Meet Thom: An Interview with EQ3 Creative Director

Feb 12, 2017

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Tell us about your background

Hi. I grew up in Regina and moved to Winnipeg to study architecture at the University of Manitoba when I was 18. While I was in architecture school I experimented with everything but architecture. I was really into medium format photography for years up until recently – it’s become cost-prohibitive to shoot with. I also found I was attracted to a much smaller scale of design than architecture – products, furniture, and graphic design. Luckily the program and my instructors at the time allowed me to do my thing. I guess I continued that interdisciplinary spirit after graduating and through my work at EQ3.


How do you define a normal work day?

At any given time I’m working in a variety of mediums at different scales, with long and short term deadlines. A normal work day used to feel chaotic but I’ve learned to embrace that kind of working atmosphere.




Apart from the ability to continue to work at a variety of scales, what drew you to EQ3?

Initially I was attracted to EQ3’s potential and what it stood for. There aren’t many or any companies that exist and operate like EQ3. The vision of bringing modern furniture to the masses, and making it attainable for the average consumer – this aligned nicely with my perspective on design. The fact that it’s a Canadian-run business, and one that really celebrates and attempts to investigate Canadianess was another trait I was attracted to, and still am. EQ3 doesn’t shy away from its Canadian roots.




You have been Creative Director for EQ3 for five years now, how has what EQ3 represents evolved over time?

Well, EQ3’s original mandate, envisioned by it’s founder Peter Tielmann, still remains intact. As I mentioned, EQ3 doesn’t shy away from its Canadian roots, despite the public’s infatuation with the perceived exotic nature of European brands. Beyond that, maintaining EQ3’s design and innovative nature has been an important aspect of the business, and it continues to evolve. The customer experience of the brand has evolved quite a bit within the past six years. Physically the product line has changed completely, but the products all embody the original spirit behind EQ3. I believe EQ3 is more current, timeless, and accessible than ever.


What’s your favourite project you’ve worked on or designed for EQ3?

The newest projects are always my favourite. I really enjoyed designing the Tambour Collection, the EQ3 store in San Francisco, working with the graphic design, marketing, and interior design team on bringing the EQ3 Assembly capsule collection to life.

There was a photoshoot for the 2015 catalogue we shot entirely within a lakehouse in Lake of the Woods, Ontario. We all hung out there for a couple weeks setting up rooms, and photographing them, eating really well. There are a few projects we are working on at the moment that I’m pretty excited about that should be completed by 2017.



The Tambour Collection



The Tambour Collection


As creative director, you set the direction for each product line. How do you develop this schematic?

I make it really personal. It’s hard to make a meaningful statement without a distinct personal perspective. I’m always researching a variety of topics at any given time. I’ll have stacks of books on very broad or specific subjects that may relate to art, design, or culture. It sometimes becomes a little obsessive. Depending on where those topics lead, I allow them to inform the creative direction for EQ3. It becomes really interesting because those broad influences are interpreted by the EQ3 design team, and we come together again and develop something stronger.

We attempt to make timeless products at EQ3, and not bend and sway with the fashion of the time. In the same breath, EQ3 doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and is a part of the world. So there is an element of acknowledging and understanding larger trends in the market, but balancing that off with producing product that is distinctly EQ3. There’s a lot of nuance to it.




How do you bridge the gap between trend and timeless?

Really, style and taste come down to personal preference. Trend can be great and give people the confidence they need to take a risk, whether in fashion or interior design. However, when you have decorators or the media telling you what is “in” and isn’t, it can seem like there are a set of rules hidden from the public that only designers are aware of. It becomes exclusionary and intimidating – which modern furniture is guilty of.

I’m all about empowering people to make their own design or decorating decisions, really personalizing their home. There are no hidden set of rules that say you can’t mix wood tones, or wear stripes with plaid (is that a thing?). I can go on and on about this, but I find that the interior environments that really resonate with people are the spaces that are personally intimate in nature.




How do you define timeless design, is it possible? 

Timelessness is definitely a quality I chase through my work. I’m not sure how possible a true timeless design is, as everything tends to go in out of style eventually. Society changes, tastes change. It seems like work with any sort of longevity tends to remain honest, functional, and beautiful once it’s distilled down to its essence.


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