Entries from September 18th, 2013

Insider’s Look: A Feast for the Eyes

Sep 18, 2013

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Keeping it real with a recap of our staff summer picnic…

 

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It was a warm, sunny afternoon in mid-August, and the team sat lazily on large picnic blankets (crafted out of fabric remnants from the upholstery shop beneath our head office) stuffing themselves with sandwiches so big that they could barely wrap their hands around them! Resigned to the fact that there was no pretty or polite way to eat these things, the group just bit in and began devouring them.

 

Lucky for you, we captured it all on camera – a true feast for the eyes. We begin with a few awkward close-ups of our team chowing down, followed by a look at the contentment that comes from enjoying hearty food truck fare like this.

 

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The Back-story on Vitra’s Tip Ton Chair

Sep 16, 2013

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The widely popular North American blog Design Milk recently posted a fantastic article on the Tip Ton Chair, designed by Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby (2011) for Vitra. The feature is part of a series that Design Milk is publishing on their blog, exploring classic and modern design, and it covers everything from the intensive research and design development that went into perfecting the chair’s design (complete with sketches of concept typologies) to the actual manufacturing process.

 

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The Tip Ton Chair is universally designed, offering two sitting positions that support proper posture for all functions. Occupants can sit normal in an upright position or sit forward in a slightly tilted position. You can read Design Milk’s article Tipping Point: The Tip Ton Chair for the full story. And, you can visit EQ3.com to shop for the Tip Ton and other EQ3+ Vitra products.

 

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Catalogue Favourites

Sep 10, 2013

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We polled the EQ3 team to find out which lifestyle shot from the new EQ3 2013-2014 Catalogue is their favourite. The responses that came back were as varied as the look and feel of each lifestyle.

 

Read on to find out who likes what and why!

 

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Paul’s Fave (Senior Graphic Designer)

Obviously I’m a little biased because I was on set every day. The day we shot the Bantam work table (Page 99) and Stella sofa (Page 22) everything went really smoothly and the energy on set was great – lots of music and lots of laughs. Unfortunately, it wasn’t like that every day. I feel like that energy really came across in the Bantam photograph. For me, the colours in the props and products, and the reflections in the glass backdrop really create a vibrant workspace.

 

 

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Alex’s Fave (Graphic Designer)

I chose the Stella shot (Page 22) for a few reasons. This day was the most fun I had working on the photoshoot, I love all the plants, and we ate tacos outside for lunch.

 

 

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Cliff’s Fave (Visual Coordinator – Winnipeg)

The lifestyle shot I chose was the cover image featuring the new Eve sofa and chair. I find this image attractive because of its relaxed yet balance composition, bright light and unique setting. I appreciate the approach to staging the shot – with an eclectic array of brand new and previously introduced EQ3 product, EQ3+, accessories, and personal objects. The combination of balanced composition, bright lighting, unique setting, and careful staging allows the image to read as simple, comfortable, and relaxed – and who doesn’t want that?

 

The Lawrence recliner shot (Page 2) is a close second because of the awesome cat.

 

 

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Carla’s Fave (Product Development Coordinator)

My favourite catalogue shot is the 2 page spread of the Eve sofa (Page 4 – 5). I love the combination of the colours.

 

Heather’s Fave (Graphic Designer)

I like the Reverie and Eames lounge chair lifestyle ((Page 8 – 9). It just looks like a warm and inviting space, and it kind of welcomes you to sit down.

 

 

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Allison’s Fave (Marketing and Communications Coordinator)

My favourite shot is the Clyde dining table (Page 92). This shot is my favourite because of the crisp colours. I love how the small bursts of colour pop from the page creating the perfect amount of interest. I also love the shadows the lean legs of the Valentin occasional chairs create. Super dramatic.

 

 

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Madi’s Fave (Casegood Product Developmont Coordinator)

I like the Reclaimed Teak bedroom (Page 70 – 71), but I’m super biased! I also like the cover image, and the one with the Eames lounge chair and ottoman.

 

Brenna’s Fave (Merchandising and Store Planning Designer)

I like the Burrows shot (Page 74 – 75) because it seems warm, homey and a real-life shot. The haphazard arrangement of the items on the dresser make this feel like someone just left the room.

