features
#090 / 2008
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608 Design: Toronto

Designer Evan Bare introduced his furniture prototypes to a leading Toronto retailer in August 2007. The first production pieces from his Toronto-based company 608 Design went on sale in December. To reach that point, Bare took the route from studying industrial design to working the shop floor to getting to know the capabilities of CNC machines, CAD and 3D solid modelling software.

Bare's enthusiasm for furniture design centres on new materials, manufacturing, sustainability and engineering. His interests favoured the three-year industrial design program at Humber College, as "it had a nice blend between manufacturing and design," Bare explained to furniturelink.

On graduation in 2001, he didn't follow the pack into the more glamorous automotive or office furniture sector, choosing instead the shop-floor realities of a large Toronto furniture frame manufacturer. Bare recounted wryly, "It wasn't like working at a nice office desk in Teknion or Herman Miller with your vending machine in the corner."

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Cubert chair with underseat storage (left)

However, what the job lacked in perks, it made up in offering valuable experience. During his three years there, Bare developed about a hundred chair and upholstery frames for several different manufacturers. When he started the job, components were laboriously traced in pencil and then band-sawed to shape. By extrapolating 2D data from 3D designs developed in the software program, Solid Works, Bare enabled the company to automate its component production with the purchase of a new CNC router in 2002-03.

In 2005 he went to his current job of product engineer with one of Canada's long-established office furniture manufacturers. This position allows Bare to refine his knowledge of CNC machining, work-flow analysis, prototype production and quality control.

Bare traces his interest in sustainability to two influences - the movie "End of Suburbia" and a visit to Bruce Mau's exhibit, Massive Change. When Bare considered what he had learned about manufacturing, he realized furniture making could be a prime sector for the adoption of eco principles. On his own time, Bare began to develop a line of furniture that incorporated eco-friendly materials and CNC production with design solutions for seating and storage in today's increasingly smaller living spaces.

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Cubert love seat displayed at the CMHC sustainable condo

His Cubert chair (top) incorporates orientated strand board (OSB) open storage boxes, FSC-certified plywood for inner frame and underseat storage and sinuous spring suspension. His Cubert love seat (above) uses similar frame materials, with reconstituted veneered PB for the open storage boxes. Both designs feature soy-based latex foam, recycled polyester upholstery fabric and water-based finishes.

In 2007 Bare attended a panel discussion by retailers Shaun Moore and Julie Nicholson, owners of Made, who impressed him with their commitment to promote emerging design talent. Bare commented, "Our goals are aligned in terms of what we want to do - produce locally and create value in Canadian products." This value-fit encouraged Bare to sell his products through Made's Toronto showroom. The arrangement also led to CMHC choosing Bare's love seat for display in the "sustainable condo," currently located in the Direct Energy Centre at Exhibition Place on Toronto's waterfront.

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À Côté table, FSC plywood frame, glass top and steel base

For future products Bare hopes to access the latest five-axis CNC technology, laser prototyping and cutting-edge materials to "explore unique and random ideas about how to change the way people see seating, furniture or products in general." On this topic, Bare speculated about using recent knitting machine technology to create upholstery forms that stretch over low-cost CNC frames with custom laser sintered jointing mechanisms. He also thinks many technologies explored by large, high-tech corporations may be available soon to smaller-scale producers.

With his design education, shop-floor experience, CNC knowledge, emphasis on sustainability and creative solutions for today's consumers, Toronto's Evan Bare of 608 Design represents Canada's future in furniture production.

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© furniturelink 2008, images © 608 Design