EQ3 emerging Canadian Designers

A New Collection By a Dream Team of Canadian Designers

When we introduced you last month to Thom Fougere, creative director of the Canadian furniture brand EQ3, we had no idea this was coming down the pike: At next week's Toronto Interior Design Show, the brand will launch Assembly, a capsule furniture and accessories collection featuring designs by 10 of Canada's most exciting emerging designers, including Fougere himself, MSDS (who we featured last year) and Sight Unseen OFFSITE alum Zoë Mowat (whose beautiful geometric dressing table can be seen above).
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Canadian furniture designer Thom Fougere

A Canadian Furniture Designer Strikes Out On His Own

At the age of just 24, having just graduated from architecture school, the Winnipeg–based designer Thom Fougere became the creative director of EQ3 (which is something like the Canadian version of Room & Board). Now, just five years later, Fougere has opened up his own shop as well.
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Mercury Bureau, Furniture Designer

We've heard of people putting their art career on hold in order to be a designer, or their finance career on hold in order to be an artist, but Shane Krepakevich is probably the first person we've known who put his geology career on hold to make furniture. The Edmonton native initially chose science over art when attending college in the late '90s, but realized after graduating that it would be easier for him to return to geology later than vice versa. After painting and then sculpting his way through an MFA in 2010 — with a focus on functional objects and architectural measurements — he began moonlighting for the Montreal lighting studio Lambert & Fils. The rest, as they say, is history: Krepakevich moved to Toronto this past September, set up his own design studio under the name Mercury Bureau, and released a collection of lights, tables, and shelves that dovetail with his still-ongoing art practice.
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Knauf & Brown, furniture designers

Formafantasma, Ladies & Gentlemen, Rich Brilliant Willing: The list of design partnerships that began in art school is pretty endless. But rare is the pair who knew and liked each other enough to not only register at the same university at the same time but also to enroll in all of the same classes, “to keep each other on our toes.” That’s Calen Knauf and Conrad Brown of the emerging Vancouver-based design studio Knauf & Brown talking; the two met through skateboarding more than a decade ago. Brown was a photographer and Knauf a graphic designer, and once they graduated from their industrial design program at Emily Carr, the natural thing to do was to go into business together. “It’s a good partnership,” they say, “because we both have different strengths, but fairly similar aesthetics.” What exactly defines that aesthetic is still a bit up in the air, considering that the two graduated only last year. But what’s emerged so far has shown an emphasis on simple and honest natural materials, like ash and marble, as well as a healthy sense of humor that occasionally surfaces in the form of performance art. For “despite how much of our lives we dedicate to design and our studio, we still place a high priority on having as much fun as possible,” they say. “We both still skateboard, and regularly get up to no good.” Read on for a deeper look into their brand-new practice.
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Lindsey Hampton, Ceramicist and Graphic Designer

Lindsey Hampton splits her time between designing dynamic concert posters and soothing ceramics at her potters wheel. Her process and mediums are fluid, skipping from sculpture to print design is natural progression for Hampton. "Everything in my vision holds equal weight, whether it's graphic design, ceramics, sculpture, photography, music, anything. There's a great deal of spontaneity involved. It all takes shape within the action and is rarely sketched or planned." Palettes, shapes and patterns in her work speak together across all platforms, her voice is loud and clear. Hampton lives and works in Vancouver, BC.
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Anthony Gerace’s Seaside Towns Index

A few months ago, the London artist Anthony Gerace made the blog rounds with a series of paper collages sourced from 1960s-era magazines. But arresting as those were, when we went snooping on his website, we found something we liked even better: Gerace’s photography work, which includes The Seaside Towns Index we’re featuring today. It is, as Gerace describes it, “a collection of landscape photographs, contextual still-lifes and portraits of seaside towns in England, showing the fading grandeur, disarray and chaos that's in them, but also the quietly compassionate and strange elements that are uniquely theirs.” We asked Gerace to tell us a little bit more about the project.
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Roula Parthenou, Parts and Wholes, 2013: “Roula’s earlier work consisted of pieces she called handmade readymades: She’d buy pre-made canvases from art supply stores, find objects in the same size and shape like books or pieces of lumber, then paint the canvases as replicas. These tables, from her recent third solo show with the gallery, contain objects that look like books or other mysterious things; things that look like holes but aren’t holes, or that look like they’re part of something but you don’t know what. There are blocks of wood that look like sponges, but there's also part of a rain pipe that’s an actual pipe. Very few of them are found objects, but you start to question that.”

