Today we have a little Q+A with Brent Freedman of Gamla Studio, a young emerging furniture and product design studio located here in Vancouver. Gamla makes furniture, household products, toys, onsite installations, and offer a Golden Age Getaway (which we wrote about earlier this spring). Here's our interview:
Tell us a little bit about you. Where did you train or study and what led you to the path you currently are on?
Growing up in Winnipeg with a fashion designer for a mom, I was introduced to the design process early on. I spent my childhood in countless garment factories watching the work she designed being crafted into manufactured goods; this eventually led me to study fine arts and design in Montreal. I've always been a maker, and I've never limited myself to what that means—I even had some success as a musician. Whether it be practical or a bit more experimental, I don't remember a time when I wasn't producing work. So, when I moved to Vancouver a couple of years ago, I founded Gamla, a creative studio that makes furniture, products, and everything in between. It keeps me busy, and I love it.
What's your main focus currently and/or how would you describe your current design aesthetic?
Gamla is about everyday life—about how people live, what their very basic needs are, and how we can address those needs in an artful way. Our main focus is furniture and product design, making high quality objects that are fun, functional, and uncomplicated while remaining sculptural and beautiful. We love working with fine woods and designer textiles, but we make and build our products so they can be used and admired. It shouldn't be one or the other. For example, our line of All Purpose Tables are meant for dining, working, having drinks with friends around, and when not in use, it should be a special object to look at in your space. It's my belief that as a maker, it's my duty to celebrate the materials I use. Elevate, not complicate. Being a new studio, we're working like crazy developing our product line, and I'm excited about our upcoming work.
Love your work - can you explain that design process?
Wow. I suppose the process is different depending on the goal and purpose of the project. If the piece is being crafted for a specific client with specific needs, it begins with listening to what they're looking for, what their space is like, and allowing the form to develop from there. If there is a request for a specific material, I try to discover what exactly it is about this material that makes it special, then will design around that one attribute. Like I said, as a maker, I want to elevate, not complicate the products we design. I'm very hands on as I work; I sketch a little at first, but generally the design is born from the process of creation. I'm constantly stepping back and analyzing each piece as it is crafted. Admittedly, this process can be a bit more time consuming than absolutely necessary, but it's part of being a perfectionist in my craft.
What designers/makers/architects, etc do you look up to, are influenced by or inspire you?
Most of my design sensibility comes from classic Danish designers like Hans Wegner, Grete Jalk and Arne Jacobsen. I would have to say my minimalist instincts come from Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe and I am hugely inspired by the multidisciplinary approach by Charles and Ray Eames. And to name a few contemporary designers and artists: Hay from Denmark: www.hay.dk, Nendo from Japan: www.nendo.jp, Philip Malouin: www.philippemalouin.com, Zoe Mowat: www.zoemowat.com, Omer Arbel: www.omerarbel.com, David Hoffos: www.davidhoffos.com, Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller: www.cardiffmiller.com. Plus, I'm lucky to have some amazingly talented friends: Brian Hunter: www.brianhunter.ca, Evan Broens: www.evanbroens.com, Richard Clements: www.richard-clements.com, Tyson Parks: www.tysonparks.com, and countless others, but I should stop there!
Where else do you pull inspiration from?
Because Gamla is about everyday life, I suppose I don't pull inspiration from any one particular area. Inspiration is tricky. It can come while listening to the radio, or from having a beer with a friend. As simple as that sounds, for me it's about listening and being tuned in to ideas—they're everywhere. I'm not usually a person that has random moments of magic; I'm constantly working because I have to be. The lightbulb moment only comes through that constant work, and the magic happens while I'm flushing it out.
Any sneak peeks or plans you can share of new or future things on the go?
Gamla is currently launching an online shop on our site, with several new products, including lamps, toys and smaller accessories, as well as our popular line of tables. We are also on the way to opening a new shop with a small production facility and storefront. We have some really fun ideas about how the space will be used, and it's the next natural progression for Gamla. I'm incredibly excited—stay tuned!
Website : gamla.ca
Shop : gamla.ca/shop
Blog : gamlastudio.tumblr.com
Twitter : twitter.com/gamlastudio