Interior designer Amanda Lwanga thinks rocks—well—rock. “Being an engineer and lover of geology, I always naturally gravitate towards stone in my projects,” she says, “to me, nature is the best artist ever.” On a regular trip to one of her stone suppliers in Edmonton, Lwanga caught sight of a “mountain of offcuts” destined to be ground down into landfill dust or used as road material.
The 10 by 15-foot pile of remnants were quartz, quartzite and marble: gorgeous, unique, and difficult-to-find materials. “We spend so much time and effort quarrying these, we spend energy flying them across the world, and then they get turned into gray dust,” she explains. Driven to save the offcuts from the landfill—and inspired by a residential project that required custom furniture—Lwanga started to prototype side tables from the discarded stone. PETRA by Linger Design Studio
From the prototypes, Petra was born. The new sustainable furniture company, an offshoot of Lwanga’s Linger Design Studio, has launched tables in two sizes made from stone offcuts. They’re available in four colour combinations. “The charm—and the challenge—of this was really understanding the scientific and structural properties of different types of stone,” says Lwanga. “It’s like a jigsaw puzzle.”
PETRA by Linger Design Studio
The designer compares the work she’s doing with Petra to other design studios and construction companies and architecture firms making furniture from construction waste. “They took lumber and did the same thing,” she says. Because of the nature of the process, each collection will have a limited run. “We’re not looking for big slabs,” says the designer. “It’s this organic, magical experience of finding what is unused and using it.”
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Lwanga named the four colour combinations after her happy hour favourites: there’s the Cosmopolitan, Mint Julep, Whisky Sour and Dirty Martini. “I’m a cocktail gal,” she says with a laugh. After all, if the coffee table was named for everyone’s morning pick-me-up, why not give some love to mixed drinks?
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For now, all of Petra’s products are designed and made in Edmonton, but Lwanga will be looking to expand her stone suppliers and fabricators in the future. Because the tables are so heavy, the designer reasons that it doesn’t make sense to ship them all over the country—that would counteract the sustainable ethos that inspired the furniture in the first place. “We want to create relationships with fabricators across the country, and source offcuts from across the country as well, so it’s still a process of shopping local even though the design is Edmonton-based,” she says.
Linger Design Studio Creative Director Amanda Lwanga. Photo by Romy Young.
Especially in pandemic times, when we may not be able to go to a restaurant for our favourite cocktails, Lwanga stresses the importance of creating special spaces at home. “You can have this really cool, beautifully curated, funky setting and still have it be in your home with kids,” she says. “It’s just a matter of selecting materials that are robust—materials that are meant to weather, age and patina over time.”