Tuesday, December 13, 2011

US / MONTREAL / MANHATTAN --> New Coaster Sets!

Perfect for the design-philes (or US-friends) out there, we now have US City coasters available on our website and around downtown Toronto at Thor Espresso and at BYOB! Featuring from West to East coast, this set includes San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York (well, a portion of it). More images of the new coasters can be viewed on our website.

Also, to please our Montreal friends, we created a prototype just for you! Unfortunately these will not be for sale this year.....but with enough enticement maybe we will put them up next year :) We will accept poutine bribes, so don't be afraid to show us your (gravy) love !

Notice how organic the roads appear to sprawl out from one central "spine" (a.k.a. Metropolitan Expy).

Oh, and since we felt bad being forced to single out a small portion of NYC in the US Cities set, we decided to do a full-Manhattan set too. Unfortunately, Manhattan is a very odd-shape for your pint glass, so we had to improvise a bit. Hope you like!

In case you haven't noticed, we're en route to becoming coaster tycoons.

- Heather.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Trophies, Awards, and Winners - Oh My!

Inspired by the Office's Dundies awards, idea couture wanted to do give away 4 awards this year to their employees at the Christmas Party. My role was to design and build the trophies for the following awards:

The Supporter - The person who is most dedicated to the success of their team.
The Innovator - The person who has developed the best process improvement, methodology or approach for the good of the team.
The Cross Boarder - The person who most successfully collaborates beyond their own office's wall.
The Design Thinker - The person who best embodies the values of the company.

PattyG and I brainstormed for ideas. For the Supporter Award, we settled on getting iconic miniature chairs that we have at our office, stacking them to symbolize a strong base and support of others.

a chair on top of a chair on top of a chair

For the Innovator Award, we were a little cheesy and thought having a lightbulb would be 'innovative'. Instead of a normal lightbulb, we opted for a cage squirrel filament bulb. For the base, I laminated together 1/2" thick maple, with the bark side facing the front. To finish off the trophy, we caged it all with a plastic dome - which later in the party, turned out to be fantastic beer-to-mouth container.

For the Cross Boarder Award, we thought it would be fun to have a globe to symbolize that there literally has no boarder - where the world is their oyster. It took awhile to find the 'globey-locks' of globes - some were too big, some were too bright, some were too heavy and most were too expensive.

For the Design Thinker Award, we originally wanted a whiteboard on top of a trophy, however the small whiteboard we bought was slightly off brand for the 'embodying idea couture' award, instead a brand book was put on the easel. This trophy was the most outrageous one of all. Inspired by greek columns and encouraged by sports-trophy-enthusiast Bry Bry. The trophies got higher and higher.

With the short 2 day timeline, i have to shot out a special thanks to Liquid Nails, Super Glue, emergency last minute glue gun and that vice grip that fell on my feet. In the end, the globe trophy broke 3 times, the easel kept falling off the design thinker award, and the plastic dome was passed around as a beer drinking container. All and all, we all had a great party, it's a great company to work at and i hope these trophies will stand up to the test of time.

Awkward family of trophies

Winning a trophy that i built... shameless.

Riwa is the one.

Futurists Mat & Ricky - Mat eats lights for inspiration

See you next year, trophies.

- Jess

Monday, December 5, 2011

Which is Best?

The other day at lunch a co-worker and I were debating which province had the best silhouette. Being a Manitoban, I insisted that it was Manitoba. He, from Alberta, had a similar affection towards his home province and was therefore wrong.

So it was a nice surprise to walk by Style Garage yesterday and see these:

At first I thought that they were light boxes, but after looking closer they are just really well lit side tables.

Only Manitoba and Saskatchewan are showing, but the set actually comes with Alberta too. We did agree that Saskatchewan had a beautiful simplicity, but came up a bit short, lacking any natural features.

So what do you think? Are you Nunavut nutty, or an Albertan admirer?

Friday, November 18, 2011

N.D.C. in B.Y.O.B.

It's official.

We're now at BYOB - Toronto's 'first and only one-stop shop for everything bar and cocktail related'. Christmas is the season of drinking (and giving). Come stock up on bar supplies, beer making kits, bitters, and most importantly - I Kinda Like It Here Toronto Coasters.

We're excited for our product to be the newest family member amongst such eccentric collection of products.

The Mecca of alcohol accessories

sex sells... more coasters?

As a side note, the people who work at BYOB may be some of the friendliest people we've ever met. I would be happy too if i get to work around booze related designer products all day long.

927 Queen Street West
Toronto, ON. M6J 1H1.

Tue - Fri:12:00 pm-8:00 pm
Sat:11:00 am-8:00 pm
Sun:11:00 am-7:00 pm


- theNDC

Monday, November 14, 2011

Wooden Neapolitan 2

These hooks were created in the shop with leftover pieces from the Delta Dining table last summer. The tri-colour/tri-layer solid ash hooks are mounted to the wall at two points, using simple metal hardware and a countersunk hole, an idea that our friends at Ideacious recommended. It's the same simple mounting system that they are currently using on their Foreword book shelf by Karen King (which you can stock up on now through their prototype sale!). I was debating at one point to use a router and keyhole bit for mounting, but the metal hardware adds better strength and I think gives the back a nice graphic detail as well.

The colour combo adds a splash of fun to an otherwise mundane household item and I think I'll like try to incorporate the Neapolitan look into a few other designs next.

- Heather

Monday, November 7, 2011

Wooden Neapolitan

Here's a sneak peak on something I've been working on in the shop lately. Can you guess what it is?

Also, I just found out that there's Neapolitan and then there's Napoleon. Luckily this print will help you and I remember which is which:

Neapolitan Napoleon Print by Kate Gabriel.

- Heather.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

(Not So) Epic Carpenter

After seeing the Epic Carpenter video (see below), i was inspired to give the 'dangerous' lathe a second try. The man in the video made lathing look so easy.


should have rolled up sleeves

Took an hour to try to turn the rough maple blank to a cylindrical smooth blank. Every time one side is smoothed out, i realize that the other side is bulkier. After going back and forth smoothing out the lop side, the blank is getting smaller and smaller and smaller.... Reminds me of that episode of the Simpsons where a tree was cut down only to be turned down into a single toothpick.

Though it wasn't as easy as the video, it was extremely therapeutic and mesmerizing. Check back in a week to see what it's transformed to.

- Jess

Friday, October 28, 2011

Epic Carpenter Video

We wish our daily workshop experiences were as epic as this video:

The Carpenter from Dimitris Ladopoulos on Vimeo.

Love the motion info graphics, however that man should be wearing eye protection!

- Heather.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Wood Inspiration!

I have always been interested in bending wood. Lamination, steam, kerf, vacuum, you name it. It amazes me that such a hard static material can be manipulated to take a new form while keeping or even improving strength.

So it came as a surprise when I saw this video on Core77:

The "illusion" shown is interesting, but I am thinking that this method could be used for some pretty funky wood joints that wouldn't require any fasteners or even glue. Time to go down to the shop to experiment!


Monday, September 19, 2011

Wooden Fenders First Pics

It has taken a while, but the bent wood fenders are finally finished and bolted onto Heather's bike, just in time for a wet fall.

Bonus points if you recognize the garage on the right of the first picture!

The fenders are designed to fit onto any 700c bike wheel up to about 35 or 40mm. The mounts are also universal but we are not yet sure how they will work on a bike that has brakes. They are made from leftover ash that we also used for the Delta Table. We steam bent the table legs, and we lamination bent the fenders. The ash is a very light coloured hardwood that has a beautiful grain almost like oak.

The front fender is held on by the fork and a stainless steel wire bracket. It doesn't extend too far forward from the fork so it is able to support itself on the front end. The rear fender is attached to the frame at the chain stays and the seat stays, and also has a bent wire bracket. The three ply wood is stiff enough so that the fenders don't rattle, but light enough not to be noticeable.

