We are sponsoring the Maker section of the upcoming 2019 IDS Toronto show in January, a part of the show that showcases designers, makers and brands who are designing and making work from honest materials with soul and passion. The Maker section is a great opportunity for these smaller businesses and we are so grateful to be part of the curation process. We’re talking to two designer/makers from Maker to give you a taste of what you’re going to be seeing in January—the first one is Div.12, and we spoke to owner Geof Lilge:
How did you get into design and making?
I spent a good chunk of my childhood on a commune which was full of craftspeople – my mother was a woodworker and her girlfriend was a potter… So I was exposed to making, craft shows and studios early on (as well as every other insane thing that happens on a hippie commune in the seventies…).
At the end of design school, my mother gave me a bunch of her shop tools so I helped start a co-op shop where a group of my classmates and myself could keep on building furniture after school was done. We all dove into building furniture and accessories and quickly discovered accessories sold really well. Once you start selling, you get hooked on making your own work.
How did you get started working with metal? What about the material interests you?
I started working with metal because it was affordable, but found I was able to bend and form it quickly which is great for producing runs of designs. I like the immediacy of steel tube, it doesn’t take long to go from sketch to full-scale mockup.
How long has your design studio been in business and how has it changed over time?
I founded Div.12 in 2017 after finding a shuttered steel chair factory, which was sitting fully equipped with custom tube chair fabrication equipment and tooling. It was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up, so I decided to buy the shop and develop a new collection and launch a new brand.
How many people work with you at Div.12?
Today there are 7 of us, including a new business partner, Mark Robertson, an industrial designer / cabinetmaker.
As a small business owner, what are some of the challenges that you face?
Our biggest challenge is our location, Edmonton is way up north and a full travel day away from major cities.
You say your products are hand-crafted. What kinds of techniques are you employing in building each piece and are you using any modern technologies?
Our numerically controlled tube bender is as high tech as we get, and it takes a skilled hand to run it well. The welding and finishing are all done by hand, lately I have been using laser cut steel components to minimize visible welds and finishing labor. Our wood seats are all CNC cut and hand finished.
What is the most challenging piece of furniture you’ve ever made and why was it so?
At IDS we are launching a new collection designed by Lukas Peet which features a wire grid and tube frame. It has been almost a year in development but it finally turned out quite well, we’re looking forward to getting it out there.
What piece will you be bringing to IDS Toronto in January?
We’ll be launching new seating collections from several Canadian designers, including Zoë Mowat, Lukas Peet, Knauf & Brown and Thom Fougere. Our aim is to produce a collection of really good design objects. Collaborating challenges us as a company, pushes us towards different processes and I hope delivers a diverse collection.
What’s unique/interesting/different about Canadian design? In other words, what makes Canadian design, Canadian? :)
What I see different is that Canadian design is reaching farther than I can ever remember. There are more Canadians designing for global brands than ever, and more Canadian design companies are distributing globally. There simply is more good Canadian design out in the world right now, which is great to see.
Visit Div.12 at division12.ca and at IDS Toronto’s Maker area in January.