COVID-19 Sparks Creativity & Innovation By Two Canadian Makers

By Laura Goldstein

One of the few positive repercussions of the 2020 pandemic has been a surge in artistic creativity around the world and Canadian furniture makers are no exception. Left to their own devices, often in lockdown situations, makers’ productivity has soared. With a ‘sink or swim’ mentality, they also quickly realized that they needed to come up with innovative ways to market their products during the impermanence of retail closings.

Ironically, when Covid-19 hit in March, we were having one of our best months ever,” admits Victoria-based designer Kirk Van Ludwig of Autonomous FurnitureBut all of a sudden everything ground to a halt and it was quite stressful.”

Re-grouping, Van Ludwig capitalized on his company’s debut at New York’s Wanted Design during NYCx Design Week last year. Autonomous Furniture was selected as one of only ten designers across North America to showcase their meticulous work at this prestigious exhibition sponsored by Surface Magazine. Recently, in response to so many closures of in-person trade shows during the Covid pandemic, the ICFF (International Furniture Fair) and Wanted came up with the idea of CLOSEUP: a virtual platform to showcase product launches and new trends inspired by a TV-show setting and broadcast live from New York to interior designers.

I felt like I was in a reality show for furniture,” laughs Van Ludwig “and it was such a clever way to market in these uncertain times.”

And, for the 4th time in almost consecutive years, Autonomous Furniture has been named one of 2020’s Designers of the Year by Western Living Magazine.Van Ludwig’s 3,000-square-foot studio in downtown Victoria buzzed with projects and flatpacking of new furniture shipments when we video-chatted during the interview.

His sleek Tilikum Bench and Console Tables are handcrafted in Douglas Fir with contrasting matte black or acrylic legs and incorporate 65% recycled paper composite, part of Autonomous Furniture’s commitment to using sustainable materials. The popular Constantinople Table Set composed of two opposite but compatible geometric shapes of a whitened Ash round tabletop sitting on three asymmetrical acrylic legs, gets cozy with a torched brown Douglas Fir square table.They are available with or without built-in storage. Pull up the versatile Clair Black End Table in Douglas Fir inserted into a contemporary black or acrilyic base for a glass of wine.

We take so much for granted,” says Van Ludwig explaining that although most of his carpentry staff wear masks anyway while working, one of his staff is deaf and depends on lip-reading, not an easy task during Covid-19.

You know, this pandemic has made me realize just how important the personalized connection is with people and how much I miss that with our clients, ” he confides.

Autonomous Furniture can be found at SwitzerCultCreative, 1725 West 3rd Avenue in Vancouver.

* * *

I’ve been the busiest I’ve ever been!” enthuses Jason Klager of Studio Klager from his Prince George, B.C. studio via Facetime. “There was a lot of new home construction here and I think with people staying or working at home during Covid, there’s so much attention on making things comfortable. And thanks to SwitzerCultCreative’s support of Canadian makers and artists, Canadian Consulates and official residences around the world have ordered a lot of interesting pieces that have gone to Paris, Turkey, Australia and Iceland,” Klager adds.

These have included a stunning black walnut lacquered Oru Cabinet with undulating curves perched on gold legs and a two-seater Milo Bench in walnut, to name only a few.

I’m currently working on six new bespoke pieces for interior designer, Janie Hungerford of Hungerford Interior Design for one of her clients in Vancouver. Good thing I work well under pressure,” Klager laughs.

Klager has always admired the Japanese aesthetic of elegant, streamlined simplicity in fine furniture and cabinetry construction. His Folio Table Series in walnut and white oak boasts boldly striped zebrano wood tops. The geometric tables have a wood base – some sprayed with a black conversion varnish and resemble building blocks for adults. They can be combined in multiple permutations including stacked to add height.

Although he enjoys working with the unusual grains of exotic woods, he finds that maple, walnut and birch are more conducive to cold dry winters. Peering through the glass-topped Vertex Cube Side Table, it gives the impression of an optical illusion of mountain peaks as the table is viewed from mutliple sides.

Furniture by Studio Klager can be found at SwitzerCultCreative, 1725 West 3rd Avenue in Vancouver.

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Showroom re-opening

 

 

Adam, Jennifer and I are looking forward to welcoming old and new clients back to our showroom as of Tuesday, May 26th.  We will be doing a phased in open plan beginning with three days a week, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 11 AM to 4 PM.  We will also be available for appointments on other days and times.