 

 

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Amy’s Fave (Social Media Associate)

The Elise sofa lifestyle (Page 25) tops my list of favourite shots in this year’s catalogue. There’s a wonderful mix of textures going on that lends real warmth to the otherwise minimal interior. The space feels at once streamlined and layered. Plus, who can argue with that view?

 

 

Now it’s your turn! Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest to show us your favourite!

 

And, if you missed last month’s behind the scenes post, you can view it here for an insider’s look at everything that went into making this year’s catalogue.

Interview: Valentin from 2213 Inc.

Sep 4, 2013

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Make Coffee and Stuff is a Winnipeg-based coffee shop that, when not busy satisfying locals’ caffeine cravings, plays host to the coolest architectural and design exhibitions the city has to offer. It was here that we discovered 2213 Inc., a Canadian design company that’s been building major steam ever since it’s launch in December of last year (2012).

 

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Image source (for above image only): portrait of Valentin Mittelstet by Sandra Birkner

 

Valentin Mittelstet – the founder, president and designer behind 2213 Inc. – grew up in Germany and studied constructional design out there before moving to Canada to live and work. After a stint in photography, followed by time spent travelling, Valentin put down roots in the southwestern part of Manitoba to launch his new creative venture. German and Canadian influences are both evident in 2213′s products, which combine modern and minimalist design with quality materials and craftsmanship. The company is quickly becoming known for their steel mailboxes and house numbers, meeting the demand for attractive, well-made fixtures for the front of the home – something that’s surprisingly hard to come by.

 

We recently sat down with Valentin in the 2213 office to talk about his products, the design process and where he looks for inspiration.

 

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EQ3  What’s your earliest memory of design?

 

VALENTIN MITTELSTET  I grew up very creative. From a young age I was actually drawing and painting. I used to do pretty much everything from graffiti to oil painting to photography. When I was 16 years old – in Germany it’s a bit different – I was done with school and I started to study design – constructional design. I was working basically part-time at a company that was building steel constructions…big industrial buildings, bridges and stuff like that. So I think that would be my first contact with design.

 

 

EQ3  What brought you to construction design to begin with?

 

VM  It’s very simple. I was only 16 years when I was done with school, so that was pretty early. I was interested in actually getting into an art school, but art school would be further away, so I would have to move away. My parents weren’t okay with that so I had to stick around and do whatever was available. That was the next closest thing to being creative, at that time I thought, so I just jumped right into it. Later on I figured that it’s not really being creative at all – it’s just work.

 

 

EQ3  Then, how did that prepare you for the creative work you do now?

 

VM  As I mentioned before, I was creative all my life so that was always somehow in the back of my head. But how it prepared me to design itself? I mean I learned the basics for design, obviously. A chair or a mailbox – the principals or the basics are the same as if you build something big. You can just scale it down and that’s what it is. Construction is construction. So design: it prepared me for everything. I learned materials. I learned different ways of producing things. I learned everything that has to do with design just on a bigger scale, that’s all.

 

 

EQ3  And so how did you get from there (in Germany) to owning your company here (in Canada)…because that’s a big jump!

 

VM  It’s a big jump, yeah. I was in Germany studying. Then I was working there for a year at the same company; and, then I was kind of tired of it. As I said, it was always an artist’s life that I had in the back of my mind. I wanted to do it for at least a short time of my life. So I moved to Winnipeg because my parents were living in Manitoba at the time already, so it was the easiest way for me to get out of Germany and move abroad, move to a different country, do something else. So I moved to Winnipeg and did photography. I did (fashion) photography in Winnipeg for three years. I was quite well known in Winnipeg and then I realized there was no money. So I started travelling and then was tired of it – travelling all the time. It’s not something for me. It’s fun for a while and then it kind of gets annoying. It was time to get back, but I didn’t want to just be a part of a big company and be a little part of it. I wanted to create my own. So right now I am here with my mailbox and house numbers, with more to come…and, happy about it. It’s going well so far.

 

 

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EQ3  What influences do you draw from when you’re designing?

 

VM  I am an extreme minimalist. Is that sad? Influences I draw from everywhere that’s around me. I know that’s a generic answer, but it’s true. I’m inspired a lot by Japanese architecture and Japanese architecture is just very minimal and cutting edge. And I personally think that it’s a good thing to cut down on details and just really go back to the basics: make it functional – make it very functional – and have it be a good quality product, but have it very clean for the eye. And I think you can see that in my products – it’s very minimal – and everything else that will come on from now will be very minimal.

