Wow, Evan Bare is on a roll. His work is getting picked up for production and promotion by one of Canada’s premier design brands, he is launching a collaborative furniture line, is pushing a consulting group to help others get their work into production, and is finding time to produce micro architecture and boutique products from his Ontario shop and studio 608 Design. We got the chance to record this interview last week.

Tell us about your design process…how do you make things? My design process can start with either a client’s idea or a desire to produce something personal. I find connection with contemporary transitional forms and to create something people will be comfortable placing in their homes. Nostalgia and comfort play a big part in shaping my ideas but ergonomics and sustainable thinking typically rule the end result. I start with a sketch or even a 3D model with specific proportions to sketch from. It is a fairly rigid process, as I always find myself playing the part of both designer and engineer, and I like that full control.

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What do you think is making Canadian design successful now, what are the advantages and disadvantages of practicing here? I think Canadian design is becoming successful because of the resilience and determination of independent designers. It would be difficult to comment on design in Canada as a whole but from my experience in product design, we have some extremely skilled designers who promote their new ideas at any cost each year.  A positive sign is that an increasing amount of shops, corporations, trade shows, and media are turning their attention domestically, which is creating good opportunities for designers. Businesses need to focus more on this process and adapt the strengths of working collaborations for the benefit of designers creating meaningful new work.

I see Canadian designers struggling with the brand of their work, which impacts pricing. Why do people pay $20,000 for an Italian sofa?  People who have $20,000 for an Italian sofa are demographically separated from the Canadian design buyer in my mind. Those are apples and oranges. You could argue that the Canadian design identity is constantly evolving while Italian design has a long standing reputation associated with it.

While working in the manufacturing industry, I’ve been told of the “good ol days” when people had that kind of money. Those days are gone and we’re faced with a completely different set of rules. Some Canadian designers have equipped themselves with the means to produce high quality goods at reasonable prices by incorporating CNC technology into their process. B to C sales strategies work with social media to provide a platform for consumers to learn about their product’s maker thus creating a connection and confidence. Canadian designers/companies definitely need to embrace new tools.bunkie_sedan_sm

Your work seems well designed, not just pretty. What is your philosophy, and do you think that design can change the world? Absolutely design has the power to change the world and the maker movement feels like the beginning. I come from a mindset that utility is a starting point for design. There really is no reason to bring another mass produced chair or product into the market based on what I call “legacy data”. The simple fact that the world is a finite system with a limited amount of resources always struck me as a critical point during product development. I’ve implemented what I call “sustainbly-minded” thinking as a sort of check list to help rule out complexity at the engineering phase which has trickled into the design aesthetic. Sometimes I miss blue sky thinking but when a design is complete, I can say each one is created with purpose. Each piece offers replaceable / upgrade-able parts to help lengthen the life span and interest in ownership. Efficiency by way of CNC machining also provides a map to cost and waste reduction. I would not call my furniture sustainable but it’s my best effort in working towards the mindset of what is needed to potentially achieve true sustainability within our systems. My thought is “Acknowledge boundaries, foster change and build to last”.

Bunkie-Lakeview

If you could do anything design project now, what would you do? Why? The ultimate project just might be on the horizon. I’ve developed a building construction technique based on furniture construction with Bunkie. We’ve built a couple of them but now the demand for the technology seems to be increasing. I would love to use this technique to work on a master planned community of micro homes that encompass farming, perma-culture and off-grid energy production. It makes more sense to me each day as the climate changes and new homes / communities are built based on that good old “legacy data”. These are the outdated standards that will render many homes useless in 40-50 years based on projected energy costs. It’s so obvious and in front of us. Sustainability is about a big shift in mindset and acknowledging what you are seeing and acting on it.

Charles and Ray Eames

What one product in the history of design do you wish had your name on it? I do have an admiration for Charles and Ray Eames, how his work is still so relevant today and how it embodied structure in it’s most elegant form.

What do you consider to the most valuable thing you own? Well anything of value to me would have to be useful. The little CNC router purchased to build all the furniture prototypes I’ve showed with MADE over the years was/is what made it all happen. I learned so much about how the machine works, even the hardcore background coding to optimize cutting. Without that learning and tinkering I wouldn’t have the knowledge that has helped me develop certain systems I use today.

What would you put in a new breakfast cereal box as a gimmick? I’d bring back the California Raisins because who doesn’t like weird 80’s stuff at the bottom of their cereal box?

Tell us about your next project? My next project is a stand up arcade for those who are into retro arcade gaming. This design is however much smaller, lighter, more efficient and cost effective then other products on the market. It uses a special snap fit dowel system that allows it to be flat shipped and easily assembled by the end user. An LCD monitor allows for a slim profile, thus opening up this otherwise bulky product to a small living space users. I collaborated with  Montreal based illustrator Sebastian Cuypers on a killer graphic theme.

What is your fave…
car/ My 1973 Volvo 144. The first of the Volvo safety cars and affectionately know as ” the brick”.
chair/ Wing chair by Hans J. Wegner
city/ Chicago
flower/ Tiger Lilly
designer/ Patricia Urquiola

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