Social distancing and sanitizing plans are in place to protect clients and staff.   For those who will be waiting a bit longer before venturing out we have a new showroom virtual tour located on our home page.  http://www.switzercultcreative.com

Welcome back.    Renee Switzer

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Response to the COVID-19 Virus Pandemic

We hope that you, your loved ones and those around you are safe and in good health.

Effective today, March 16, 2020 our showroom will be temporarily closed in order to help slow the transmission of the COVID-19 virus except by appointment only. We hope to re-open on April 1.

We continue serving our clients using email, and telephone while working from home.  If any of our clients would like to visit the showroom, we will be available on short notice to open the showroom.  We are not traveling, nor visiting clients at this time.  The  SwitzerCultCreative.com website is operational, showcasing exclusive designs from all of our designers and manufacturers, many of them Made in Canada  

These unsettling times call for uncommon measures. We stay strong and mindful, and we care for one another. We want to hear from you: share your thoughts and reading lists with us; let us know how you are coping… We would love to share your insights and experience, what we are all learning from this uncharted situation with our community. Likewise, we will stay in touch.  We are all in this together, and we’ll come out of it stronger and better.

Our team is at the ready for your questions and any specific requests you may have.  Please keep in touch via email, Instagram or phone.  We will be checking our showroom phone regularly and return calls as soon as possible.

We will keep you updated as the situation changes, hopefully for the best very rapidly, and we look forward to hearing from you.

Posted in Contemporary, Design Community, Designer Showroom, Interior Design, Interior Design Showroom, Local, Luxury, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Simon Johns: Living Design Through Nature

By Laura Goldstein

The wall -mounted Ledge Console in ash mimics crumbling shale around the designer’s Quebec  property. Photo: Simon Johns

The designer, Simon Johns is profoundly inspired by nature and the environment. Photo: Simon Johns

If furniture designer, Simon Johns ever decides to retire, he can convert his rustic home and studio outbuilding near the shores of the picturesque Missisquoi River in Southern Quebec, into a charming B&B (filled with his nature-inspired pieces, of course!) 

The 7-acre property, now buried deep in winter snow, covers vast forests of ash, oak and white and yellow birch. “We as a family go cross-country skiing, snowboarding and hiking and there are so many lakes nearby, so the environment definitely defines my work,” Johns explains via Facetime. But it’s the stone, specifically the striated shale in the area that appears to have had such a profound affect on his imagination.

A curated selection of Simon Johns furniture is showcased at the SwitzerCultCreative showroom, 1725 West 3rd Avenue.

Missisquoi 02 is a two-level coffee or side table composed of a piece of laser-cut shale topped by gold-plated ash and steel. Photo: Simon Johns

Johns’ furniture straddles both modern and warmly organic worlds making his designs so versatile in a variety of interiors.

“It started with stones from the river and the surrounding cliffs,” says Johns, who specializes in limited edition and custom pieces. His Missisquoi Collection of coffee and side tables like Missisquoi 01, is composed of a spectacularly textured boulder of multi-coloured stone anchoring the piece and juxtaposed with a more delicate blackened ash tabletop. Missisquoi 02 is two-levels: a piece of laser-cut shale resembling a puzzle piece on the bottom is topped by gold-plated ash and steel adding a contemporary elegance to Mother Nature’s original. 

Johns began his career as a theatrical set designer so it’s not surprising that his furniture are as much sculptural art pieces as they are functional. They can’t help but illicit an emotional response by everyone who views them, and the urge to touch their surfaces is encouraged.

The Shale Credenza ,floor-mounted on brass or chrome plated steel, is a larger optical illusion with details of a cliff’s ridges mapped on its facade. Photo: Simon Johns

Sketching by hand from photographs he shoots while walking his property, “I’m trying to play with asymmetrical angles and I love the way shadows are cast on textured tree trunks,” he admits.

Like a magician’s illusion, The Ledge Console appears to float above the floor (it actually safely anchors to the wall.) Mimicking crumbling, jagged stone, the ash components have been scored across the grain contrasting with the opaque glass top which mirrors the reflection of water. Playfully fooling the eye, the functional cabinet actually opens to reveal the perfect space for a dry bar or storage for books. The Shale Credenza floor-mounted on brass or chrome plated steel, is a larger optical illusion with details of a cliff’s ridges like a geographical map, etched by hand and machine into the ash façade.

