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Furniture Design

Behold our new Student(s) Of The Month — designers Calen Knauf and Conrad Brown

Posted by Liv Siddall,

Here we have it, our brand spanking new Students of the Month! Hailing all the way from Vancouver, Knauf and Conrad are in their fourth year of studying at Emily Carr University and produced this rather beautiful Profile Chair last year. Of all our entries this month, Conrad and Knauf showed a rare knack for collaboration and a strong sense of the importance of the finished product. This subtle yet incredibly beautiful chair is a testament to how well they work together as a duo, which we will hear much more about below (along with some top tips on how to make your student work as lucrative as possible).

At the time of making this project, who or what was your biggest influence?

We really wish we could list off a bunch of old Italian guys as our influences, but for most projects, we find ourselves needing things, so we make them. Sometimes it’s because we don’t have something we want, and other times, we want something that doesn’t exist.

The Heavy Stock shelving was made from the need for modular shelving that could be infinitely expanded, was sturdy as hell, easy to put together and had a very light visual presence. When we were working on the Profile Chair we wanted to make one that had characteristics and function that you couldn’t find elsewhere. [Conrad’s note: as far as old Italian guys go, Calen really likes Joe Colombo’s work]

What is the most valuable thing you have learnt at university to date?

This is really funny that we got to be considered Students Of The Month – it’s a title that we’d be far from getting from our school. Remember why you’re there. Not to impress instructors, not to get a good GPA and a pat on the back, just to learn, practise, and be a better designer. Sometimes you have to prioritise, and a pecha kucha presentation takes a back seat to finishing up a prototype. You’re trying to get clients, and your portfolio is going to carry more weight then that A– on that essay. School is an investment, and it should pay off in real dividends.

What would you be doing now if you weren’t at art design school?

Definitely the same thing. We’ve long had a deep appreciation for how things work and how people work with them. Calen has been working as a graphic designer since before we started school, and Conrad was and still is a photographer – he shoots all of our projects. Design is the driving force in our lives, and it’s what pays the bills (and tuition). Without school we would’ve found some other way of facilitating our need to make things work well, look good, and have fun doing it.

Where are you creating most of your work?

It’s a balance between school and our studio. School has all the machines and equipment for making prototypes, but as far as getting creative, the studio is better for that. It’s in Calen’s apartment, so there are lots of smart and amazing creative people that drop by from time to time.

What are you working on at the moment?

At the moment we are both working on separate grad projects. Conrad’s project is very research-based on aesthetics and beauty in design. It started by asking why we like the things we like, and now he’s neck-deep in books about it. He can’t wait to actually start making things though. Calen’s project is focusing on how we interact with objects on a more manual level, similar to the difference between an automatic vs. manual transmission in a car. He’s making domestic objects that involve a more engaged interaction, instead of (for instance) a mindless flick of a switch.

We’re always working on projects outside of school under the Knauf and Brown banner. We just licensed some furniture, something we’re pretty excited about, and we put on art and design exhibitions locally whenever we can.

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    Knauf and Brown: The Profile Chair

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    Knauf and Brown: The Profile Chair

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    Knauf and Brown: The Profile Chair

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    Knauf and Brown: The Profile Chair

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    Knauf and Brown: The Profile Chair


Posted by Liv Siddall

Liv joined It’s Nice That as an intern in 2011 and is now one of our editors. She oversees itsnicethat.com and has a particular interest in illustration, photography and music videos. She is also a regular guest and sometime host on our Studio Audience podcast.

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