Cover photo by Jason O'Donnell, Infinite Eye Photography
Dale Shippit never intended to start a furniture design company. When he brought home scraps of clean wood from his work site eight years ago, he simply saw an opportunity to play and create, while fabricating meaningful gifts for friends and family.
Though he's moved away from using reclaimed wood as a principal medium, not much else has changed at Birch & Grey. The design studio continues to place an emphasis on learning, playfulness and, above all else, relationships, when creating beautiful, functional, high-end products.
"We want to help people make their milestones that much greater by being around furniture and pieces of art that are going to enhance life," says Shippit.
An interactive installation, opening Friday in the Southgate Centre as part of the inaugural Edmonton Design Week, will give some insight into Birch & Grey's design process. Titled The Evolution of Design, the installation will walk through the process of furniture design — from renderings to raw materials to finished products — and will put a particular focus on the initial step of communicating with clients.
In order to create meaningful, lasting products Shippit ensures he understands his patrons' needs and the possibilities and limitations of the space where the furniture will live.
"It's a ton of work. The business model probably isn't that great. But I also believe that we don't just build furniture, we build community," says Shippit. "I think that's what separates us from other builders, designers and makers."
Two of Birch & Grey's products are also featured in the first edition of Gifted, an annual collection of Edmonton Made products, which went live online Tuesday.
Here's a look at a few other Edmonton Design Week events being hosted by local companies featured in the Edmonton Made gift catalogue.
This is the official Gifted launch party. Join the Edmonton Made team at the Hyatt Place Hotel on Monday, Sept. 25 for the opportunity to taste, touch and smell this collection of beautiful products. Can't attend the party? Be sure to check out the Edmonton Made window installation in the historic Gibson Block building (9608 Jasper Ave). This installation showcases a sampling of the incredible products available from businesses based right here in Edmonton.
Saturday, Sept. 25, 7-9 p.m.
Hyatt Place Hotel | 9576 Jasper Avenue, Second Floor Lounge
The Edmonton-based studio, which uses concrete to build functional, timeless pieces of art, will give an exclusive preview of its Fall/Winter 2017 Colourways collection in celebration of Edmonton Design Week. Enjoy a drink and some sweets, as well as 20 per cent off in-studios purchases, with the cash bar supporting Citie Ballet, Edmonton’s resident ballet company. The event is free but space is limited. Snag your ticket here!
Thursday, Sept. 28, 7-9 p.m. (18+)
Concrete Cat Studio | 5608 82 Ave NW
Featuring new works from furniture designers DIV.12 and Izm, industrial design studio OneTwoSix and architectural manufacturer Knock Out, this unique installation is a celebration of made-in-Edmonton creativity. The exhibit, which can be seen at Iconoclast Koffeehuis during regular business hours throughout Edmonton Design Week, will kick off with a party on Saturday Sept. 23. With catering by Culina, drinks by Daravara, and music by DJ Echo (All Out Dj's/The Common), this night is not to be missed. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased here.
Saturday, Sept. 23, 7-11:59 p.m.
Iconoclast Koffeehuis | 11807B 105 Avenue NW
For 27 years, gravitypope has outfitted Edmontonians with carefully chosen, beautiful, unique and handcrafted collections of footwear, clothing and accessories. The independently owned boutique is partnering with Rodrigo from Zapato Sanchez, who does all of the retailer's shoe repairs and also designs custom men's footwear, to put together a window installation that explains the various stages of shoe construction. Sanchez will also be in store on Saturday, Sept. 23 to conduct a demo and engage with patrons.
Saturday, Sept. 23, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Gravitypope | 2-10442 82 Avenue
In addition to a special window display, visit the Alberta Craft Council's feature gallery for an exploration of the prairie landscape through glass work. Artists Julia Reimer, Tyler Rock and Katherine Russell have lived and worked in rural western Canada and the Australian outback and are inspired by the commonalities between the two landscapes. The ACC operates the only public gallery in the province dedicated to exhibiting craft arts. Admission to Landmarks is free.
Friday, Sept. 22 to Saturday, Sept. 30, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Alberta Craft Council | 10186 106 Street NW