Looking up into the Trillium Floor Lamp inspired by the wildflowers found on his property. Photo: Simon Johns

Johns does dabble in lighting. He designed Trillium Banquette Lamps for the luxurious Monarque restaurant in Montreal. The Trillium Floor Lamp was inspired by the fragile wildflowers that grow in the forests on our property,” he says. “Made of brass and ash, three rings hide the light source hidden within.”

“I’m currently experimenting with aluminum casting for the 2020 Architectural Digest Design Show in New York in March and I’ve developed 3-foot wood wall panels that mimic the textures of a cliff and making them available to order by architects and interior designers. We’ve actually installed them as a door already and they look amazing,” he enthuses.

Simon Johns has developed 3-foot panels as wall coverings that can be ordered by architects & interior designers. Photo: Simon Johns

Posted in Contemporary, Contract/Hospitality, Design Community, Designer Showroom, Interior Design, Interior Design Showroom, Lighting, Luxury, Modern, Sustainable Home Furniture | Leave a comment

A Vancouver – Made “Supernatural” Gift For The 92nd Academy Awards Nominees

Supernatural Bowls by Jaan Andres for the top 25 Nominees for the 92nd Academy Awards. Photo: SwitzerCultCreative

By Laura Goldstein

It’s not just an Oscar that the top 25 Nominees at this year’s 92nd Academy Awards may be displaying in their living rooms. Vancouver glass designer, Jaan Andres created his luminous one-of-a-kind Supernatural Bowls, for the coveted swag bags delivered to the stars prior to the Academy Awards Ceremony February 9th. 

Each limited edition bowl was stamped and packaged in a custom-made cedar box. Photo: SwitzerCultCreative

“Presented with the opportunity to take part, we thought a limited edition glass art piece by Jaan would make an unusual gift for the celebrities, many of whom are art collectors,” explains Renee Switzer, founder and partner of luxury furniture and accessories showroom, SwitzerCultCreative in Vancouver. “Jaan had recently had a  successful Exhibition, Timelines, of his sculptural glass here and we agreed to sponsor the production for this very prestigious occasion.”

Although the ‘swag bag’ is highly anticipated because it’s a treasure trove of jewelry, products and even vouchers for fabulous trips for the top Oscar nominees, works of art are more unusual and (hopefully) catch the eye of each celebrity recipient.

“Swag bag is a bit of a misnomer,” says Grace Lanuza of Brand Apiary who submitted Andres’ bowl design to a committee that oversees all the competitive brands vying for inclusion. It’s more like a gigantic basket or suitcase that’s hand -delivered to celebrity nominees’ homes. Out-of-town nominees will receive Jaan’s piece at their hotel rooms prior to February 9th. 

Jaan Andres had only 10 days to produce his Supernatural Bowls. Photo: SwitzerCultCreative

“I’m trying to stay chill about it all,” laughs Andres who, when not working on his own collections, blows glass for Omer Arbel’s lighting company, Bocci and teaches classes at Vancouver’s Terminal City Glass, in Vancouver where the Supernatural Bowls were created.

“I had only 10 days to blow 40 pieces (I made extras to make sure we picked the perfect ones,) working night and day on the grinding and polishing which is really time consuming, then signed each with my embossed seal and individually numbered them with an engraver on the bottom,” he explains. 

“I titled this collection Supernatural because each bowl captures the liquid glass at the exact moment that centrifugal force takes over and the movement freezes,” he explains. Blown in luscious colours with vibrant irregular rims like bronze with carmine red, apricot with mint and steel grey with chartreuse, the result is a sensual, one-of-a kind shape that can be used as a vase, with a candle flickering inside or just as an ornamental piece.

Each bowl was then individually packaged in a hand-made cedar gift box produced in Langley by Woodpak Industries Inc.

Jaan Andres sand blasting some finishing touches on a Supernatural Bowl. Photo: SwitzerCultCreative

The pressure mounted when the bowls, shipped out to Burbank, California were slowed down by the one big snowstorm that seems to hit Vancouver every year. “We were biting our nails,” admits Switzer,“but everything arrived intact a day ahead of our deadline.” 

