Meet Christian Blyt of Studio Corelam
@studiocorelam is a research, design, and manufacturing studio based in Vancouver BC, Canada. Read our interview with their founder, Christian Blyt, and if you like what you see, check out their Kickstarter campaign.
Pssst: As a mid-campaign surprise, Studio Corelam are releasing Round a bout 2.0; a simplified version of the Round a bout that maintains the ethos of the collection. The minimalism of this piece makes it uniquely adaptable to many uses and environments.
Tell us a little about Studio Corelam’s background. How did it start and what is your
It started with my developing the material, Corelam, during my studies in Finland. For a while, I was thinking it should be used by architects, but when I saw the projects they had in mind for it, it was only being used for its aesthetic qualities. They weren’t understanding the integrity of the material. The studio was set up as a way to be able to really demonstrate and utilize the material for its core values and unique abilities in a way that we saw fit.
Tell us a little about your current Kickstarter – “The Tidal Collection.” It’s pretty badass.
The Tidal Collection started with a user-centered survey we conducted because we really felt the way people are living is changing rapidly and their furniture should reflect that. The survey concluded that people are moving around a lot more - for work and otherwise - and are living in smaller and smaller spaces. The collection is a response to that survey, focusing on 3 essential pieces that address different areas within people’s living spaces designed with strong consideration of this new mode of transient living. We see Kickstarter as a way for us to find a community who subscribe to the same beliefs and values as we do, and it gives that community the ability to contribute as they see fit.
How do you balance functionality with aesthetics?
To me, if something does not work, no matter how beautiful it is, it’s failed. There’s a fine line between a great design and a mediocre design. Personally, I focus on simplicity, straightforwardness, and honesty. The relationship between the function and the aesthetics has to be honest and balanced. When it’s balanced, there is joy. When it is imbalanced, in one direction or the other, there is no joy in using or interacting with that object. When I teach my design classes at Emily Carr University, I like to tell my students to consider what they can subtract from their design, not about what they can add, to make it more successful.
Can you tell us a little bit about Corelam, and maybe some of your other favorite
materials to work with?
I’ve been always fascinated with corrugated materials and profiles. Now, with the studio, that fascination has translated into the designs. You can’t fight the material, and you can’t treat it like a flat piece of material. It’s corrugated, it has challenges, but within those challenges it has so many opportunities that a flat material does not have. That’s the thing - that constant discovery of new opportunities. Corelam has an interesting ability to engage people - they want to touch it, feel the textural value. It’s engaging in a way that is unique to natural materials and textures that human-made materials tend to lack.
I love to work with solid wood, but I can get excited about any type of material - even human-made materials. The idea of developing, exploring, and combining materials to find new qualities within them is interesting. I’d say you can find beauty in almost all materials if you look hard enough.
We love your focus on sustainability. What types of challenges do you encounter when
it comes to ethical production?
The biggest challenge is we find ourselves in a society where people want everything “cheap”. We have to stop using that word, “cheap” because it neglects to acknowledge the true costs of those products. There are costly implications to the environment and to the people producing them. They’re not environmentally or socially sustainable. For us, it’s common sense. You can pay now, or you can pay later. But you can’t force sustainability on people - it has to come from within them. That’s a challenge. So right now, it’s about finding early adopters who have similar value systems. The early adopters are the people who can influence the mainstream - not us. We live in a quick, consumerist society. We’ll always consume, but we want people to rationalize those decisions and slow them down.
Your focus on community is admirable and we also strongly value community (although
ours is online). What good things have come out of working with local shops/artisans vs.
We want to be able to tell the story of where our materials come from, who produced our pieces and where, through to those pieces finding their new home. And we want this story to be a series of strong personal relationships and conversations. So we’re not trying to export jobs. We are trying to create a collaborative community within Vancouver where we build relationships and mentor, critique, and motivate each other. In the business world, you want to beat your competition. We want to encourage one another and find ways to work together. And of course, this localism reduces the shipping of materials and outsourcing of production which can have big environmental, sociological costs.
Where do you see the future of furniture design heading?
The way people are living today is different than the way people were living even 10 years ago. In response to that, we have to change our perception of furniture; what it is, what it means; how it travels with us throughout our lives. We’re trying to challenge the status quo and make a shift in how people live with their furniture. People tend to value things that are big and heavy. This may have made sense 40 years ago when people would buy houses and never move from them for the rest of their lives, but it doesn’t reflect modern life; we need things to be light and compact so as to keep up with transience. They shouldn’t make a big statement - they should be timeless. I also see people starting to value the ability to participate in the act of making. This fosters an intimate relationship with belongings. But that making has to be an exciting, joyful, intuitive process. And while things may be light and thin, they need to be durable no matter how many times they’re taken apart.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever made (or would like to make someday?
During my studies in Helsinki I was a part of a one-night outdoor art happening downtown. We designed and built a superstructure across two 8-story buildings and suspended a swing from it. People would lay down in the swing and when pushed, they got about 3 stories high. There was music, a light show, and big installations happening at the same time. It was a magical event. Definitely a highlight of my studies.
What do you like to do when you’re not designing gorgeous, modern furniture?
I live in Vancouver so the wilderness and the water are right there. I like to ski, do sports, do anything outdoors. I also love to go with my family to our cabin in Finland which is on an island in the middle of a lake. The wood-fired sauna we have there has become a nice ritual; the preparation takes work and time but I find the whole process so rewarding - even before it’s ready for my family to go in. It’s an experience I would recommend to anyone.
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