An Interview With Jamie Wolfond Of Jamie Wolfond Studio

Zoom is a nifty communication platform of choice during a pandemic when I recently had the opportunity to chat with Jamie Wolfond of Toronto-based Jamie Wolfond Studio.

Jamie Wolfond Studio designs furniture, lighting, and everyday tools for private clients and consumer brands, including commercial and residential spaces. However, *spoiler alert* like many other creatives out there navigating periods of lockdown, Jamie has taken advantage of the time afforded by the pandemic to begin a new hobby, basket weaving, which has never looked cooler than now!

Let’s jump in and hear what he has to say about his multiple ongoing projects!

 


Photo courtesy of Jamie Wolfond Studio

 

Sarah Wright: What’s your background, and what inspired you to get into your field?

Jamie Wolfond: I wanted to be a furniture designer since I was 12 or 13. My dad got me a jigsaw, and I would cut things up and screw them together. What attracted me to furniture design was about making something that could impact someone else, something that someone else could use or have a relationship with. I’m sure I wouldn’t have explained it this way then. Looking back, there was something exciting, not just about making furniture and having it but making furniture and having someone else react to it.

 

SW: What’s one of the projects you’re working on right now in Canada that excites you?

JW: The weird thing about talking about what I’m working on right now is [that] it’s not always kosher in the industry to say who for. I’m working on some lamps. I’m just looking at a model right now, which turned out to be not exactly the right scale on the day before the presentation. I’m trying to decide if I leave it or cut it up. I need to ask this question to other people before I dig my knife in.

 

SW: What trends or changes do you see coming in your industry which you like, or don’t like?

JW: Right now, it’s anyone’s guess what’s going to happen in the industry. We’re generally on a slow enough cycle that it will be a few years before seeing the impact of COVID on a brand’s productivity. It is not even just productivity, but the quality of the products they release because the type of projects we work on for clients usually take from 2-4 years to reach the market. As a studio that is not centered around making things more useful than their previous counterparts, it’s a little harder to see where we fit in. I think what we do still fills a need, just not that kind of need. It’s almost like asking what will the place of art be in people’s lives.

 


Photo courtesy of Jamie Wolfond Studio

 

SW: How do you – or what do you do – to find your creative inspiration‎ today?

JW: It’s hard to find when you’re hunting for it. There are some days [I get inspired by] something beautiful in a street vent or how a piece of metal tube is squished to accommodate a flat screw or another often-overlooked industrial detail. I don’t want to be too corny about it. It’s just really easy to find inspiration when you’re busy or have to do something else, or bored. I had the best time ever with 50 ‘sign here’ labels that came with the refiling of 4 years worth of tax documents, and I’ve never been so compelled to play with something in my life. I think in general I don’t look at other designers’ work for inspiration for my own work. I look at things that come from a visual culture (that comes from outside the industry) because I think it becomes easy for designers to regurgitate each other’s work.
SW: What is your favourite – or most compelling – ‎example of Canadian houseporn?

JW: That’s a good question. I’m going to go with what would appeal to me in Canada in terms of the housing industry, which would be affordable housing in Toronto.

 

SW: Why is design a powerful tool for helping people survive/thrive in times of challenge?

I don’t think it always is. I believe design to a large extent helps underpin capitalism. I think there are some subtle things to gain from society having a better collective understanding of the culture of craft. The way we waste in North America is different from the way people waste in Europe because the craft culture teaches respect for materials that we don’t necessarily have. By making objects that are somewhat transparent or are self-referential in terms of having a conversation about how they are made, you kind of bring consumers into the story. But I can’t pretend that some of the challenges of capitalism don’t dwarf that benefit. This part of the design industry is good for the world because it forces a conversation about how things could be better. That’s why it’s reassuring to know that even companies like Microsoft and Nike look to designers in a much smaller community to lead. But we still have a long way to go.

 


Photo courtesy of Jamie Wolfond Studio

 

SW: Do you have any tips for creatives on how to stay inspired at home?

JW: I started weaving, and I started an Instagram weaving club called basket club! We put together a group of 27 designers who weave a basket every week based on a brief, and the brief is usually an emoji. Weaving in general has been a great outlet to work with a resource that’s not finite. Things like that are both particularly handy during the pandemic and in general. A good thing for designers to keep in mind is that to develop something you really don’t need someone else necessarily, and the more freedom a process gives you to fail, the better the results will be.

 


Photo courtesy of Jamie Wolfond Studio

SW: What are the essentials for a fantastic Work From Home (WFH) space?

JW: I think that’s something super individual. The job that you’re doing from home is pretty significant. Our studio is in my garage, and I think that’s an ideal WFH space or work near home space.  I think having a tidy space is important. I like working in a space with light.

 

What a great interview – Thank you, Jamie Wolfond! I also believe that it’s so important as a creative to remember to look up from your phone for inspiration because the most exciting details of life are the ones you almost missed.

You can learn more about Jamie’s designs and recent projects by visiting Jamie Wolfond Studio. Or get the latest and greatest in internationally designed baskets at @_basketclub_

 

For more great articles about Canadian Furniture Designers, click on the following links for more from our website, canadianrealestatehousingandhome.ca:

Rethinking Plywood: Cheap Alternative Or Luxury Material? By Toronto’s MSK Design

Vancouver’s Red Star Furniture Designs By James Esworthy

Redefining Furniture With Toronto’s Gil Avivi

Heidi Earnshaw Wood Furniture, Toronto

Brothers Dressler the Toronto Design Duo

Sustainable Products By Studio50 In Paris, Ontario

The 49th North Lounge Chair Designed By Kenny Nguyen And Ian Buckley

Vaste Furniture In Montreal, Quebec

The Woodshop On Fogo Island, Newfoundland

Toronto’s ‘Hi Thanks Bye’ Studio Reinvents The Chinese Garden

Christopher Solar Design In Ottawa, Ontario

Sustainable Home Furnishings By Forever Interiors In Toronto

Vancouver’s MTH Woodworks Brings The Great Canadian Outdoors Inside

Vancouver’s Knauf and Brown And Toronto’s Tom Chung at Greenhouse

 

Researched and written by Sarah Wright, freelance writer, and aspiring basket weaver.

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