A Montreal maker with a uniquely feminine sensibility, Zoë Mowat is part of our Makers + Shakers series – a look at the next generation of independent makers who are tapping into new markets, exploring unconventional materials and using their skills for social good.
At Toronto’s Interior Design Show in January, the Canadian furniture company EQ3 set up a display to showcase Assembly, a new line of home products. The capsule collection, from candle holders to chairs, was designed by some of the brightest young studios from across the country. One of the largest pieces, a vanity with delicate legs and a quarter-moon mirror perched on its top, stood out among pieces that seemed to channel a mostly Scandinavian vibe. By contrast, the Assembly Dressing Table was quirky and fresh, featuring graphic lines, a lively palette, and an unexpected mix of materials that seemed more Memphis Group than Nordic.
Designed by Zoë Mowat of Montreal, the assemblage of elements in a single object is typical of her aesthetic, one that exploits both tactile and visual explorations. “I’m drawn to materials and proportions,” she says, “and to the intimacy of being able to touch and use an object.” Her unique sensibilities have led to a number of private commissions since she graduated from the University of Alberta in 2007.
Over that time, she has created a sizable portfolio of offbeat, limited-run objects. The Arbor jewellery stand, for instance, looks as though it was inspired by a perch for birds, with two round trays for holding rings, and a matching, detachable hand mirror. The piece incorporates seven materials: solid walnut, ash, brass, steel, marble, mirror and felt.
Mowat has yet to secure a commission from a big global company, but she has garnered a great deal of international media attention for her bespoke pieces. In 2014, she also joined Colony, a new breed of gallery/retail space on Canal Street in New York, where a core group of designers organize exhibitions and create opportunities for one another.
“It can be difficult for independent designers to present their product in a showroom context,” she says, “especially when your work is made to order and crafted by hand, so Colony has been extremely helpful.” The co-op has also given her exposure in a major city, a big career boost: “You really have to go out there and get it for yourself.”