Michael Klein of Toronto’s MKG127 Gallery

According to Canadian curator Michael Klein, when people think of art in Vancouver, they think of photo-conceptualism. When they think of Winnipeg, it’s the Royal Art Lodge, the drawing collective founded in 1996 that launched the careers of talents like Marcel Dzama. But Toronto, on the other hand, resists such classifications — it’s one of the most diverse cities in the world, says Klein, and the same can be said for its art scene. So why do we automatically associate the city with the kind of clever, minimalist conceptual work that Klein shows at MKG127, the gallery he founded there in 2007? Blame the artist Micah Lexier — we covered his amazing A to B installation on Sight Unseen in 2010, and then proceeded to fall down the MKG rabbit hole, marveling both at the subtle, obsessive-compulsive thrills that characterize many of the works shown there and at the weird cohesiveness of Klein’s vision.
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Lukas and Oskar Peet, Product Designers

There's a reason why one of the first questions we always ask Sight Unseen subjects is "What did your parents do?" In the nearly two years we've been producing this site, it's become apparent that the ideas and habits of ultra-creative people usually germinate in childhood, and that the environments in which they were raised tend to have played a part — whether their formative years resembled those of Kiki van Eijk, whose father competed on the 1976 Dutch Olympic field hockey team but also taught her to paint, or Lauren Kovin, whose parents filled the house with Ettore Sottsass furniture. The more designers and artists in a given family, the more interesting things tend to get, which is why we decided to start this new Related column. In it, we'll periodically ask creative talents who are related to interview one another about their respective practices and what it was like growing up in close proximity. First up are brothers Lukas Peet, 24, and Oskar Peet, 27, up-and-coming designers who were born and raised in the Canadian mountain resort town of Banff, attended the Design Academy Eindhoven together, and whose Dutch-born father Rudi Peet immigrated to Banff in 1974 and has since established himself as a successful jewelry designer there.
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Philippe Malouin’s studio on Yatzer.com

On occasion, the editors of Sight Unseen spot a story about creativity told from a viewpoint that’s not unlike our own. This one, posted yesterday on the design blog Yatzer, peeks in on the studio of Québec-born, London-based designer Philippe Malouin. Malouin is known for taking his time with a project — after painstaking research, his recent chainmail-like Yachiyo rug for Beirut’s Carwan Gallery famously took 3,000 hours to produce — and in the article, writer Stefania Vourazeri probes the young designer about his thoughts on permanence as well as the influence of art on his designs. "Production for the sake of production is not that interesting to me,” he explains.
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Carwan Gallery Launch: Samare

Through today, Sight Unseen is showcasing the work of half a dozen designers and design firms exhibiting together at the Milan Furniture Fair under the umbrella of the soon-to-launch Carwan Gallery in Beirut. Here, Nicolas Bellevance-Lecompte, one quarter of the Montreal and Milan–based design studio Samare and the co-founder of the Carwan gallery itself, tells us about the group's new and strikingly geometric felted-wool rugs, made in collaboration with the Belgian textile designers Antonin Bachet and Linda Topic. The project is the latest addition to Samare's ongoing Pays d’en Haut Legacy series, which investigates and then reinterprets the vernacular forms and decorative motifs of Canada's upper country, home to its logging and fur trades. Since their studio launch in 2008, they've worked with local snowshoe craftsman, weavers, and furriers in an attempt to show the world — and their fellow Canadians — how these longtime traditions and crafts can still prove relevant to contemporary culture. After the Milan fair, the rugs will travel to New York, where they'll be presented by the design store Matter during ICFF.
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Box divided into twenty compartments: “I think this came from some kind of dentist — there was stuff in each compartment at some point, little remnants of fillings and other things. That’s what I love about objects that have been removed from their original context: There’s a reason why they were made a certain way, but when you take that reason away they’re just decoratively beautiful and unknowable objects.”

A to B at Toronto’s MKG127

There’s no object too mundane to catch Micah Lexier’s eye. He collects scraps torn off cardboard boxes, envelopes and papers lying in the street, even bathroom-cleaning checklists at restaurants — anything that deals with the passage of time or with systems, the driving forces behind his own work as an artist. “I love garbage day,” he says. “It’s hard for me to walk home and not find things. I keep a knife in my pocket just in case.” It’s not that Lexier necessarily uses these found items in his own pieces, like the 1994 series in which he photographed 75 men from age 1 to 75, all of whom were named David. They’re just another part of his lifelong fascination with the aesthetics of order, a way of seeing the world that was mapped out perfectly in the show he recently curated at Toronto’s MKG127 gallery, where curiosities from his collection sat alongside sequentially themed works by other artists.
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