Entries Tagged as 'Interview'

Krisjanis Kaktins-Gorsline

Oct 25, 2014

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Krisjanis Kaktins-Gorsline is an artist living and working in Winnipeg MB.  He paints wonderfully layered, complex paintings.  His work is the kind that gives a lot.

 

He studied fine arts at the University of MB and went on to do his MFA at Columbia (graduating in 2008).  He has painted for most of his life. Since his first solo show in 2006 he has shown works across North America - most recently at Actual Gallery in Winnipeg MB.

 

This most recent show, aptly titled Fruit on Black, was an overwhelming representation of his work.  The show featured a pseudo-sculptural component, walls stenciled on site and an interactive QR code that led to a beautiful image of Martha, the world’s last passenger pigeon that was hidden in the basement of the gallery.  This decisive randomness was grounded by solid, beautiful paintings.

 

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Fruit on Black confirmed my preconceived notion that Kaktins-Gorsline’s paintings are amoung some of the best AND most interesting being created today.

 

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In addition to the sparkly resume and insane talent, Kaktins-Gorsline is also a really nice and funny guy who is one of the best people to talk to at a party.   Examples of said funny-ness can be seen below as responses to questions I recently asked…

 

Madi – Where did you grow up?
Krisjanis - I was born in Winnipeg but moved to Brandon when I was about 6 or 7. We lived in the North End of Winnipeg but our particular area was on the decline.  I think my mom wanted to live in a safer place while we were growing up so we moved to Brandon.  With the exception of one year spent in Halifax, I lived there until I came back to Winnipeg for University in 2001.

 

M – Where is home // how do you define home –physical space or a feeling?
K – I’m not sure that I’ve ever really tried to define home per se. I think it ends up being a bit of both.  It seems like the two kind of map onto each other. If you spend a certain amount of time someplace you are bound to have feelings for it.  At this point I’ve lived in Winnipeg so long that it just feels like its in my bones.

 

M – Describe your work
K – Sweet sweet paintings.

 

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M – Over the years that you’ve been focused on creating, what have been your biggest influences?
K – Oh there are so many at this point.  And they are always changing. I’ve never had an “art hero” really.  I just end up stealing little bits and bobs from all over the place and then somehow they synthesize into what I make.  Honestly the only constant thing I could really point to would be nature, but that just seems like a given.  You’d have to be a real jerk not to be inspired by nature.

 

M – How do you envision people will interact with your work? Perceive it?  // or do you want to control their perceptions?  Has the desire to control/shape perceptions changed over time or stayed consistent?
K – I’m not really interested in controlling people’s perceptions per se.  I just think about my own perception and trust that there will be people who might share that perception.  But often other people’s takes on the work are just as interesting as anything I might have intended.  I think that the real art of artworks sort of hovers somewhere between the work and the person looking at it.  The objects are really just there as a prompts for thought, so the viewer is the one who completes the work really.  Its more of a co-production.

 

M – I know you live in Winnipeg now – how does this place affect your work? Or does it?
K – … I often think about this, but have never come up with a great answer.  I’m not sure that my work really has that kind of direct relationship to the city right now.  Some of the earlier work was directly about the history of the city but most of the recent work would just have a more ambient relationship.  I’m sure that so many years of winters here must have left some kind of traumatic trace on my work.

 

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M – I wonder if it has become taboo to think of Winnipeg as just a place to live, we’re always encouraged to point out the idiosyncrasies of this place as some sort of a justification for being here.  Do you feel that way? And/or do you feel that there is something truly special about the city?
K – A lot of cities deal with this sort of thing. There is always a tension between the local and the global. Local idiosyncrasies are what makes a place interesting and unique but that can also slip into a kind of myopic provincialism. But there is a flip side to that where a lot of what is imported is a kind of generic globalism, so people feel like Winnipeg is cosmopolitan because we have an H&M at the mall or whatever. I think real cosmopolitanism has something to do with being able to see the unique differences in a specific place but also being able to think about them in relation to a larger global sphere.  I think the environmental movement really nails it when they say “act locally, think globally”.  There is tons of amazing culture in Winnipeg, but often Winnipeg is the last to recognize it.

