and is simply incredible – its not often I find a show that makes me literally laugh out loud (like doubled over, not just the usual chuckle).

Stay tuned for next week as we have the scoop on Miles Keller and the Kona Chair.

IIDEX Woodshop Winners Spotlight | Fieldhouse, Ford + Reed

The IIDEX Woodshop Exhibtion is just about a month away, and now that we’ve covered the featured designers that were solicited for the initiative, we’re going to turn the spotlight on the 5 competition winners who will be joining their ranks at IIDEX. This week: Fieldhouse, Ford + Reed for their SLASH+BURN lamps.

Fieldhouse, Ford + Reed

Fieldhouse, Ford + Reed is an emerging collaborative design team formed by three former Furniture Craft & Design students from Sheridan College: C.R. Fieldhouse, Simon Ford and Lauren Reed.  The three have come together to imagine new and innovative designs that reflect their belief in the simplicity of functional objects that marry concept, experimentation and materiality.

We caught up with Fieldhouse, Ford + Reed recently, and here’s what they had to say about about their competition submission, ash trees and the IIDEX Woodshop initiative:

ideacious: As a city and IIDEX supported initiative to use a portion of the 200,000+ ash trees being destroyed over the next 5 years, IIDEX Woodshop has a strong narrative going for it. How did this inspire you when designing your piece?

Fieldhouse, Ford + Reed: We really latched on to the idea of a natural life cycle and destruction. These trees are being killed by an invasive pest, and many likely to become wood chips and firewood. We wanted to appropriate that concept of destruction and use it to define our concept. Shou-sugi-ban is a traditional Japanese method of burning the exterior of house siding to create a weather and pest proof exterior. Even though the trees are dead, their wood is still susceptible to rot, pests and weather. So through this somewhat destructive process we are actually protecting the wood from these threats. We took this idea of a natural armour, and applied it to hand-turned pendant lights; too late for the trees, but it provides us an interesting texture and finish.

Slash+Burn

Many designers opt to work with aesthetically 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 disagree and think Ash is amazing?

Much of our previous work has been in walnut and maple, but we’ve also worked with ash in the past.  It has a lightness of colour similar to maple, but also a strong graphic grain pattern.  It is predominantly used in tool handles and baseball bats, and is fairly inexpensive.  This brings a somewhat utilitarian aesthetic to the wood, which we think is an interesting characteristic to play with.  Ash may not be the most desirable wood out there, but we think this is changing.  It is an incredible local resource, so for us, if this project can help change perceptions of what ash can be, then all the better.FFR_project2_01What qualities in other designers’ work often catch your attention or make you really think the designer is on to something?

We’re attracted to fresh ways of solving common problems. A lot of popular design objects right now are more about aesthetics than function. For us, pieces with strong, even experimental, concepts backed up by clear and simple functionality are really attractive.

FFR_project5_01

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

The three of us have each become really interested in wood turning over the past few years. The process of working on the lathe is much more intuitive than other woodshop techniques – most are fairly calculated and planned. On the lathe you get instant feedback and can be much more spontaneous and experimental with your designs. Round is the new square?

Stay tuned for next week as we have the scoop on Sathvik Sivaprakash and the Halcyon window blinds.

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!

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!

IIDEX Woodshop Designer Spotlight | Greenwood Studio

This is the 2nd 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: Greenwood Studio.

Greenwood Studio is a boutique design/build studio that creates contemporary custom furniture from salvaged and reclaimed materials as well as bespoke treehouses.

Here is what its founder, Michael Greenwood had to say when asked him about 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?

Michael Greenwood: My design will speak to the narrative — it will consider the death of the trees, their accumulation, and their rebirth.

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?

Not my favourite. Not wild about the ‘yellowish’ tone it sometimes has. But it is hard and works well, takes stain well and the qualities of the wood won’t stifle the design.

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?

Think like an Ash tree.

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

As always I’m into joinery, economy of material, sculpted forms and remembering that less design is more.

Stay tuned for our next IIDEX Woodshop Designer Spotlight: the National Design Collective!