“I’m just honoured that Al Pacino, Leonardo DiCaprio and Scarlett Johansson among others have my pieces and hope they enjoy them!” says Andres.

A selection of the Supernatural Bowls can be ordered through SwitzerCultCreative. ($250.each )

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Acquiring furniture and other home furnishing items from a local business that supports makers in your community has some important benefits, particularly in this time of climate emergency.

It helps the makers develop their talent and keep working in their field.   Investing in hand made furniture, art and accessories made in British Columbia and throughout Canada is the only way to ensure that these artisans, artists and craftspeople can invest all their time in their work.

By purchasing locally made product, you invest in the local economy.  Small business owners generally keep the proceeds in the local economy, by re-investing in their business and helping the wider community economy to grow.

Reduce your carbon footprint by lessening the impact of shipping when you purchase locally made items.  Designer showrooms like ours stock brands that are imported from Europe or Asia.  When we opened our showroom four years ago it was with two goals.  One was to offer designs that were not available elsewhere, of high quality, authentic design and accessible.  The other was to support local artisans and makers.  We endeavoured to offer a choice.  

 

Here in British Columbia, we live close to nature.  When we support local entrepreneurs, and craftspeople, we help to reduce our carbon footprint and make a positive impact on our environment.

 

 

 

Here are some examples of pieces that are locally made.

Vertex Cube by Jason Klager.

Clair End Table by Autonomous Furniture

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eclipse Sideboard in Blackened Oak.

Orca Chair & Ottoman by Jay Miron

One if the advantages of ordering from a local maker is the opportunity to customize a design to meet the specifications of your project.  Size, wood species and design changes are all possible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kick Chair & Ottoman from Nicholas Purcell

 

 

 

 

Emerald Side Table from Sholto Design

 

 

Beautifully designed and hand crafted here in Vancouver.  We can no longer say that it must be imported to be of high quality. SwitzerCultCreative is not the only local business that supports locally made product.  Located here in the Armoury District one of our neighbours Provide Home also works with local artists including Lisa Turner’s Quake Furniture Collection and the Barter Collection from Kenny Torrance. We encourage you to check them out.  And to see all our Made in Canada pieces look here: http://www.switzercultcreative.com/products/category/made-in-canada

Geo Coffee Table and Mirror designed by Eli Chissick & Made in Vancouver.

Posted on by Renee | Leave a comment

TIMELINES: A New Exhibition At SwitzerCultCreative Traces the Passage of Time In Blown Glass By Jaan Andres and Through the Lens of Vince Hemingson

Glass artist Jaan Andres with ‘Timelines’. Photo: Christian Nambayan

By Laura Goldstein

Like icicles dissolving into an imaginary landscape, Jaan Andres’ blown glass Crystal Curios are alive with movement: while ridges of sediment have built up at a glacial pace over eons of time, the patterning in Coded Bowls mimics a kinetic energy that appears to swirl at a dizzying speed. Textural squiggles collide in a frenetic decorative motif. Their fragility is juxtaposed by the timelessness of Andres’ design.

The opening of ‘Timelines’ at SwitzerCultCreative.

“Everything around us is speeding up,” says Andres at the crowded opening of his first public Exhibition in the SwitzerCultCreative showroom. Recently, my work uses both sedimentary and, what I perceive as its opposite, accelerated textures.” 

His sculptural pieces are the culmination of work he produced during this past summer’s artists’ residency at the prestigious Museum of Glass at the Tacoma Art Museum in Washington. It attracts a select group of internationally known and emerging artists to their intensive Hot Shop in which glassblowers work in teams exploring new techniques and styles. 

‘Coded Bowls’ Blue/Black by Jaan Andres. Hot sculpted glass, wheel carved and polished. Photo: Christian Nambayan

Having grown up in the picturesque Haliburton region of Ontario, Andres was indirectly influenced by his uncle, celebrated Canadian abstract painter Jaan Poldaas. After moving to Calgary he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from ACAD and a Board of Governors Award for glass in 2007

‘About the Knee’ by Jann Andres Photo: Christian Nambayan

“About the Knee is by far the most complicated piece I’ve created,” confides the Vancouver-based glassblower. “It’s all about the curve that culminates in an unbelievable infinity point,” Andres explains. Exquisitely lit, the sculptural piece casts a shadow that dances in its own reflection and would make a beautiful lamp or hanging pendant. “It’s the perfect marriage of glass and light,” he says. “Like every glass artist in the world, transitioning into lighting is a natural progression and I absolutely will be exploring that more in the future.”