 

M – How does teaching affect your work? 
K – I really like teaching.  Teaching makes me have to constantly reconsider what art is and how its made.  I try to approach teaching in a more symmetrical way, so that the students are defining the direction of their work as much as I am. For me, the ideal classroom is a space of experimentation and investigation where everyone, including me, is exploring the possibilities of what art is, rather than just reproducing the conventions of art.  I think this is the real potential of education.  Otherwise it just becomes a space of indoctrination rather than innovation.  The students are so smart and talented that my job is really more about facilitating the space for them to take responsibility for their work and develop their practices.  The up shot of this is that often I am learning as much as the students are.

 

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M – I find process-based questions to be super hard to answer because often times when I am designing something everything happens really fast and my “process” changes.  That being said, please humour me, and describe your process if you can…
K – I’ve never really thought of myself as having a signature process. Actually I would say that my work ends up largely being about designing a certain process for making a body of work just to undermine it with the next body of work. Often I think I’m trying to torture myself.  It’s just that I’m more interested in creativity than style really.  I’m not that interested in locking down what I do as much as I am figuring out what I could do.  So often it becomes a weird game of getting in my own way and undermining my own habits to keep things interesting.

 

M – Do you need specific working conditions, or are you flexible?  How much energy do you pull from the environment or people around you?
K – I do like to work alone a lot, and that can be really productive, but its also great to have people around.  I think the studios I’m in now are perfect because I can work alone when I want but if I’m bored I can walk down the hall and bug someone. More and more lately I’ve been interested in working on collaborative projects with other people just to mix things up.  It starts to feel pretty anti-social being alone in a studio all the time.  Often you can end up feeling like a shady vampire type. Working on this new show I was able to hire friends to work with me in the studio so it was actually quite lively.  I had a friend do a couple of DJ sets while we worked.  That was pretty great! Any working condition is improved by judicious cuts of Todd Terje and Floating Points.

 

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M – Your show at Actual gallery (which was AMAZING) just came down.  How did it feel showing in Winnipeg (where you currently live)?  Did you feel differently than you do when your work is shown in other cities? 
K – This show was actually the first solo show I’ve ever had in Winnipeg. Showing in Winnipeg was quite different.  More nerve racking. Usually I just go to another city for a week, stay in a hotel and then leave soon after the opening happens.  Its often a whirlwind of meeting new people, setting up, going out, etc, and then I split. Showing in Winnipeg actually felt a lot more like having a show for my family or something.  I mean, my family literally went, but I also basically know most people in the art scene here so it’s really just a bunch of friends at the show. But somehow that actually made me more nervous.

 

M – What is your typical email send off?
K – I think for the last while I’ve been in a bit of an email send off crisis. It’s good to have a go to email send off, but it can seem a little insincere. Unless your send off is “Sincerely…”, I guess.  Best! All the best! Cheers! Adios! Toot-a-loo! xoxo! Whatever.

 

Our Hands–Theresita

Oct 21, 2014

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Our Hands will be a recurring series of hand portraits and questions with the intention of illustrating the people that help build our products. Furthermore, this body of work is quite personal. It embodies properties that I speak about in my own art practice which are about the new immigrant experience and their adaptation to life in Winnipeg. Currently my focus is on the wave of tailors and seamstresses that came to work in Winnipeg’s flourishing garment industry in the late 1960′s and early 70′s.

 

Theresita

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5 Questions with Theresita

 

Charles – How long have you been a seamstress?

Theresita – I have been a seamstress for 14 years.

C – What is your job title?

T – Sewing machine operator.

C – In 5 words or less describe what you do with your hands all day?

T – Sew and hold fabric.

C – What makes your hands unique?

T – My manicure.