 

I don’t know if I want to call it modern…it’s very minimal and very back to basics.

 

 

EQ3  Do you find that you have to start with something more elaborate and then strip away to get back to the very minimal basics?

 

VM  My thought is obviously there’s a process behind it. Let’s just say about the mailbox – everybody knows what a mailbox is. Everybody’s seen a mailbox before and everybody knows how a mailbox usually functions. You always have that in your head, somewhat. And then you have to erase it and create something totally new. Like our mailbox: it’s very minimal, actually very simple, but at the same time it’s super functional and sturdy and running smooth.

 

That was very important to me to actually get it to that point.

 

 

EQ3  There’s a strength to your pieces, I would say. Is that intentional?

 

VM  Yes, it is. I know a lot of people say that the mailbox is heavy, and it is heavy because we’re using steel, but at the same time I could use aluminum in the production process. It wouldn’t make a big difference, actually, but I want it to have a little weight to it.

 

 

EQ3  You mentioned about the process: knowing something and then erasing that and creating something totally new. Can you give us a bit of insight into your creative process? Where the ideas come from? How you explore them? How you implement them?

 

VM  I research a lot. I’m reading books.

 

I was looking for a product that we can produce that is small, that is cheap to produce, that is easy to produce and that can actually make an impact. When I was living in Winnipeg, I was walking through a neighbourhood and I was just wondering “okay what is missing?” I was looking at the house numbers and everything out there looked pretty bad. There is not very much available that is modern.

 

So we thought we could create something that is minimal, different and that people would love to have on their houses. That’s how I started to design house numbers. The process of designing this font (Valentin points to the product sitting on the desktop next to us) was actually quite long. I designed 10 different fonts and then I decided on this one because it was so different.

 

The creative process behind this font: I designed the number 8 first because it’s the number that has the most material to it. So then from the number 8 I was cutting away. “How do you create the most simple number 8?” That’s where I went and then I just cut away and made the rest look similar to the number 8 to make one font. There’s a little bit here or there that you’re changing, but that’s basically it. That’s how I got to those numbers.

 

 

EQ3  Was the mailbox just a natural off-shoot of that, then?

 

VM  The mailbox for me was the logical next step because, again, there are not many mailboxes out there. Especially around here…if you find a nicer mailbox, you pay right away 500, 600, 700 dollars for it. And we don’t want that. We want the product that is still medium price but that looks good. It was a natural step. The concept of 2213 is actually to start with the first thing you’re looking at – that was the house number. If you want to visit someone, what you’re looking for is the house number. So that was the first thing. The next thing was the mailbox.

 

 

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EQ3  Any role models or mentors that you could name, or peoples’ work who inspire you?

 

VM  People that inspire me – there are always people…like Steve Jobs, obviously. He had a few things that really inspire me. Like Apple – the product itself inspires me. It’s very minimal. It just functions. It just works. That’s what I want from a product.

 

And, there are a few architects out there that inspired me in the past…that I liked the work of them. There are a bunch of Japanese accessories that really got my attention. But I don’t really have a role model.

 

 

EQ3  Stepping aside from work, when you’re not working what could we typically find you doing?

 

VM  I’m always working. I am married, so I try to spend as much time with my wife as possible, otherwise I get in trouble. But that is basically it. I mean I like to be in nature. I personally think that it’s beautiful out there so I try to get out from everything material and go back to basics. I love trees, I love sunshine, I love water. If I don’t do that, I read. If I don’t do that, I am working. To be, I think, a creative person you never stop. You always think. Even if you’re not at the office…like I’m not saying I’m 24/7 at the office…but wherever I am, you kind of still think about what’s next.

 

 

EQ3  So seeing as you’re always working, what are your 3 must-have tools for living and working…things that you can’t work/live without?

 

VM  My iPhone. My iPad. My MacBook. I’m drawing on my iPad, I use my iPhone for a lot of things, and my MacBook obviously that is where everything is getting finished up.

 

 

Thanks Valentin for inviting us inside your studio and warehouse.

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