Designs on the Future | Industrial Design Collaboration with BoConcept Furniture

Posted: Tue, 2013-04-02 09:34

Founded by Danish craftsmen and cabinetmakers, Jens Ærthøj and Tage Mølholm in 1952, BoConcept has consistently set the standard for pairing fresh, innovative design with community involvement. This is reflected in one of their most recent ventures, a collaboration with Emily Carr University’s Industrial Design Program.

Last Fall, Emily Lin (‘09), BoConcept Design Consultant, came up with an idea for a competition that would be of benefit to both her employer and her alma mater. “From my days at Emily Carr, I’ve always felt that working with industry allows students to think more critically about their own design,” says Lin. “Not only does it provide additional resources but an opportunity to  get feedback from real world designers. Design is very much about the users, the customers, so you need understand demand, what people need.“

She approached her former instructor Associate Professor Christian Blyt and once the idea began to take shape, they enlisted the assistance of Claus Ditlev Jensen, Collection and Visual Director for BoConcept Global (Denmark). Together, they created a specific set of criteria for third year Industrial Design students in Blyt’s Furniture Design class. The objective? To design and prototype a multi-functional furniture piece for urban living environments, which are fast becoming more of a challenge to furnish functionally due to living space constraints. As an additional twist, Blyt told students to add 20 years to their design concept and create a piece that would fit seamlessly into the year 2032!

Students worked in teams over the course of the Fall semester, and three of the six projects were chosen as finalists. Jensen flew in from Denmark for the actual judging and BoConcept is now pursuing two of the designs. First, however, students will continue to work with Jensen and one of the senior designers from the head office over the summer, refining their designs for a final prototype presentation in the Fall of 2013.

Jensen, who has been attending several industrial design seminars in Europe and conferences in the US, believes that the high standard at the university is what has made the project such a huge success.  “There has been a lot of talk globally about how to involve and integrate the consumers and designers more, so I’ve been looking to attract additional designers and talent for a while now,” says Jensen. “This project was the perfect opportunity to do just that, and I think we can learn a lot from what we’ve seen here in Vancouver.”

Student Charlotte Kennedy believes that this opportunity was a positive and exploratory process for everyone involved. “This project intersected open learning and professional practice which allowed for thoughtful and engaging critiques of the design work from varying perspectives,” says Kennedy. “We were challenged on a conceptual level to take our visions of the future and create compelling stories which gave life to our designs. The notion of developing a story, through the design of an artefact, that speaks to BoConcept’s worldwide consumer was perhaps the most important and challenging learning I took away from the experience."

“This is the first real experience that BoConcept has had working with a design school,” says Blyt. “I think we all found the experience to be enlightening and BoConcept was very impressed with the professionalism of the students. They delivered far more than was expected.”

The shortlisted teams were comprised of Carlos Angel, Carlina Bertilsson (who is attending Emily Carr on exchange from Sweden) and Seth Parker, (first place); Olivia Alvarez, Scott Forsythe and Douglas Weir, (second place); and Charlotte Kennedy, John McLeod, and Joel Tremblay (honourable mention).

Watch emix to learn more about this project in the Fall.