Oblivious: Designers must see the trees for the forest

I really like maple trees, but the tree that I’m the most familiar with is actually the most common tree in Canada, the Populus tremuloides, more commonly and (apparently) more properly known as the quaking aspen. We just called it the poplar. Why not? It was the most common tree, and why give it a […]

Balance, for now

It was harder than I had anticipated. But that’s because I didn’t think it through. I wanted to visit a furniture factory in Cambodia, and that isn’t what the tour operators usually handle. I’m not sure they quite believed that was what I wanted. But I was stubborn and I prevailed. The facility that I […]

Mindful museums

Where manual and fine art meet By Paul Epp I go to a lot of museums. I see it as professional development. I’m kind of in that business myself. I design things and I try to do a good job. Museums collect and display things that are done well and this sometimes includes my work, which is, of course, […]

Canadian copies

I hate being embarrassed. Most of us do. Our dislike of that self-conscious sting is part of what keeps us behaving in a socially acceptable way and that’s a good thing. But we tend to remember when we get caught out. Years ago, I was touring a group of students through showrooms in Milan, Italy. In one, the polite host asked after our nationality. When I identified us as Canadian, he hit […]

Pursuit of perfection

I was recently helping another designer with a project — a kind of DIY project — and in this case I was playing the role of fabricator, not designer. At a certain point, I told the designer that we had a problem, that there was an issue with alignment and dimensions. To which the designer […]

Order or chaos?

There is a lot to be known when one sets out to design products. Probably too much. The complexities of production have multiplied with advances in technology and now its unlikely that an individual will be able to obtain a comprehension sense of what can be done and how to do it. It remains incumbent […]

Three boards

There are some lovely little boats on the upper Mekong River. They are made with only three boards. The one in the centre is basically parallel edged, but bent while lying flat, to raise both ends. Attached to this lengthwise, at 45 degrees, are planks (garboards) that are basically a long crescent shape, sweeping up […]

Design earns its due

It wasn’t that long ago that the word design was primarily used to describe a state of scheming, usually nefariously, for the purpose of acquiring something or someone. One might have “designs” on… It doesn’t seem to be used that way so much anymore. It now generally implies a connection with creativity. There is an […]

True Nordic strong and free

Wood has been an important material in the world of furniture design for a very long time. But by the mid 20th century, there were a lot of competing materials, reflecting new technologies and modernism in general. Despite that, Canada retained a strong loyalty to wood. A very fine exhibit has been mounted that illustrates […]

Tools for the job

As a young adult, I was seized by the idea of becoming a product designer. That would be a good description of what occurred. I was seized and the idea didn’t let go. At first, I had no idea of what kind of products I wanted to design. By Paul Epp My earliest design activities […]