The Straight Line Designs workshop in Vancouver is full of whimsy; we envision their studio bookshelves lined with Dr. Seuss and colorful children's books to release the imagination. Creating custom furniture pieces that function equally as working furniture as they do decorative sculptures, the nine person studio has embraced the playful possibilities of furniture design. We have the lead designer Judson Beaumont of Straight Line Designs with us today to discuss the ideas and process behind his furniture pieces.
gpidesign: What is your general design philosophy? What do you believe is a good furniture design?
Judson Beaumont: Be different. You have to differentiate yourself enough to be able to compete in the design and manufacturing industry these days. There is always someone out there who can do it faster and cheaper, so you have to figure out how to do something nobody else is doing. A good design is one that sets itself apart from others. A design that challenges the norms of modern design and is still able to achieve a great level of functionality is a successful design.
"The Apple Cabinet"
gpidesign: Your designs are fun, creative, and different. What’s your secret to keeping thinking out of the box?
Beaumont: The secret to our design process is to challenge ourselves as designer and as builders. We strive to design pieces that, while they might look interesting on paper, they are actually quite complicated to materialize into fully functional pieces of furniture.
"Tear Away Bench"
gpi design: Take "Tear Away Bench" for example, could you elaborate on what your design inspiration is and what the typical design process is like?
Beaumont: The tear away bench was to create a sense of discovery in the user. With traditional wood benches, you accept that it has a flat top, flat sides, legs, etc. The Tear Away Bench is the answer to our question “What is actually underneath these solid, rigid surfaces?”. It is not exactly a correct answer, it is more about the discovery of other possibilities that lie under the surface.
gpi design: Your bio expresses that your rule is: “if you can draw and design it, you can build it.” It seems to be quite a bold statement. Have you ever designed something that is technically impossible to build? Take Squiddy for example, how did you balance between aesthetic and functionality?
Beaumont: That rule still stands true for us to this day. We always try to maintain that old “sky is the limit” methodology that designers use in our fabrication methods. Although something might seem quite simple once you see the final product, the process used to create this final piece may include countless hours of testing and tweaking which actually give it more value. If your design can’t be produced by someone else, you maintain your unique place in the market.
With Squiddy, we sought to give a solid material, Alder wood, a life of its own that seemed other-worldly. Each Squiddy is thought to be an individual creature that only sits still long enough for the user to exit the room, after which it is free to roam around and explore.
Each leg is hand shaped from a solid 2”x2” piece of Alder and finished with a low-gloss clear coating.
gpi design: If you were given the chance to incorporate lighting into one of your furniture pieces, which one would it be and what would the design look like?
Beaumont: We would be interested in incorporating lighting into our Cracked Cabinet. We are thinking maybe the inside surfaces of the cracked area can be illuminated behind opaque white plastic as if the light is coming from within.