Geoffrey Lilge is a Canadian designer and the design director for OurTable and Areaworks Site Furnishings. From 1994 to 2003 he was a founding partner of Pure Design, an Edmonton based manufacturer of furniture and home accessories.  The Pure Design collection was exhibited and distributed internationally, culminating in an ICFF Editor’s Award for Furniture and a listing in the MoMA Design Encyclopedia.

Janus-Chair

Let’s talk about your design philosophy, what is behind your creative work to date? Has this changed over time? I’ve always had a rational way of looking at design, which comes from being a manufacturer – every design has to be manufacturable, marketable and profitable, not matter the production scale. Right now I am focused on making the highest quality products I can locally, so marketability is a challenge. It’s about finding a balance that works. In the end I want to make products that are beautiful to touch and look at, and can be used for a long time.

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Your work rolls across mediums, objects and craft, products, events, and more. What drives this medium journey? I think I’ve always been curious about different materials and processes.  Pure Design was a 40,000 square foot production playground that we invited other designers to play in, once in a while a design proposal prompted us to upgrade production equipment or expand into a different material – so change was constant. I’ve been increasingly coveting the depth and finish level craft makers achieve, and one of my design goals is to recreate those intrinsic qualities in production pieces. Every material has so many different treatments and finishes, a designer today needs to work with the material for a good while to find their own sweet spot – just like any craftsman or artist.

ollection_geoffrey_lilge_046a0120a5b77ead970c01543574a36f970c-800wiDesign is an optimistic profession…are you still optimistic after all your years in the trench? I am still as optimistic as ever – I see new design almost every day that makes me smile. I’m thrilled with the response that the OnOurTable collection has received, and that keeps you pushing forward. The designs are connecting with exactly the audience I designed them for – chefs, design fans and people who love to cook with great tools.

Do you think the idea of “Branding yourself” is a good thing? An important function of some designers in reality is providing marketing services to their manufacturing clients, so it can be important. Consumers are drawn to strong personalities and interesting stories – to me that is a big part of design and the marketing of design, so I’d like to see more Canadian designers play into that ecosystem.

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coattrunk-richard-hutten-2001Tell me about working on the prairies. What is on the mind of the flat land designer, a movement, or some guiding principle? I’ve never thought in those terms, or on terms of a Canadian design aesthetic. I don’t think we could compete internationally if we thought regionally. That said, we have some unique designers working in and from the west right now. Brent Comber has been able to use materials from the coast to create a collection that is technically and materially innovative – if anyone has worked his region to his benefit it’s him.

What is your fave piece from your past? We had a good run for a decade and I think we contributed some solid pieces to Canadian design history – I still get random emails from people looking for Douglas Coupland tables. I was looking back through the Pure Design archives and it was amazing how many designs we were pitched from designers who were young at the time and are now industry standouts. I will say that Richard Hutten’s Coattrunk is my favourite.

What one sentence “life in design” lesson would you share with others? Never stop collaborating.

 

My favourite…
car/ Honda Ridgeline. I’m not a car guy, this is all function. I need a four door truck with a trunk.
chair/ Peter Hvidt & Orla Molgaard Nielsen AX Chair
brand/ Vitsœ
magazine/ Azure and Dwell (tie)
city/ Edmonton

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