We first encountered , the Canadian furniture and lighting brand founded by brothers-in-law Gabriel Kakon and Scott Richler, at ICFF a few years back and we’ve been enraptured with their work ever since. They’ve been rapidly growing, expanding well beyond the Canadian market, and in 2014, they opened their first showroom in a restored carriage house in NYC. Now, the duo splits their time between there and their Montreal studio. We kick off the first Where I Work post of 2017 with GABRIEL SCOTT as they share their work styles along with a look at both their studio and showroom.
What is your typical work style?
Our production studio works on a standard 9-5 schedule, but more often than not our studio team will roll in early to start the day or stay in late to work on their personal projects. For Scott and myself, there is no schedule – We are always catching up on our work and looking at new opportunities to grow the brand.
What’s your studio/work environment like?
With ourselves and our studio team coming from design school, or architecture school backgrounds, we most definitely all feel at home in a typical studio environment, where a sort of controlled mess is merely a reflection of the current design process – should it be designing new product, prototyping or simply during our regular production process.
As we complete certain goals or deadlines, we typically gather the team together for some well-needed cleaning and sorting.
How is your office organized/arranged?
Our studio is wide open – we enjoy a very transparent and collaborative work environment. We occupy approximately 5,000 sq. ft. of studio space divided between our administration, R&D/Design, and production space, as we all contribute towards a common energy and pace of productivity and morale. Music plays loud, lengthy conversations are had about 20 feet away from another, and deliverymen are well received about every 30 minutes throughout the day.
How long have you been in this space? Where did you work before that?
Since our 2012 debut we’ve been growing at a consistent rate of doubling our studio space every year. This year is the first time we’ve occupied the same space two years in a row. We are however currently seeking bigger digs as we have now been running extremely tight on space.
If you could change something about your workspace, what would it be?
More space would allow us to better separate production tasks… dirty from clean, heavy from light… We would be able to add some additional production and development toys as well!
Is there an office pet?
Yes, Paul the Frenchie.
Do you require music in the background? If so, who are some favorites?
Yes! We’re very big on music. We use a set of concert-grade speakers to fill the studio with all kinds of music. Given the mix of our studio team’s backgrounds, everyone gets a go at the playlist. From Cyndi Lauper, to some A Tribe Called Quest, or of course Queen. And yes, MANY of us sing along.
How do you record ideas?
Notebooks, trace paper, cardboard cutouts, everything. We push ideas very quickly from drawings to paper models, laser cut card or 3-D prints, This way they become part of the studio landscape so that we can all reflect on them, and help move them along. Or toss them.
Do you have an inspiration board? What’s on it right now?
As opposed to one “main” inspiration board, there are many.
As ideas are put forward in design and production meetings, different people either pick up, or are assigned parts of projects. Various inspiration boards develop around the studio as a result. Some common threads on the boards include pieces by Olifur Eliasson and Tomas Saraceno, tattoo work by Maxime Buschi (with whom we are working on a collaborative project), installations images from Martin Boyce, as well as some vintage jewelry from the likes of Repossi, and some pretty geeky stuff like geometric tessellations, and various technical drawings of jewelry and the rare piece of furniture.
What is your creative process and/or creative workflow like? Does it change every project or do you keep it the same?
Our designs process is very collaborative. The direction starts with us (Gabriel & Scott) as we see what our clientele and our collection is seeking. The development course is a very harmonious one, which includes our incredible studio team. We spend months going through rigorous prototyping and R&D processes. We work to get each new product just right in order to fit our aesthetic, design philosophy and our local production means.
What kind of design objects might you have scattered about the space?
Prototypes! We’re big on the tangible nature of prototyping. We get hands-on with our pieces as we refine their proportions, stability and their overall aesthetic.
Are there tools and/or machinery in your space?
Absolutely. Every hand tool imaginable for from drills and Dremels to Japanese hand saws, drill presses, end-mills, miter and chop saws, various electrical testers and converters.
What tool do you most enjoy using in the design process?
Our 3D printer for quick prototyping.
What design software do you use, if any, and for what?
Software of choice: Rhino, CAD, Solid Works – all for design, R&D and prototyping.
Is there a favorite project you’ve worked on?
A recent custom project in New York’s West Village called for a near 200-unit Welles fixture to weave through a beautifully complex staircase spanning over 4 stories tall. With extreme accuracy and clever engineering, we developed a winding and sculptural fixture that blossomed at the oversized skylight.
Do you feel like you’ve “made it”? What has made you feel like you’ve become successful? At what moment/circumstances? Or what will it take to get there?
Given GABRIEL SCOTT’s “youth,” it would be too soon to say that we’ve “made it.” What we have made, and keep making, is significant progress. The growing studio space, team, and resources, along with our NYC showroom, is truly indicative of our evolution. We hope to see continuous advancements in the years to come.
Tell us about a current project you’re working on. What was the inspiration behind it?
We are working on a range of product that is based on the Welles double blown glass. Right now we are testing different variations of glass blowing moulds for a tabletop collection as well as new wall and ceiling mount light fixtures. These are all inspired by the same geometry and technique that is employed in the double blown glass pendants.
What’s on your desk right now?
For starters, it’s typically not as neat as this! But our large 5ft x 5ft desk usually holds parts, samples or drawings of whatever we’re working on at any given time. It’s truly important for us to have these references on hand as we review and discuss new or ongoing projects. For that reason our desk is always active and rarely bare or uncluttered.
Do you have anything in your home that you’ve designed/created?
Personally, almost everything! We have been designing furniture and lighting since 2004, and I have adopted and integrated many of the prototypes and showroom samples into my home over the years. Two of the earliest and most recognizable Gabriel Scott prototypes that live in my home are the very first, and very raw, Kelly chandelier right over our very first dining table!