We Stand on Guard for Thee: An Ode to Canadian Furniture Craftsmanship
Happy Birthday, Canada! 2017 will mark our country’s 150th anniversary, and it’s looking better than ever. We thought we’d get the party started early and gathered some of our favourite homegrown brands that embody the essence of thoughtful design and artistry. From handcrafted spirits, to beautiful home furnishings, to wearable works of art — never have there been so many excuses to celebrate exceptional Canadian talent.
Windsor ‘Assembly’ Chair by Matthew Kroeker
‘Assembly’ was a concept dreamed up by EQ3, the celebrated purveyors of Canadian-made, modern furniture for urban living. The idea was to bring ten Canadian designers from coast to coast together to contribute their unique point of view to the new collection of home furnishings and accessories. Separately, each piece would reflect its maker. But together, their diversity would define a new national design identity. Award-winning industrial designer and furniture conceptualist Matthew Kroeker did not let them down. His modern interpretation of the centuries-old Windsor chair (which dates back to King George III) not only harkens back to the past with its slender wooden dowel construction but streamlines and improves its structure by featuring a continuous steam-bent back and arm rail. The result is something that takes an age-old object right into the present day. $330
The Garrison by STACKLAB
Located in Toronto, the award-winning STACKLAB studio is one pledged to all its processes. Be it design and fabrication to project management and construction, the firm goal of STACKLAB is to bring the vision of their clients to life. And thanks to a spirited in-house team* and vaunted network of collaborators, it’s a mission typically accomplished in high style. Their résumé is brimming with daring furniture, installations, interiors, residential architecture and art objects. On the fittings end, STACKLAB’s Garrison stool is a showstopper. Consider that, for a household item, this sculptural casting was made using steel salvaged from the former historic Garrison bridge in Toronto. Yes, in collaboration with Rebart, STACKLAB acquired two tonnes of rebar from the demolished bridge and have since created a limited series of 102 units. Here’s an optimal blend of fabrication technology, state-of-the-art digital design and local preservation all in one. $1,950 for cast iron; $2,350 for cast iron and bronze.
Gweilo by PARTISANS
The braintrust behind PARTISANS regard themselves as thinkers and cultural enthusiasts every bit as much as architects. They consider the work they create to be not only stories that spring to life through “spontaneous mutations” and “unexpected cracks”, but fully-fleshed architectural narratives; ones that elicit counter narratives, too. Just take their Gweilo light, which was inspired by the idea that luminosity is fundamentally dynamic. As such, the lighting design of Gweilo is one that alters the light source, itself. Each Gweilo light is hand-sculpted by way of the thermoforming technique, a process which has allowed PARTISANS to shape individual LED sheets while still in their hot plastic state. The outcome is an infinite set of silhouettes and sizes emulating the vital movement of light. $250 to $2,000
The Inheritance Collection Sofa by Stephen Kenn
Stephen Kenn is driven by curiosity. Born in Edmonton and presently based in Los Angeles, the designer craves simplicity. And while his projects ultimately experiment with new processes, they all start with good materials. His Military Canvas & Marbled Rust Sofa, for example, not only contrasts the influence of historic US Army materials against a stripped-down, minimal design aesthetic, but is also the original version of his Inheritance Collection sofa. As a point of interest, it’s actually the first piece of furniture Stephen Kenn ever designed. It’s the real deal too, featuring vintage olive green military canvas upholstery, tan cotton webbing, oxblood brown leather, antique brass buckles, and a belt design that’s a precise replica of a WWII Swiss army “mule belt”. Now existing in a handful of different iterations, the Inheritance Collection spans the use of different materials that include indigo canvas, leather, wool, nickel and brass. $7,500 to $9,500
Rebound Coat Rack by Derek McLeod and Joy Charbonneau
Clarity, precision, and beauty are the three hallmarks of anything designed or manufactured by Derek McLeod, who has been conceiving timeless products for contract and residential markets in Toronto since 2008. Consequently, his works are objects frequently hailed as possessing the influence to improve life simply by looking and performing well. Leave it to McLeod then to make a masterwork of the common coat rack, which is exactly what he and architect Joy Charbonneau have done with their Rebound unit. Better symbolized perhaps as ‘structural storage’, the spatial rack takes its cues from sporting fields and play diagrams. As such, it fits into small spaces where a traditional coat closet is not possible, and concurrently creates a striking wall alternative in comparison to the purely utilitarian coat hook. $900
W1 Tables by Moss & Lam
Moss & Lam are a studio that tackles the entire design process from initial concepts, to sample creation, to in-house fabrication, to installation. They’ve been called ‘artistic problem solvers’ who continue to navigate the increasingly blurred line between art and design. How to solve a problem then like their handcrafted W1 tables, named after the W1 region of London? Simple. By applying the ancient scagliola technique, which came into fashion in 17th century. Scagliola is a composite substance made from selenite, glue, and natural pigments; it imitates marble and other hard stones. The result of its use here is each W1 piece revealing a modern, one-of-a-kind silhouette. Price available upon request.