C – Would you change anything about your hands?

T – Nothing.

C – What is your favourite thing to hold.

T – My face.

10 Questions with Arren Williams

Aug 14, 2014

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Here at EQ3, we’ve decided to change it up! Each new interview will pose questions which we hope reveal something interesting or quirky about someone we admire. This month we’re featuring Arren Williams, the Creative Director, Home at Hudson’s Bay. (You can also shop EQ3 galleries at The Bay!) We’re aiming to inspire whether that takes form through food, books, travel, etc.. Questions and answers will be kept brief and each new interview will include a photograph taken by our feature someone!

 

View from Arren's desk, including a fresh espresso!

View from Arren’s desk, including a fresh espresso!

 

EQ3  What is your current obsession?

 

ARREN WILLIAMS  I live my life constantly design obsessed, but right now I’m very into craft beer, and always enjoy hunting down a local brew whenever I travel.

 

 

EQ3  What has been your drink of choice this summer?

 

AW  Other than beer, I have a bit of a thing for ice cold dry rosé.

 

 

EQ3  What was the last meal that wowed you?

 

AW  Açorda de Marisco, eaten in a little dockside restaurant in Olhão, southern Portugal. It’s a seafood stew made with bread, and it totally blew my socks off.

 

 

EQ3  In your opinion, what is the most essential coffee table book?

 

AW  I have a vintage Terence Conran ‘The House Book’ from 1974 that came off of a very stylish aunt’s bookshelf. That’s definitely a favourite.

 

 

EQ3  One lesson that changed your outlook on design?

 

AW  Stopping worrying about what other people will think.

 

 

EQ3  A room is never complete without ____________?

 

AW  In my case, a black and white Whippet named Spot.

 

 

EQ3  If you could only see the world in three colours, what three colours would they be and why?

 

AW  That is possibly the most bizarre question I have ever been asked. To be honest, I never limit myself when it comes to colour!

 

 

EQ3  Name the most inspirational place you’ve ever travelled to or would like to travel to.

 

AW  India. I’ve been a couple of times for work, but would love the chance to travel around the country.

 

 

EQ3  What is the most played song in your music library?

 

AW  We actually have a record player at home, so the other day Haircut One Hundred’s album, Pelican West, was on repeat. It took me back to my, ahem, younger days…

 

 

EQ3  What is THE conversation piece in your own home?

 

AW  It’s probably a toss-up between a vintage clown painting on our gallery wall and our rather obnoxiously loud, and heavily patterned, sofa.

 

 

Interview: Sam Grawe from Herman Miller

Jun 23, 2014

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We’ve referenced WHY, Herman Miller’s online essay series, a number of times on the blog. Through a collection of stories, interviews and videos, the essay series invites readers to discover why Herman Miller does what they do. Herman Miller has managed to make WHY playful, yet meaty - publishing a 4,000 word essay that doesn’t feel daunting, and a 108 second video that covers 108 years of design history.

 

Curious about the work that goes into developing these stories, we interviewed Sam Grawe, Editorial Director at Herman Miller, and the man behind the WHY series. Grawe has been interested in design since a young boy. In college, he studied art and architectural history, and it was there that he learned about 20th century design. Grawe went on to be the Editor-in-Chief of the popular architecture publication Dwell Magazine. After 11 years with the magazine, Grawe began working for Herman Miller, first as a consultant, and then as the full-time Editorial Director.

 

It comes as no surprise that he’s a modernist at heart, with Eames, Nelson and Girard topping his list of personal design heroes.

 

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Cover designs of Herman Miller’s WHY publication (print)

 

EQ3  What prompted you to move from consulting to working full-time with Herman Miller?

 

SAM GRAWE  There are very few truly design driven companies in the world, no less the United States, and Herman Miller has one of the most storied histories of design with Nelson, Eames, and Girard. All are longstanding personal heroes of mine, especially Nelson and Girard, with Nelson having been a magazine editor prior to being a furniture designer and working as the Creative Director at Herman Miller. I think it was the opportunity to work with such an incredible legacy, and to think about how to communicate that today.