When not creating his own commissions at Vancouver’s Terminal City Glass, Andres continues to teach classes there and blowing glass for Omer Arbel’s international contemporary design and manufacturing company, BOCCI.

Photographer, Vince Hemingson with ‘Tree of Life’

Photographer Vince Hemingson’s Bodies of Work: Ten Years of Photography is an evocative interpretation in black and white of a woman’s lifecycle and her analogous relationship to the physical landscape. 

Born in Manitoba. Hemingson has lived on Vancouver Island since 1973. The award-winning photographer worked with National Geographic making documentaries for several years, before transitioning into photography. His fascination with body image and illuminating inner identity began with The Tattoo Project, published by Schiffer Books. “I shot 350 portraits in studio in colour so for my next project I wanted to do something completely different,” he explains. “In 2010 I turned 50 and went to 16 countries photographing many wild animals and when I got back I thought, ‘wouldn’t it be interesting to shoot people as if they were wild animals’. I liked the idea of photographing women as fierce, wild creatures in nature where they could feel free to express themselves.”

From Nude in the Landscape series by Vince Hemingson. Photo: Vince Hemingson

The first in the Nude in the Landscape series was shot in 2011 at Wreck Beach and Pacific Regional Park, west of Vancouver. Hemingson chose ancient driftwood etched with gauged striated textures and smooth, time-worn boulders washed by waves as his set design on which models reclined. In one photo a model is crouched in a fetal position wrapped in a womb of tree roots and branches. 

Tree of Life photographed in August of 2019 depicts women in various seasons of their lives as time alters their bodies, including pregnancy. The photo has already been viewed online by over a million people.

“Most of the women aren’t professional models and range in age from 19 to 70 -years- old. I hope Tree of Life reflects the ethnicity of women in the community and all body types,” says Hemingson. 

Walking through the photographic Exhibition with Hemingson in the showroom of SwitzerCultCreative, revealed some interesting behind-the-scenes commentary:

From ‘Nude in the Landscape’ series by Vince Hemingson. Photo: Vince Hemingson

“This is up in Snowshoe Park on Cypress Mountain,” he explains of a model posed in the snow. “What you don’t see there is a whole infrastructure to protect her from the cold hidden from view. A plastic tarp is down on the ground and wool blanket wraps her feet so the model just had to pose for about 60 seconds.”

In another photograph, a model appears in an underwater ballet, blending seamlessly with the light-dappled rocks and sand. “You find a model who says ‘I always wanted to be a mermaid,’ and you ask them to dive under the water 200 times because you can never plan what it’s going to look like,” laughs Hemingson. 

From Nude in the Landscape series by Vince Hemingson. Photo: Vince Hemingson

“As a photographer, I’m transfixed by optics and caustic ripples. What happens is when you have an uneven surface of water the ripples act as prisms. It reminds me of abstract Expressionism and the interplay between the conscious and unconscious worlds. “

“You know, it was so interesting for me as a man working on this project because it’s amazing how little we as men know about the lives of women,” he says candidly.” “I was very shocked at how all these women, who I thought were all very beautiful, were so critical of their bodies! Ninety percent of women aren’t happy about their own bodies and I think that’s kind of tragic.”

TIMELINES is showcased at the SwitzerCultCreative showroom, 1725 West 3rd Avenue until December 31st, 2019.

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SkLO Studio: Seeing Sculpture In A New Light

Colourful hand-blown Czech Float Pendants by SkLO Studio reflect their surroundings. No two are the same. Photo:Adza Aubry

By Laura Goldstein

Dew Pendant in hand-blown Czech glass by SkLO Studio. Photo: Adza Aubry

As graceful as a multi-tiered necklace, orbs of suspended light compose a chandelier’s planetary system of handblown Czech glass. And in a single lighting pendant, an abstract drop of dew is captured in multiple layers when the glass is molten then attached to a brass armature. It’s a jewel-like sculptural pendant the likes of which  Mother Nature would surely approve.

“We emphasize the organic nature of glass and I try to honour the material in all my designs from lighting to accessories,” explains Karen Gilbert, co-founder of SkLO Studio from her California base near San Francisco.

