Toronto Furniture Designer Ian Vandenberg on Inspiration

Irwin Weiner ASID - You never know when inspiration strikes. For an interior designer, we look at our clients' interests, lifestyle, tastes, personal collections, color dictates, and personal style preferences - and then we look at our own experience, new resources that keep hitting the market, historical references, and leaven it all with a big dash of our own inner creativity. Voila - inspiration! Working in a creative industry, it's always a joy to discover others who are pursuing their design dreams, and we're fortunate to have made contact with hot Toronto designer Ian Vandenberg

First, I wanted him to share his inspirations with our Design2Share readers.

My design inspirations are influenced from experiences and interactions with my environment. What I see in both the natural and built environment are often the starting points to my ideas.
Two projects I'm currently working on are quite different from each other; one product takes its inspiration from my urban environment, while the other one mimics nature. I've done some rapid prototypes and am gearing up for the production stage. I'm very excited to launch both of these new products in the early summer of 2013. 

We'll definitely share these new products with you when they're released! I asked Ian how he first became interested in interior design. 

As a kid, I was always taking things apart and putting them back together. I think it was this fascination with the mechanics of how things worked that sparked my interest in Industrial Design. When I was introduced to the potential of good design in University, I was hooked. I took a particular interest in furniture design and how pieces interact with their surrounding space.
 Kees Seating System © Ian Vandenberg Design

Kees Seating System © Ian Vandenberg Design

But why was Ian drawn to Toronto? What's hot on the Toronto design scene right now?

Toronto has a strong art and design presence and is booming with shows and new galleries. It's a great city that supports both local and international talent. The Design Exchange is a perfect example of a Toronto organization which showcases both local and international designers. 

 Gang magnetic coasters © Ian Vandenberg Design

Gang magnetic coasters © Ian Vandenberg Design

What design trend is Ian liking at the moment?

The reclaimed movement is big in Toronto, which I am a fan of. I like the idea of the materials telling a story of the past. I'm noticing that people are generally wanting to have more sustainable and eco-conscious options available to them, and reclaimed materials does just that.

I asked Ian why he makes products, and how his journey began. Were there challenges along the way? 

It was working as a designer at Nienkamper furniture where I learned the intricate details involved with designing and manufacturing high quality furniture.
It's the small details and tricks of the trade that make the difference, and it's most noticeable in modern furniture. Klaus Nienkamper is an icon in the Toronto design scene and was a mentor for me when creating the Arbor table. Being surrounded by timeless designs and involved with a trend setting furniture company instilled in me a desire to make great products.  
 Arbor © Ian Vandenberg Design

Arbor © Ian Vandenberg Design

Overcoming challenges is part of the design process. I contacted almost every metal shop in the city before I could convince one to make the Arbor table. Given the unique bends and profile of the table, many shops didn't want to take on the project. Finding a fabricator to apply the walnut veneer was even more of a challenge. No wood shop wanted to touch this piece since it required cutting the profile by hand. The few that did wanted an outrageous amount, pushing the retail price beyond my target price point.  
After some testing I decided to apply the veneer myself, cutting and sanding each branch profile by hand. The result was a beautiful piece of furniture that was well worth the year long process from initial design to final product. 

And where does Ian Vandenberg see his business five or ten years from now? 

Continuing product design is the current focus of the business. I would like to continue to grow with my jewelry designs, as well as housewares and accessories. 
 Mixtape necklace © Ian Vandenberg Design

Mixtape necklace © Ian Vandenberg Design

 Chess Board © Ian Vandenberg Design

Chess Board © Ian Vandenberg Design

Over the next few years I would like to continue to develop lasting relationships with retailers who appreciate good design and local manufacturing. I currently sell my products through Etsy and Ideacious and would like to have my own online store selling directly to consumers.