 

In addition to that, just being a part of an organization that is really dedicated to problem solving design, and what that means in the 21st Century and moving forward.

 

 

EQ3  Have you always had an interest in design? Do you have a specific background in it, or is it something that has just come naturally to you?

 

SG  Actually, if I go back to my youth, I think I was pretty obsessed with Lego. Whether it was my parents telling me, or whether it was myself learning about it, I always thought I was going to be an architect. I studied architecture and architectural history, and I ended up ultimately studying art history. But, as I was studying art history, I got a little bit of 20th Century design history too.

 

Then I moved to the Bay Area in the late 90s and I became more and more interested in industrial design and furniture design. I knew that I wanted to work somehow in design. I was thinking at that time that I would go back to school for a design degree, but I ended up working for a guy named Bruce Burdick, who actually did the Burdick Table for Herman Miller in the early 80s. I worked for Bruce for probably 2 years in San Francisco, and then I started at Dwell (Magazine) in 2000, right after the first issue had been published.

 

Obviously, I had an amazing education at Dwell – eleven years there – and great exposure to contemporary architecture and to contemporary design. I had the opportunity to meet so many people and be exposed to so much. That was one of the great pleasures of that job.

 

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The Living Office is Herman Miller’s framework for understanding the future of office design.

 

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EQ3  Now, in your role at Herman Miller, what does a typical day look like for you as the Editorial Director.

 

SG  I don’t know if there is a typical day, but I am involved in a lot of different projects. I am in charge of all of the writing, but I am also in charge of my own editorial projects.

 

I also work really heavily with the brand design team that consists of all of the designers internally doing our spaces, our graphics and our digital work. “How are we conveying the messages that Herman Miller should be conveying? And, what medium are we going to use to convey it best?” And then, “How are we going to bring it to life?”

 

I’ve also been really heavily involved in the core team that has put together Living Office, which is the framework for Herman Miller’s understanding of the future of office design and work. I think anyone would tell you, at Herman Miller, that we’re kind of a meeting-based culture. There are a lot of cross-functional teams, and things happen in a pretty organic way amongst those teams.

 

 

EQ3  You mentioned about the variety of mediums that you work with. Is there a particular medium that you find most gratifying to work with?

 

SG  I think there is something, ultimately, always satisfying about print. It’s sort of finite. You can hold it in your hands, and it’s an object. Once you’re done, it’s done.

 

On the other hand, right now I have sort of an unabashed love for Instagram. I think Instagram is, for me, probably the most satisfying of social media, from both from a personal standpoint and I think we’ve been having a lot of fun with the Herman Miller Instagram account, as well. But it’s just because it’s visual, and in a way it feels less promotional than some other formats.

 

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“Alexander Girard: An Uncommon Vision” pop up celebrating first archival re-introductions of Girard’s furniture and screen printed fabric panels (New York Design Week, May 2014)

 

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EQ3  Do any particular projects, then, standout in your mind as a favourite?

 

SG  I’d have to say the recent work that we did with the pop-up showcase for Alexander Girard in New York.

 

I’ve always had a supreme passion for Alexander Girard, since a friend of mine introduced me, in probably 2001, to his work. It was less known than Nelson and Eames, at that time. In a lot of ways, his work was more ephemeral. He did textiles, and he did restaurant interiors and office interiors. Those are the kind of things that get changed or go away. I think, also, he did so much work that until you start digging, you don’t really realize that he was such a polymath and really did do everything. But when you start to discover his world, it’s just kind of amazing. It’s this endless trove of treasure.

 

In some ways it’s unfair to just put a table by him into the world, especially to a world that doesn’t know him as well as Eames or Nelson, without giving more context to what he accomplished in his lifetime.

 

 

EQ3  We’ve talked about the WHY series a fair bit on our blog and we really love it! We’re curious how this particular essay series developed because it’s a slightly different twist on a blog.

