This year we were pleased to be asked by Michael Green Architects to contribute a firebowl to the Design Build Research project at the Vancouver TED conference. DBR is a non profit school for young designers that aims to develop a full understanding of the design process by providing its students with practical project experience from conception to completion. Their projects are a welcome reminder about how important it is to work hands on with materials and processes in order to really understand them.
When we visited the TED 2016 site the students were assembling the last few pieces of the structures. It was inspiring to see the pods come to life and witness the atmosphere around the project. Everybody was a little tired but clearly satisfied and moved by the process of labouring together to turn an idea into something that could be touched and experienced. Being able to participate in this project reminded us of the importance of the beginning stages of learning and of maintaining the wide eyed curiosity that is present when things are new.
We started Solus in 1997 in a one car garage in North Vancouver with a mallet, a wheelbarrow and a few trowels. In those days we were, like the students, learning to understand how materials behaved. Each week we attempted to turn our ideas into concrete objects. We tried things, made mistakes and developed techniques. We were inspired by the possibilities and often operated on the edge of our knowledge and ability. Since then we have learned a lot and streamlined our processes, incorporating strict guidelines by which each piece is produced. We still make mistakes and work to learn from them but it is easy to lose perspective within the everyday problem solving that is involved in running a business. With the added responsibility of employing 20 people we have to continually reconnect to the enthusiasm of our first years in order to keep our intentions clear. We are grateful to MG Architects, DBR, their students and all of the people who keep working to maintain our connection to the source of why we make things.