It took a couple of tries but I got the bend form to just the right shape to compensate for the spring back of the wood. This was the first time that I had used real epoxy, and I have to say that it is amazing to work with and well worth the investment for a couple of cans and the proper pumps. I bought the smallest amount available and expect it to last us for at least a year.

I bent two small aluminium brackets for attachment to the frame. They fit through small slits that were cut in the wood and were then epoxied onto the inside. The assembled fenders were then finished in eight coats of marine grade clear coat to keep the wood safe.

The wire brackets are notched through the sides of the fenders to keep everything nice and sleek. This was then sewn onto the wood with some very thick cord. The cord is not waterproof as far as I know so it may have to be replaced after every year or so.

I am quite happy with the result, but there are a few details that I would like to change when I make more. I chose 3mm stainless steel wire for the brackets, and nearly killed myself trying to bend it. Next time I will order the 2mm stuff, and get some nicer mounting hardware.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Peanut Butter Lathing Time!

But really... who doesn't?

After numerous cautionary tales of close calls while using the wooden lathe, i finally worked up my courage and decided to make something easy - a silhouette of a peanut butter jar.

Starting with a square blank, i marked on both sides where the center point was, trimmed the corners off the blank to the closest i could get to a circle (which wasn't very close at all). Turing the wood into a circular blank was harder than i thought. Using a roughing gouge and a slow and steady hand I (by I, i really mean Scott) carefully took all the edges off and turned it nice and smooth.

Starting to see the resemblance...

Once at the desired diameter, I put in the parting/guide lines to give it a quick lid vs. body overall proportion of the peanut butter jar. Adding some small details... and we're almost there. The piece was then put on a one way 4 jaw chuck (basically holding the wooden piece only on one end, commonly used when making bowls), the purpose was to lathe in the indent detail found in the bottom of the jar. (on wine bottles it's called a wine punt, not sure what it's called in a jar. jar punt?). However, to my worst nightmare, during the middle of shaving off the bottom, the jar flew off the lathe, making a loud banging noise as it hits the concrete floor. Quietly, i turned off the lathed, cleaned up the area, picked up the slightly cracked piece... and took a shower.

masked and painted with black-board paint

i <3 Peanut Butter - BT

Overall, lathing is very fun, however proceed with caution, make the blank is locked tightly to the chuck, always 'test' turn on the lathe without standing in it's immediate-potential-path-of-destruction, and always clean up after you use the lathe.

- Jess

Monday, September 5, 2011


Hey everyone,

There is a cool startup company here in Toronto called Ideacious that you should check out. They are a little bit like Kickstarter, but in my opinion better. They allow anybody with an idea to get some feedback and design/manufacturing assistance to bring it to the masses.

Once the details are worked out between the Ideacious team and the inventor, it goes up for presale on the website to raise funds for production. The best part is that everyone who buys in early gets a piece of ownership. When more are sold, the early adopters actually make money back as a reward.

They also have a nice online shop that sells cool stuff from designers all over the world, including some of our own!


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

If first you don't succeed, fail again...

This is the first time failing at exposing a silk screen. Needless to say, I was crushed. The screen was exposed for a few minutes too long with the light a few cm too close. After half an hour of scrubbing to try to salvage the over exposed screen, I decided to try out Diazo emulsion remover and restart from square one.
Photo Emulsion Remover - Toxic!

The emulsion remover was to be spread over the exposed area, soaked for 1 - 1.5 min and then scrubbed with a nylon brush, rinse, and repeat. The majority of the emulsion peeled off after the first try. Second time around, the remaining emulsion did not come off so easy.

30 min into scrubbing and soaking the screen with photo emulsion remover in a bathtub, my hands and foot exposed to the chemical started to tingle. That was the point I decided that i should stop scrubbing and admit defeat.

