5 Canadian Design Studios to Watch

, , , , , , , , , , , By Catherine

Today is Canada Day. Happy celebrations to all my fellow Canucks!

I wanted to take this opportunity to put into the spotlight a few designers and companies leading the charge in our bustling design scene and making their mark around the world. Here, you’ll find some of my personal favourites:


1. Lambert & Fils

Based in Montreal, Lambert & Fils is a collaborative design studio founded in 2010 by Samuel Lambert. The talented team makes beautiful and modern custom lighting characterized by clean lines, balance forms and timeless aesthetics. I just treated myself with one of their fab suspensions – I can’t wait to receive it (lead time is about 7 weeks) and install it above my dining table!

“Lambert & Fils draws inspiration from art, design and architecture history to create sleek yet poetic lights, in which apparent simplicity does not exclude design complexity. All collections are designed, manufactured and assembled in Montreal. Lambert & Fils commits itself to a tradition of high-quality in-house design, local savoir-faire, and a strong, collaborative team spirit.”




2. Coolican & Company

Coolican & Company locally produces durable and high quality furniture that is built to last. Their collection consists of small, limited run and numbered batch made by skillful craftsmen. I am a huge fan of their simple silhouettes, especially their Madison chair in white oak and Danish cord – Stunning!

“At Coolican & Company, we consider it our responsibility to create products that age well. We strive for an aesthetic that you won’t tire of and craftsmanship that won’t give out. We believe that furniture shouldn’t be replaced like a cellphone or a pair of running shoes. This is endlessly durable & purposefully made. Whether it’s handmade or mass produced, expensive or cheap, a tremendous amount of energy and resources are consumed in the production of furniture. When you buy it once, you leave more of those resources where they belong. This is furniture for people who want to live with objects that they truly love and appreciate. Furniture that they want to last – to go with them in their lives. And, ultimately, to be passed along to loved ones, not left begging for a home on the side of the curb. These are items that we’re proud to produce and we’re confident you’ll be proud to own them.”




3. MSDS Studio

Toronto-based multidisciplinary studio known for its inspiring interior, furniture and lighting design. Jessica Nakanishi and Jonathan Sabine are the duo behind many well-known products manufactured by Muuto, Would, Normann Copenhagen and Common Good, among others.

“MSDS Studio produces design that engages contemporary culture while adhering to the abiding principles of good design and the inheritance of craftsmanship. Their work synthesizes considerations of material, form, space, and brief into resolved works of interior, furniture, and lighting design. This multidisciplinarity informs the resourcefulness that is the hallmark of their practice. MSDS believes that interior space should act as a stimulating yet intimate interface between human and building.”




4. Castor Design

Castor Design is a Toronto-based practice run by Brian Richer (a trained architectural stone carver with a degree in English literature and philosophy) and Kei Ng (a trained architect with a background in set design). They quickly built a name for themselves in both the design and art world, as well as contributing to the music and restaurant scene in their local Toronto. They have worked on interiors projects, custom lighting and furniture design, and public art commissions throughout North America, Europe, and Asia.

They are interested in the middle ground between art and design, bringing a sense of irreverence to each project. Materials and their reuse make up an important part of Castor’s aesthetic; burnt out bulbs to make lighting, a rusty shipping container to make a sauna.




5. Knauf and Brown

Knauf and Brown is D Calen Knauf and Conrad Brown, based in Vancouver, Canada. Many years of friendship have lead to the partnership they form now: The pair met through skateboarding in 2001 and have been exchanging opinions on shapes, colours, and textures ever since. The rarity of their collaboration shows when discussing the final results of a project–in most cases it is impossible to point out which element of a design came from which mind.

Knauf and Brown have an unnatural obsession with studying the spaces and objects that surround life. Both partners bring strong aesthetic experience from image-based practices, Calen coming from a graphic design background, and Conrad working in photography. They place a huge importance on knowing how to balance practicality with beauty, and when to prioritize one over the other. For the duo, the relationship between function and form is complex and ever changing.

Their studio was formed three years into a four year bachelor degree in industrial design. The pair’s Heavystock shelving, designed during their third year of school, was noticed by designer Kenyon Yeh, and is now manufactured by his brand, Esaila, after its debut at Maison et Objet in September of 2013. Their work and interviews have been featured online and in print, including Frame, RUM, and Dwell magazines.




What do you think of this selection?

More exciting design from Canada to come soon on Nordic Design!





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