A curated selection of SkLO Studio lighting and sculptural glass accessories are showcased at the SwitzerCultCreative showroom, 1725 West 3rd Avenue.

Although not originally a family business, “we have sort of turned it into one,” laughs Gilbert who is SkLO’s design director. Founded in 2009 with her husband, architect Paul Pavlak and brothers, Pavel and Petr Hanousek (the latter both based in the Czech Republic and oversee the glass-blowing team,) they  strive to bring the great history, tradition and quality of hand-blown Czech glass into 21st Century interior design and décor trends. In fact, they take their moniker ‘sklo’ from the Czech word meaning glass.

Karen Gilbert and Pavel Pavlak husband and wife design duo at SkLO Studio, California. Photo: Adza Aubry

“We really want to emphasize the craft of glass-blowing practiced by some of the best artisans in the world for SkLO and our aesthetic is one of subtlety and quiet beauty not overly designed pieces,” affirms Gilbert.

It’s not surprising to learn that Gilbert was originally trained in the crafts of metalsmithing and jewelry design with a penchant for intricate more delicate pieces. Combining those talents with drawing, painting and metal fabrication, she works with her husband who brings the larger architectural and sculptural structure of lighting pieces to fruition. The drape skirt 9 Chandelier consists of nine hand-blown pendants gathered together in a central brass skirt structure. The signature SkLO double-dipped, fire-polished mouths (where the glass leaves the blower’s pipe,) are each unique.

The Drape Skirt 28 Chandelier comprised of 28 hand-blown Czech glass orbs. Photo: Adza Aubry

The drape skirt 28 Chandelier is a waterfall of 28 stunning hand-blown pendants supported by a series of four consecutively smaller brass rings. It makes a resounding statement suspended from the ceiling over a multiple-storey stairwell. Electrical cord is fabric-wrapped and available in a variety of hues.

The Drape Skirt 9 Chandelier in dark oxidized finish with hand-blown Czech glass by SkLO Studio. Photo: Adza Aubry

Colourful float pendants do just that; hand-blown planets in slightly irregular one-of-a- kind translucent glass that by day, reflect the outdoors and by night, cast a subtle bewitching galactic glow.

Many of SkLO’s glass accessories trigger the imagination: wrap object is created from one sinuous length of handblown Czech glass and no two are exactly the same. Whether you see them as an elaborate sailor’s knot or a child’s twisted balloon object is up to the viewer. Join vessels are a kaleidoscope of colours and slightly distorted image: a fun-house of mirrors reflected in bottles. Two separate cylinders of glass in vibrant colours are fused together while hot. The top has an off-centre neck while the bottom cylinder is round with a polished edge. 

Join Vessels by SkLO Studio in a kaleidoscope of colours in hand-blown Czech glass have a slightly distorted image.Photo: Adza Aubry

“Women are becoming more and more interested in lighting design,” enthuses Gilbert. “I think I take it a step further because I also construct the prototypes that traditionally, have been a male domain,” she admits.

“We’ve been very busy working on our 2020 lighting debut at Light + Building in Frankfurt Germany one of the largest lighting fairs in the world and then Maison & Object in Paris,” says Gilbert. “In Europe they like to pair very modern lighting with furniture brands. Whereas in North America, clients are much more traditional in their tastes.

“It’s that difference in aesthetics that makes it a very interesting time for us!”

Wrap Object is created from a sinuous length of handblown Czech glass and no two are exactly the same. SkLO Studio. Photo: Adza Aubry

Posted in Contemporary, Contract/Hospitality, Design Community, Designer Showroom, Interior Design, Interior Design Show, Interior Design Showroom, Lighting, Luxury, Modern | Leave a comment

ARTISAN: “We Have Known Wood Our Entire Lives, From the Forest We Played In As Children”- Fadil Ćostović, Co-Founder

The Thor Daybed by Fahmida Lam for ARTISAN. Photo courtesy ARTISAN

By Laura Goldstein

Many entrepreneurial partnerships seem to begin serendipitously. Fadil Ćostović, a craftsman with a well-established family wood production business for over 60 years in Tešanj, Bosnia was constructing furniture and all the wood interiors for a summer house owned by Dražen Poznanović. 

The Neva Chair designed by the Regular Company, Bosnia for ARTISAN. Photo courtesy Artisan.