30 min into scrubbing the screen...FAIL.

30 min into scrubbing the screen with a toothbrush reminded me of the scene in Private Benjamin where Goldie Hawn's character had to scrub the toilet with an electric tooth brush.

In the end, I learned that...
a) Trying to remove emulsion is not an easy job, a lot of patience and elbow grease is required.
b) Always listen to your roommate, you shouldn't neglect to wear protective gear.
c) Failure onto of another failure is okay. Just try again once the numbness from being exposed from the removal chemical fades away.

- Jess

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Junction Design Crawl

Happy Hump Day! We hope everyone had a good long weekend! Lucky for us, a four-day work week means that TGIFriday is right around the corner. So, what are you doing this Friday? Junction Design Crawl! We can't think of a better way to start off Friday night than going out for a nice evening stroll, where all of our favourite stores will be playing host for the evening.

We're already sold on the first two posts by Russet & Empire and Mjölk .....how often do you get to take a picture with the Man on the Moon and eat Icelandic beer-steamed hot dogs?!

Check out the official event website here for more up-to-date information.

Hope to see you there!

- Heather.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Lasers in Action!

Zap! Zap! Zap! Vancouver is getting attacked!

We've been testing out a new manufacturer for the coasters lately, and they were nice enough to give us a tour of their place :)

- Heather.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Cedar Planter

So despite the almost catastrophic lathe fail last month, this little cedar planter was salvaged! I ended up finding a piece of scrap ash from our cut-off box, and created a prosthetic base for where I went through with the chisel. Added a dab of polyurethane glue (which actually gets stronger the wetter it gets..crazy!), drilled a hole for drainage, and voila! And just in time for the backyard succulents that appear to be multiplying to no end.

- Heather.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Coasters are a good idea!

I am really digging these Oslo city neighbourhood coasters that are available at Shapeways by Studio Hansen. The six separate neighbourhoods can be placed together to form a small portion of the full city map. But for some reason you can not buy the full set of six. Instead they are available by neighbourhood.

Oslo Ceramic Coasters
by Studio Hansen
May 14, 2011.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Fire Time

We have a fire pit in the back yard that is great for clearing out the offcuts from our wood shop. Sometimes it is hard to burn the things that took a lot of work to make, and sometimes those things that we burn just looks cool:

LinkBurning Veneer, leftover from this experiment.


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Wood Fenders 3

The wood fenders for Heathers bike are making some progress. After the last bend test the form has been re-shaped with a tighter radius to compensate for the springback. The original form was cut down and the first test fender was glued on to act as the outer forming surface.

Fender being layed-up

Two fenders have been bent on this form and they both retain the right shape when unclamped. The fenders have been trimmed to size and sanded to remove the excess epoxy that squeezed out of the joints during clamping. Lamination bending is either a messy process, or I am not doing it properly.

Form, backer and two fenders.

There is a full half round fender for the rear tire, and a shorter fender for the front tire. The next steps are to source the support wire and brackets to attach the fenders to the bike securely. Once that is finalized the fenders will be drilled appropriately and finished with a marine grade clear coat.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lathe Fail :(

- Snookie Polizzi

- Heather.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Wood Fenders 2

The first bent wood fender came off of the form today. Considering how much epoxy was squeezed out of the wood and went everywhere, I consider coming off the form to be a very good thing.


There was more springback in the laminated wood than I was expecting. I will have to modify the form, or even make another form to end up with the right fender shape for the tire size. The wood ended up springing back around 8%, so I will try making a mould that is 8-10% over bent next time.

The three layers of 1.5mm ash are stiff enough when laminated. This gives a 4.5mm thick fender that is nice and light. Once it is braced to the bike through the brake mounts and by wire to the axle it will be stiff enough to ride with.

Laminated Profile.

On the Bike.

Because the fender radius is now too large it does not sit as close to the bike wheel as intended. The fender will also be trimmed thinner to look more proportional to the bike tire.