Based in: Toronto, Canada
Objects & Ideas is a Canadian design practice founded in 2015 by Di Tao and Bob Dodd.
At Objects & Ideas, we say that the best products have a soul, a presence, something that speaks to us. We experience it as designers in our own studio with prototype designs, and sometimes simply sketches. Our Mono Chair was like that. It came out of an ideation process that started with a feeling we wanted to express – one single line drawn in space, twisting and turning to produce the fluid outline that was to become the Mono chair.
That process is typical of how we work. We often start with ideas, colours, and shapes rather than concrete plans to make a new chair or table. We have a collection of aluminum tables for example, our Northern Lights collection which was us trying to interpret that amazing light show we get in the north of Canada. The aurora became flowing ribbons of interleaved colour, and thin streaks of polished bare aluminum, and those in turn became the DNA for a collection of tables, including our Flow coffee table. And so it was with Mono where we didn’t set out to design a chair, or any particular furniture; furniture for us is just a vehicle for an idea that becomes functional art. And somehow, as that fluid line wraps around to form the unique shape of the Mono Chair, the design speaks to you of its form and meaning.
Di and Bob have quite diverse backgrounds. Di has a formal background in product design, with a master’s degree from the University of Art and Design, Helsinki, whilst Bob has a master’s is in multimedia design and user interaction. We have both worked in Europe, Asia, and North America, and between us we have developed quite a unique sense of style and aesthetics, and we have our own particular way of collaborating. We work together intensively during ideation, but Bob then steps away to allow Di to develop the ideas into finished products. Obviously, we do talk and review progress, and collaboration begins in earnest again when we discuss design for manufacture,
This approach to ideation, and the complementary experimentation we undertake at times with our manufacturing process, is why our studio is perhaps a little different to others, and what we do is much closer to art than to mass production.
We often start with ideas, colours, and shapes rather than concrete plans to make a piece of furniture. We have a collection of aluminum tables for example, that is our response to the Northern Lights we see in the sky over northern Canada. The aurora became flowing ribbons of interleaved colour with thin streaks of polished bare aluminum, and those in turn became the DNA for a collection of tables.
Transformative, Poetic, Authentic
We come to design riding on the shoulders of giants. People like Dieter Rams and Alec Issigonis, taking two heroes at random. We have a Braun Audio 310 in our studio and honestly, we just want to pet it. Even now it feels new and so far in advance of the vinyl it plays. And then of course there is the Mini Cooper, a car that looks cool whatever colours you throw at it. And in neither product is it the basic functions that draws you to them, yet they both have a unique voice that speaks to you.
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