Spotlighting four rising stars in the the Western Canadian design scene.
Industrial Designers to Watch: Studio Bup
When Ryan Boechler and Christine Huynh met at Simon Fraser University's School of Interactive Arts, they shared an immediate connection. "We were both drawn to how people emotionally connect with objects," says Boechler, "and loved discovering new products that were fun, playful and had character." Four years after graduation, Boechler and Huynh are using their love of playful industrial design as a jumping-off point at their up-and-coming company, Studio Bup, where they're creating innovative, design-savvy industrial products that highlight the fun, quirky and personal. For instance, their Gum wall hooks, which Designers of the Year judge Paolo Cravedi gave high marks to for the reuse of pest-affected Canadian ash trees, reinvent an everyday object as a graphic statement with bold colours and a magnet on the back, perfect for quickly hanging keys. But for Boechler and Huynh, the best part isn't unveiling the final product. "Our favourite part of the process is testing out new ideas," notes Huynh—leaving us anxiously waiting for what they'll experiment with next. –Ashley Macey
Furniture Designer to Watch: Mtharu
When Sumer Singh decided to leave a career in mechanical engineering and open his own furniture design studio in 2013, he was embracing a creative heritage: Singh comes from a long line of artists (blacksmiths, weapon makers and poets, to name a few). Today, with only two years of furniture design experience, he’s already honouring the family tradition with a surge of national acclaim for his company, MTHARU, and there are no doubts that Singh made the right decision in switching careers. “Being a mechanical engineer allows me to see things in a perspective of forces and loads,” notes Singh. “But at the end of the day everything has to have a meaning in design, down to the bolts holding it together.” In his Calgary workshop, Singh creates smartly designed minimalist pieces that play with sustainable materials in an unfamiliar way—like the popular Alpha Q table, made entirely from one piece of concrete, or the Fe stool (right), made from a single piece of black steel. In a word, his designs are elegant, says judge Barbara Barry: “Singh creates with structural and sculptural integrity.” –Ashley Macey
Fashion Designer to Watch: Truvelle
Gaby Bayona, creator and director of Truvelle, a bridal design shop, likes to pay it forward. Bayona provides use of extra materials to interns to experiment with, and collaborates with designers of bridal accessories to provide a complete experience for customers. Though she’s just 22 years old, Gaby has been in the bridal business for years: she learned the business quickly, transitioning from working in her mother’s bridal store to designing her own dresses and opening a physical storefront. Truvelle dresses are known for rose-gold sequins, distinct fabrics and high quality at an accessible price point. Judge Yumi Eto praised Truvelle’s “dedication to the vision and consistency of design.” –Patrick Easton
Eco Designer to Watch: AdrianMartinus
“We’ll cut apart anything,” say Martinus Pool, one half of the brother duo that makes up the Calgary woodworking company AdrianMartinus. (You guessed it: Adrian Pool is the other half.) The pair specialize in pieces made from reclaimed material, creating work that judge Oliver Lang describes as “simple and beautiful.” Their Butcher Block slab table (right), for example, is made from old skateboards—it was originally a one-off design, but after a little R&D, the pair developed a technique to “butcher” the boards. Combining dozens of boards and recycled old-growth woods creates captivating patterns, like the fractal-like designs of the Lost Wood coffee table, and the erratic linear patterns on the Gammagraph hardwood coffee table. –Patrick Easton Click here to browse previous Ones to Watch and Designers of the Year winners.