 

SG  My colleagues Steve Frykholmand Clark Malcom did a magazine called “See” in the mid 2000s, which was this beautiful high production value magazine that I think they did a total of 6 issues for, back in the day. They were just re-launching a new magazine called WHY, and that was one of the first projects that I worked on. We’ve done 3 print issues of WHY.

 

The idea is “Why does Herman Miller do the things that we do?” If there’s not a strong why, there’s kind of no point in doing it. And that’s, definitely, very much the ethos of how we approach things at Herman Miller – from our products, to our marketing, to everything. We want stuff to very much have purpose, and WHY is really the mechanism for bringing that conversation to life, whether it’s in print or it’s on social media, or in digital format. We launched last July online and I think we’ve produced something in the order of 35 stories in the last year.

 

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EQ3  Where do the ideas for stories come from? Where do you draw inspiration from?

 

SG  We work in a somewhat programmatic way with the marketing organization, so we base what we are doing on WHY with what the business is doing at the base level.

 

I’ve been able to bring in some great folk – my colleagues Amber Bravo and Everett Pelayo – that have a really good sense for editorial and for how to bring a story to life. Then we’ll take what is happening in the world of Herman Miller and we have editorial meetings. It’s a process almost like at any magazine. You have pitch meetings and you have creative meetings, and you sit around and you shoot around ideas. The one that kind of hits the nail on the head, or gets closest to it, is the one you pursue. But again, it comes back to “What’s the best way to bring this content to life.” We’re not married to any one approach. So sometimes it might be a video, sometimes it might be a photo essay, sometimes it might be a 2000 word interview.

 

 

Image Source: All photographs courtesy of Herman Miller

Interview: Beau Oyler from Urbio

May 28, 2014

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We snuck in a lunch-hour phone interview with Beau Oyler, the co founder and spokesperson for EQ3+ partner Urbio, just before he left for New York’s International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF)! Beau is an industrial designer based in Oakland, California. Together with his business partner Jared Aller, Beau started up Enlisted Design, a classic design agency that develops products for clients, including branding, packaging and industrial design. “It’s a super collaborative approach to design,” says Beau, “where we actually design with our clients here in the studio to create products with them.”

 

Then in 2010, after working on countless projects for other clients, Beau and Jared decided it was time for their studio to design a product of their own. They began brainstorming where there was a need for a well designed product, and what would make an impact in the world, not just in the design community. They came up with Urbio, an award-winning modular wall system that can be used as vertical garden in small urban spaces, as well as for wall organization and storage. Urbio launched in 2010 with a profitable Kickstarter campaign that raised close to $80,000 (one of the highest grossing Kickstarter campaigns in its time), and soon after they received a call from ABC’s Shark Tank inviting them to appear on the show.

 

The show was a huge success, and Urbio has gone on to win major design awards such as the prestigious Red Dot award and International Design Award (IDA).

 

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Portrait of Beau Oyler, Co-founder of Urbio and Principal at Enlisted Design

 

EQ3  How did Urbio come about?

 

BEAU OYLER  I grew up in Carmel, California – it’s just a small town on the coast – and my business partner grew up in the Midwest in Kansas City. So we both grew up in these quaint, suburb type towns where we had a garden and we had a yard. Then we up and move to San Francisco and Oakland and we no longer have space for anything like that and have no access to any types of gardens. I really wanted to re-connect with that idea – the idea of planting something and growing something.

 

So we began to design this modular magnetic wall planter system, where you’re able to take the pots off and water them and put them back on; and, to design it in such a way that every modern home and small space will want this on their wall – not just because it can grow their plants, but because it’s also beautiful.

 

 

EQ3 What are you working on right now / next?

 

BO  We have a bunch of new products that we’re going to be rolling out over the next 12 to 18 months, that are really going to expand the Urbio business. Our new product line, which is Urbio Organize, are very simple, very colourful plastic inserts that slip into existing Urbio posts and are dividers so you can divide mail, cards, pens, pencils, scissors and whatever is cluttering your desk. You are able to get it off your desk and organized within the Urbio system.

