At the 2018 IDS Toronto in January, we will again be sponsoring their Maker section, which helps give a platform to designers, makers and brands who are innovating, making a difference or creating design that betters our lives. The Maker section is perfect for businesses that have manufacturing capabilities, and are looking to expand distribution, and we are lucky to be part of the process of choosing them. We talked to Jean-François Bussière of Atelier Bussière:
How did you get into design and making?
Atelier Bussière has existed since 2010. Until 2016, with a team of 25 employees, we were manufacturing granite, marble and quartz countertops. Since we started manufacturing countertops in 2010, I always wanted to create and manufacture different objects and furniture with the stone slabs leftover that we were not able to reuse to manufacture into countertops. I could not accomplish this dream to create stone furniture and objects because we were extremely busy making the countertops that we were selling at that time. Last year, one of our competitors made us an offer to buy our list of employees, our list of clients, our order book and our slabs inventory. When the transaction was completed, I found myself alone with a workshop, different equipment to transform stone, tons of slabs leftover and this unique opportunity to start a new business where I can finally create what I always dreamed of: granite and marble objects and furniture!
How long has your design studio been in business and how has it changed over time?
Since the summer of 2016, I have been working on this wonderful project to transform Atelier Bussiere into a business that designs and creates cool and unique things with stone.
How many people work with you at Atelier Bussiere?
We are a small, amazing team of three, including myself.
As a small business owner, what are some of the challenges that you face?
My biggest challenge is on the sales side and recognition. It’s a second start for Atelier Bussière, so everything is new for me: new industry, new products, and new clients. My challenge is to let people know that we exist, and that we have some amazing products to propose! That’s the main reason why I am going to be in Toronto in January.
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?
Some products are manufactured with the help of a CNC that we own. But other products are 100% handmade. Mainly, we cut and polish the stone and we also glue stone pieces together to create, for example, the BOX table. We use a mix of technology and traditional techniques and tools to create our different design products.
How has modern technology (if at all) helped your business – either for manufacturing and/or marketing?
We have a CNC, so this piece of equipment gives us a huge capacity of production and helps us to cut stone in different shapes that we couldn’t do by hand. Efficacy, precisions and speed are what modern technology has brought to my business.
You work with many materials… What is your favorite material to work with?
Marble and granite, obviously! Like the uniqueness of each piece of stone that we cut in the workshop, every piece that we create is unique because every stone is unique.
What is the most challenging piece of furniture you’ve ever made and why was it so?
I always try to make a simple design that puts the beauty of stone first. There is no specific piece that comes to mind where I told myself: “no, I am not gonna be able to do it!” I think because I am new in the furniture business, I like to start with simple design and leave the spotlight on the stone. In the future I plan to be more ambitious and take more risks design-wise.
People are more and more interested to buy local, buy something meaningful and unique to live an experience; that’s what design can fulfill.
What piece will you be bringing to IDS Toronto in January?
The BOX table—the top of the table stand on four simple black metal legs and the top of the table is a box made of marble or granite. What I like about this piece is the stone looks light! Also, I’ll be bringing a few other pieces from my collection, specially different kind of tables.
What’s unique/interesting/different about Canadian design? In other words, what makes Canadian design, Canadian?
From my humble point of view, Canadian design is not well known yet. But things change. People are more and more interested to buy local, buy something meaningful and unique to live an experience; that’s what design can fulfill. I think more Canadians appreciate the originality, the functionality, the innovation and the quality of Canadian design and that’s good news for all of us, because we create and fabricate some amazing Canadian furniture!