We fell in love with Vancouver-based furniture designer Christian Woo's cabinetry work and furniture at IDSwest a few years back and even more than ever his work inspires us. Woo's minimalist modern designs are a huge favourite and I'm surprised I haven't asked him sooner for an interview here. Christian's work is renowned for its carefully worked-through detailing and elegant simplicity; his surprise pops of color, use of beautiful FSC certified hardwoods and consideration of the surroundings his bespoke pieces will be placed, set him apart. We sent out a few questions last week, here's what he said. But first his bio:
Since starting his company in 2006, Woo's practice is driven by his profound respect for craftmanship and the nature of his chosen material. Woo's bespoke furniture is informed by the natural setting of the Pacific Northwest and subtly influenced by the refined and warm aesthetic of Scandinavian and Japanese design. As Christain explains, "I design my furniture to be minimal and harmonious complementing the undulating, rugged and extreme landscape I grew up with".
Tell us a little bit about you. Where did you train or study and what led you to the path you currently are on?
I was born in Madrid and raised in Vancouver. I'm a furniture designer and wood worker at heart. I don’t have a traditional design education per se, but have formal training as a cabinet maker. I opened my own studio in 2006. These days I’m concentrating on increasing the profile of the studio, producing high calibre furniture and interiors and expanding into international markets.
What's your main focus currently and/or how would you describe your current design aesthetic?
My focus is two-fold: producing the new work I've designed and engaging with a wider audience. With more production pieces in the works and given the opportunities through social media and other networks, an international reach is more than possible. The new work will exhibit the same aesthetic as usual for me. Strong forms and solid wood construction with some hand turned elements. I'm pretty excited about what's coming up.
We loved your latest designs at IDSwest - and especially the cluster colour table this past fall - can you explain that design process?
The Cluster table was never intended to have the glass top. The base was really just a problem-solving exercise for me and sat in my shop for two years. I’d just completed an interior project for clients who were having a party and needed a table and fast. I experimented with the black glass top and it just worked. At IDS I showed the Cluster with colour and they have been well received. It's a favourite piece of mine and they're a pleasure to make.
What Canadian designers/makers/architects, etc do you look up to, are influenced by or inspire you?
There are so many of them. I'm a fan of Shawn Place for sure. I love the work of Peter Cardew and Chris Hunter. We have a lot of talent in Vancouver so I guess I’m inspired by the collective impact of many accomplished creatives here. I love the heritage of modernism in Vancouver. I've been fortunate to have created work for homes designed by Richard Henriquez and Ron Thom. That work has had enormous influence on me.
Where else do you pull inspiration from?
From wherever I can :). I ‘m most inspired by working in my shop, hands on, it's my favourite thing to do. I also find inspiration while out in nature –usually on trail runs with Indy, my loyal shepherd. I love my job, and that’s inspiration in itself.
Any sneak peeks or plans you can share of new or future things on the go?
I’ve had some great bursts of creativity lately which feels so good as a maker. My work includes a lot of solid wood ( of course ) with turned elements and again, some hits of colour. Next up is a family of tables, new platform beds and more case goods. I would describe the aesthetic as typical for me. Strong, basic forms, refined. I'll be immersing myself in a new interior project this spring as well. It's an exciting project and I'll have some room to experiment a little. It's an entire woodwork package for a great modern home designed by Vancouver Architect Scott Posno. I'm thinking white washed ash throughout! (Photo credits | Trevor Brady).
Can't wait to see! Thank you Christian!
Christians Woo's furniture can be found at Provide here in Vancouver and you can find Christian online: