1.1.1 hole slab long – charcuterie line
1. Where did you grow up?
Early years were spent in Onoway, Alberta on a dirty hippie commune, and then Edmonton.
2. Any tell tale signs as a child that you were going to be a designer?
Not really, I once pathetically modified my Mustang bike into a BMX with blue tires, handlebars and a little plastic seat. Pretty sad really.
spice grinder – for u+
2.1.2 paddle maple – charcuterie line
3. You were a founding partner and the design director of Pure Design from 1993 to 2004 (a significant landmark and success in the Canadian manufacturing sector) during which you worked with talents such as Richard Hutten, Karim Rashid, Scot Laughton and Douglas Coupland. In recent years, in addition to helping launch and design your wife’s restaurant Culina Highlands (www.culinafamily.ca) you are about to launch a line of charcuterie boards as well as a spice grinder for U+ (Canadian manufacturer Umbra’s studio line). Can you elaborate on your current projects?
The restaurant has been an amazing experience, it’s our little family business. I wanted to give the room as much character as the food and staff have, hopefully they all work well together. I’d like to think the dining room would be like Sunday dinner at your Baba’s house, if your Baba was the type who went to Coachella and had a thing for Dutch lighting designers.
The spice grinder grew out of wanting to work with materials that age well, like brass and walnut. The big Puegot mills used in restaurants are so iconic and functional – a server will tuck it under their arm while they carry plates, it is perfectly designed for that. But most of them are painted beech and they end up looking like shit after a few years, when they really should be looking better with age.
The board collection is about getting back to making and selling objects that I simply want to make, which I’ve missed. The boards are cut on a CNC router and meticulously finished by hand, so the project lies somewhere at the crossroads of design and craft. They are essentially slabs of wood, but the most insanely smooth slabs of wood I can possibly make.
interior, culina highlands
4. Does your background in the manufacturing field influence your design work?
Yes, probably not in a good way…we had our limitations in terms of in-house processes, and I trained myself to think within those parameters. It took awhile to get over that.
5. I’ve heard your design theory described as soft rationalism. Do you agree? Can you expand on this?
I think it would be fair to say that i’m not a conceptual designer. My goal is to create products that are new in a subtle way, functionally or in a particular use of materials.
With the spice grinder, it’s about being able to store a tall grinder on an overhead pot rack and off of your work surface, that’s it. A new product has to be better in some way to bring into the world.
6. How would you describe your design process?
Slow and steady.
2.1.2 paddle maple – charcuterie line
7. Your current line of charcuterie boards are being manufactured in Alberta. What is the rationale behind this and is that important to you?
They’re quite personal objects to me, so control over the entire process, from the selection of the wood to the finishing is the most important thing.
8. Could you name some of your favourite designers and what you like about their work?
Sam Hecht of Industrial Facility and the French designers Normal Studio are right up there for me. Simple in a good way and interesting at the same time.
9. Are there any products you currently have your eye on?
Honestly, I need a new pair of Bauer TotalOne hockey skates, size 9 and a half. Plus a portable Tivoli radio, I need a radio right beside me at all times for some strange reason and I need to take it to the next level.
10. We are highlighting Canadian designers, photographers, illustrators, and writers. Who do you think we should interview next?
Stacy Lloyd Brown, illustrator www.stacybrown.ca also Johnny Sabine (www.matcult.com) designer in Toronto.