“Dražen was so happy with the design and quality of Fadil’s workmanship that the two decided to collaborate and formed ARTISAN in 2007,” relates the company’s vivacious sales manager, Armin Huremović from their workshop and factory/showroom known as Ćostović.

A curated selection of ARTISAN furniture will be showcased in the SwitzerCultCreative Booth #603 at the upcoming Interior Design Show, IDS-Vancouver, September 26th-29th at the Vancouver Convention Centre and the SwitzerCultCreative showroom, 1725 West 3rd Avenue.

In 2009 the ARTECO Wood Technology Centre was formed by ARTISAN to establish a new movement within the Bosnia-Herzegovina wood industry. Not content to solely rely on raw wood exports, their mandate was to develop the company’s expertise and infrastructure all in one place: from harvesting wood, cutting in their own sawmill, processing, design to final craftmanship and sales of the furniture. With zero waste, ARTISAN even recycles sawdust into pellets used for heating the workshop.

The WU Chair by Italians Fabio Damiani + Marco Quistini of Studio Pang for ARTISAN. Photo courtesy ARTISAN

“We began small but strategically by collaborating with a very select group of well -established international designers like German product designer, Michael Schneider and Germany was our very first foreign market,” Huremović explains. The WU Chair by Italians Fabio Damiani + Marco Quistini of Studio Pang for ARTISAN exemplifies a smooth wide joint detail in the seat while Canadian, (New York -based) product and furniture designer, Karim Rashid’s funky Cart Coffee Table is composed of two slim stems of solid elm with room for magazine storage between the two. 

Canada’s Karim Rashid’s funky Cart Coffee Table is composed of two slim stems of solid elm with room for magazine storage between the two. Photo courtesy ARTISAN

ARTISAN has been instrumental in developing and promoting Bosnian makers like award-winning The Regular Company: Their ergonomic Neva Chair and Neva Lounge Chair Trimmed available in solid oak, walnut, elm, maple, cherry, pear wood, has a tilted and arched back that flows into the armrests creating one continuous line. 

The BLOOP Coffee Tables Designed by Croations, Rudjer Novak-Mikulic and Marija Ruzic for ARTISAN. Photo courtesy ARTISAN

Like their name implies, The BLOOP Coffee Tables have a sense of humour all their own. Designed by Croations, Rudjer Novak-Mikulic and Marija Ruzic the low, solid wood oval tables have a balanced, but off-centre pedestal.

“It’s also very interesting for us to learn different country’s preferences in wood furniture styles,” Huremović explains. In Germany, for example, 90% of our chairs are upholstered in leather for clients while in France, clients prefer fabric upholstery.” ARTISAN has recently partnered with Danish textile company, Kvadrat the international purveyor of extraordinary fabrics for four collections of furniture.

Neva Lounge Chair Trimmed by the Regular Company for ARTISAN available in solid oak, walnut, elm, maple, cherry, pear wood, has a tilted and arched back. Photo courtesy ARTISAN.

“It’s extremely important to ARTISAN to discover and develop new relationships with designers early in their careers. For example,” says Huremović, “we saw emerging residential furniture designer, Fahmida Lam at ICFF in New York. We made the prototype for her Thor Daybed and now produce it in our workshop.”

“You know a healthy environment is not just about external things,” says Huremović. ARTISAN believes that furniture in our homes needs to start with natural materials too.”

Posted in Contemporary, Design Community, Designer Showroom, Interior Design, Interior Design Show, Interior Design Showroom, Luxury, Modern, Sustainable Home Furniture, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ZANAT Goes Back To The Future Producing Contemporary Furniture With Historical Wood Carving Techniques

The Ett Holm Hotel in Stockholm Sweden commissioned ZANAT for the Unna Chairs by Monica Förster for their dining area. Photo courtesy ZANAT

By Laura Goldstein

Orhan Niksic CEO and ZANAT co-founder. Photo: Jasmin Brutus

“There’s an emotional appeal to our brand and not just because our family has been producing hand-carved furniture since 1919,” says Orhan Niksic CEO and ZANAT co-founder, from his factory/showroom in Konjic, Bosnia.

A former senior economist with the World Bank, Niksic has parlayed a century-old family company based upon traditional hand-carving techniques, into a modern, design-forward business with emphasis on environmental sustainability and developing local Bosnian design talent in the global marketplace.

