Hands On My dad is a modern jewellery designer, and I grew up watching him work. My brother is a designer, too, and we both spent a lot of time in Dad’s studio, engulfed in design; in fact, I made my first objects out of silver. Dad does the whole process in house, so I saw at a young age how important it is to understand every step. Because jewellery is about details and polish and refinement, it inspired me to achieve a high level of finesse in my own work, even with prototypes.
By the time I was five, my family had moved to Alberta – first Banff, then Canmore. My brother and I would spend our time building tree forts or fixing motorcycles, so my world was a place where things were hands on. When I was eight, I wanted to be an inventor. Then – I was maybe thirteen – I switched to design. Now I realize that they were the same thing; being an industrial designer is being an inventor.
Graduation Blues I went to school at the Design Academy Eindhoven. In 2009, our graduation show attracted 25,000 people, who all paid $15 to get in, which meant designers from around the world saw our best pieces. But then there was this letdown afterwards. There was no clear next step, no job – nothing, really. I found myself back home, literally sitting in the woods out in Canmore. I had no contact with the design world I’d been part of. I finally started working in my dad’s studio, and I produced four or five products, then I sent images of them to magazines. After a bitter winter in Alberta, one of my prototypes, the Specular table light, received quite a bit of media attention and became a finalist in the 2011 D3 Contest during IMM Cologne. I realized that if I could do that in Canmore, I can do it from anywhere. It was a totally validating moment.
I usually begin with a function in mind, something I can play with. For example, with the Specular light I began by drawing lines on a piece of paper to show how I wanted light to move. I had nothing in particular in mind. I just knew I wanted to illuminate the table and the ceiling with no direct source in the middle, nothing hitting your eyes. The shape of the lamp and its materials arrived in response to that idea. The half-mirrored globe bulb reflects down to the table, while a bowl at the base has an interior of polished stainless steel to reflect light up to the ceiling.
The In Crowd Europe helped a great deal with my early success, but everything I’ve accomplished in Canada has been thanks to the people here. I met my business partners, Caine Heintzman and Matt Davis, about four years ago while I was doing a talk in Vancouver. When I moved there in 2012, we reconnected and realized that it made sense to do our own line. We launched AndLight later that year. Our collection will soon be carried in Vancouver by Inform Interiors.
I’m also collaborating with Umbra. My Asymmetrical Candle Holders are part of the Umbra Shift line, a more indie, higher-end branch of the company. I’m definitely beginning to feel now, at 27, that I’ve found myself in a fertile design community in Vancouver. Not just a community of companies, though – individual designers, too. Omer Arbel has definitely helped me out.
Next Steps I’m working on more pieces for Umbra Shift, and for the New York lighting company Roll & Hill, as well as new pieces for AndLight, quite different from my earlier work. They add new lighting types that aren’t currently in the collection, including floor and ceiling lamps. Now that we have relationships with producers here in Vancouver, things are moving much more smoothly. I’ve been studying with different manufacturers, and I feel that I can use their skills to fill out our line and develop a complete collection. Our goal for AndLight is to achieve consistent growth while creating new and interesting lights. If design is what you really want to do, you need to find ways to keep creating new work and take every opportunity to show it.
Bachelor of design, Design Academy Eindhoven, the Netherlands
Furniture, lighting and product designer
2013-14 DX Emerging Designer Competition winner;
2011 IMM Cologne D3 Contest finalist
2014 Emerging Design Competition, Vancouver; 2012-14 International Contemporary Furniture Fair, New York; 2012 Milan Furniture Fair;
2011 Prototypes, Vancouver
Roll & Hill, Umbra Shift