 

Because we do so well in the small space market like apartments, flats, and condos, lots of times people are renting and they’re not allowed to screw the plates into the wall. So we created this product called the wall puck. It’s this little powder-coated metal piece that you can screw with one screw into the wall. Or it comes with adhesive and you just peel the adhesive off and you could stick it on your bathroom mirror, you could stick it in a shower, or you could stick it on your wall. The Urbio pot just sticks to the little puck.

 

So it’s very simple, and that’s what all of our product line is going to be. It’s going to be simple products to help us organize in small spaces.

 

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EQ3  It’s obvious that you had a very clear vision from the get go. Did you have any specific inspiration or mentors that lead you in this direction?

 

BO  No, it was all pretty internal. Big companies and small companies come to Enlisted because there is this collaborative magic that we have. We are able to develop products that meet the needs of their consumers. So it really honestly did come from us saying, “we have done this for dozens and dozens and dozens of clients around the world, at what point do we do this for ourselves?” We turned a portion of our efforts from outward and fulfilling our clients’ needs to inward, using the skills that we have and kind of the magic that Enlisted has to design it for ourselves and design it from the ground up. It gave us creative freedom that we generally don’t have with clients, where we own the brand and we make those decisions.

 

 

EQ3  So if this was your first time being the client, what kind of client were you?

 

BO  That is a very good question. Being your own client is challenging. It’s great in some ways, and it’s challenging in some ways. Making the decisions as a team, rather than having the client make the final decision is a challenge because even though the general vision is shared, we have different perspectives on how that’s rolled out.

 

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Jared Aller, Co-founder of Urbio and Principal at Enlisted Design

 

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Christina Rotundo, Senior Graphic Designer

 

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Julian Bagirov, Senior Industrial Designer

 

EQ3  What are some of the most interesting ways people have used Urbio?

 

BO  There is this woman in New York who’s an interior designer, and she does a lot of work for the high-end retailers out there. She is actually amazing and she has used Urbio on drywall, on mirrors and on brick. She’s done a grass wall. Then she’s used the puck system and she’s hidden those into this grass wall, and then the Urbio pots were just used as the face.

 

It’s also really interesting where moms’ will use Urbio at a changing table. Evidently it holds perfectly diapers and wipes, and all those things that you need at a change table.

 

 

EQ3  You’ve had a lot of success in a short amount of time. What would you say has been one of your proudest moments or biggest accomplishments over the last few years?

 

I’m going to portion it into three categories – two of which are business, and one of which is just personal. For me being a product designer and a design entrepreneur, I love seeing products that I helped develop in retail. I love walking into EQ3 and seeing a standalone display of Urbio, or at The Container Store, or wherever.

 

The second one would be media. Shark Tank has been almost a life-changing experience. I say ‘almost’ because obviously getting married and having kids is more important and has been more life-changing, for sure. However, filming that show was very cool. My business partner and I have never been so much in sync as we were on the set that day. And just to be on the show where for four years I sat almost every Friday night and watched that show, and thought to myself one day I am going to be on the show.

 

And then third, just to get a little more local, is when friends text pictures of “hey I was helping my girlfriend unload the back of her car and check out what was in there.” And it’s the Big Happy Family. And they had no idea, they just saw it and loved it. Or friends who texted me in New York and said “hey check it out. I just walked into my friends flat and this was on the ground.” And it was the Urbio box that had just been delivered. Those are big wins! I’m still waiting for the big win for Michelle Obama to ask us to come and sell Urbio at the White House so she can grow an indoor wall garden!

 

 

Visit myurbio.com to learn more about Urbio product line. Also, follow the Urbio Facebook Page and @myurbio on Twitter and Instagram to see how others are using the products!

 

Image source: All photographs credited to Urbio

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