A curated selection of ZANAT furniture will be showcased in the SwitzerCultCreative Booth #603 at the upcoming Interior Design Show, IDS-Vancouver, September 26th-29th at the Vancouver Convention Centre and the SwitzerCultCreative showroom, 1725 West 3rd Avenue.

ZANAT (meaning “craft” in Bosnian,) has its roots with Orhan and brother, Adem’s great- grandfather who developed an intricate and highly ornate hand wood-carving technique in his village of Konjic. He even teamed up with other established furniture makers of the time to exhibit at fairs and exhibitions in Milan, Paris and at the 1900 Millennium Exhibition in Vienna. It’s a point of pride for his great grandsons that 100 years later, their furniture collections are still being showcased at international interior design shows.

The ZANAT showroom/factory in Konjic, Bosnia-Herzegovina. Photo: Jasmin Brutus

It was on vacation in 2013 on the beautiful island of Korcula in Croatia that the idea for ZANAT and giving the family business a new direction, was born. “With our friend, Mark Bartolini, we discussed how we could meld sustainability of wood from Bosnia’s abundant forests, good governance and job creation with a new vision for contemporary furniture collections. I was really disillusioned with the poor quality of craftsmanship on the market and I knew we could combine our traditional carving techniques with new designs without the quality suffering. They are not mutually exclusive,” says Niksic.

Monica Förster for ZANAT’s first Collection of Unna chairs and tables. Lacey carved leafs fit easily inside to extend the table. Photo courtesy ZANAT

It was no coincidence then, that Niksic approached Swedish furniture designer, Monica Förster for ZANAT’s first Collection of Unna chairs and tables. The antithesis of heavy furniture design once popularized in Europe, “Scandinavian designs are so sleek and elegant. Our lace-like hand-carved leaf extensions in oak, maple, cherry or walnut can even be created in a contrasting colour,” Niksic explains. 

Scandinavian architects Gert Wingårdh & Sara Helder designed the Tattoo Stools and Barstools for ZANAT. Photo courtesy ZANAT.

Scandinavian architects and product designers, Gert Wingårdh & Sara Helder designed the Tattoo Stools and Barstools for ZANAT. Their clean designs in maple have an exotic twist with peacock and pheasant abstract carvings on the seats. Finnish designer, Harri Koskinen’s Igman Lounge Chair & Ottoman boasts hand-carved designs on the solid wood arms and are upholstered in buttery vegetable-tanned top stitched leather.

British designer, Ilse Crawford from Studioilse packs a punch with her tactile Touch Sideboard for ZANAT. Photo courtesy ZANAT

British designer, Ilse Crawford from Studioilse packs a punch with her tactile Touch Sideboard for ZANAT. No two hand-carved surfaces of the multi-purpose storage cabinets are the same. Available in three and four-door versions, the legs are available in wood or cast-bronze versions.

ZANAT bespoke furniture commissions are sought after for hotels and restaurants including the Ett Holm Hotel in Stockholm, Hotel V Amsterdam, the Andaz Hotel in London.

Jasna Mujkic who also teaches at the Arts Academy in Sarajevo. designed the Quiet Chair with geometric hand-carved back. Photo courtesy ZANAT

The wood industry in Bosnia-Herzegovina is the largest and the strongest export in the region. One of ZANAT’s mandates is to mentor and promote Bosnian talent to the design world at large. “We have trained 20 new apprentices in our art of wood-carving and have affiliated ourselves with several design and technology programs offered at the University of Sarajevo,” Niksic explains. 

“For example, Jasna Mujkic who also teaches at the Arts Academy in Sarajevo. “Her Quiet Chair and Stool are classically elegant with subtly geometric carved patterns on the back rest. And, coming full circle, on December 6th, 2017, the small Bosnian town of Konjic and ZANAT’s birthplace was inscribed into the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in acknowledgement of the superior craftsmanship of the region. In celebration of that honour, ZANAT recently opened their own museum dedicated to the history of wood-carving. 

“You know, three years ago when we first exhibited in Milan, nobody knew us,” admits Niksic. “That’s one reason that we started partnering with some internationally established designers. But we have fantastic talent here in Bosnia and now when we participate at design fairs, buyers are coming to us.”

The bespoke boardroom table in multiple wood grains was designed and built by ZANAT for a client in Saudia Arabia. Photo courtesy ZANAT.

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