Stronghold_3(Chris Charuk)

Stronghold (2012).  In collaboration wtih Chris Charuk and Steven Wilson.  Photo credit: Chris Charuk.

 

In Mason Journal’s second feature interview with Toronto Design Offsite Festival designers and artists, we speak with a maker who steadily perches between tradition and technology.  The Toronto-based, Tomas Rojcik, explains where he developed his skill set, how advances in manufacturing will create great social challenges, and how the Toronto Design Offsite Festival is changing the landscape of the Canadian design community.

Mason Journal: How do you describe your craft/discipline/practice?

Tomas Rojcik: I am intrigued with the space between digital and physical and use a combination of old and new world techniques. My work is often an expression of the love/hate relationship I have with computers. I am constantly using it as a tool to design and communicate with others, but at the same time I feel energized by stepping away and actually allowing my hands to feel and explore a material.

MJ: Can you tell us about yourself and how you evolved into your current practice?

TR: My father owns a plastic injection moulding company and I worked there on and off growing up. I have always been fascinated by industrial processes equipment and machinery and working at this shop really helped me develop a sense of what is possible in an industrialized setting. After high school, I continued my studies in a business program and ultimately worked in marketing at a company that employed industrial designers, this was the turning point. I realized that I went to school for the wrong thing. I was already feeling the monotony of cubicle work and could no longer spend the entirety of my days sitting behind a screen. I had friends who introduced me to the Crafts and Design Program at Sheridan College and it was there, under the instruction of Peter Fleming, that I really began to explore materials.

MJ: Is there a fundamental process or perspective you try to maintain across all your projects?

TR: Although it may not always be apparent, I always try to include hand techniques amidst the combination of other processes and manufacturing.  I try not to design within the limitations of a specific process. I am really interested in 3D printing because the limitations have not yet been realized, and as it’s an additive process, there is little to no waste. This still new technology will hugely impact the world. In a few years, design piracy could become an issue. With the option to download print files from the internet, the possibilities, opportunities and risks are endless. Fully working 3D printed plastic guns are also on the horizon and there is no doubt this technology will change manufacturing, but also seriously challenge society.

 

Pendent_45_3(Rebecca Horwitz)
Pendant 45 (2012).  Photo credit: Rebecca Horwitz.

Pendent 45_2(Ivy Lin)
Pendant 45 (2012).  Photo credit: Ivy Lin.

Peg 1
Peg Lamp and Chair (2012).

Peg_3
Peg Chair (2012).

 

MJ: Do you collaborate with other designers or artists? How does this change the process of your work flow?

TR: I love when I have the opportunity to work with others. It allows for immediate feedback between ideas. I think collaborative projects change the flow because it’s no longer the ideas of one.  The attempt of combining aesthetics and specialities allows for new realms to appear in places that have otherwise been undiscovered. I would say that the most difficult part of working with others would just be combining schedules and creating a timeline.

MJ: What impact do you see Toronto Design Offsite Festival having on the local and national design industry?

TR: First off, it’s so great to see this week getting larger and more publicized each year. More and more it gives a chance to smaller and independent designers to showcase their work in a professional setting to a larger and more diverse audience. All it takes now is one image to become and hit on the internet, and through media attendance that possibility increases every year. TODO has created an event for Canadian designers to be proud of and for the local and international communities to appreciate Canadian design in new ways. …Why it’s in January though, I am not sure…

MJ: What benefits are there in having a Canadian-based design practice?

TR: I don’t know if there is a benefit, on an international level we are not considered a strong design nation. There are countries in Europe with half the population that have a much richer and more diverse design industry. Consumer culture in North America places the importance on price, leading to purchases at Walmart or places like that.  Whereas looking at the European design market, a large part of the population chooses to buy quality goods with the intention of keeping them for a lifetime

MJ: How can Canada develop a design identity on an international stage?

TR: Most importantly, it’s about exposure. We need grants to help designers participate in international exhibitions. I also think that with globalization that the community needs to expand, perhaps collaborations between companies. I think one day we will get there but I know it will take time.

 

Dales_1
Dales Bench (2011). 

Hatchet_3(Joe Bauman)
Hatchet Salt & Pepper Shakers (2010).  In collaboration with Mark Finnigan and Joseph Bauman.  Photo credit: Joe Bauman. 

Hatchet_2(Joe Bauman)
Hatchet Salt & Pepper Shakers (2010).  In collaboration with Mark Finnigan and Joseph Bauman.  Photo credit: Joe Bauman. 

 

MJ: From a local perspective, how do you see the art and design industry shifting over the next few years? How will this impact your work?

TR: Each year I notice more thoughtful consumer choices being made towards locally, ethically made and sustainable goods. I see people being aware of how money spent shows support to the things that are important to them. In Toronto, we are lucky to have so many options for beautifully made goods.  It’s a matter of knowing the places and businesses that are encouraging local designers and makers. TODO is also a great opportunity to discover some amazing local businesses.

MJ: Can you tell us what we can look forward to seeing from you next?

TR: This year I’m collaborating on an interactive lighting installation at Come Up to my Room [2013] with Andrew Lovett-Barron that explores mankind’s fascination and evolutionary dependence on fire. I am also taking part in the Shiny Pretty Things exhibition at Cooper Cole gallery for which I am making a small oil lamp and showing my Peg Lamp and Chair at Sovereign State for Do Design. I also have a rocking chair that I’ve been working on for far too long that I would like to finish and a small Bluetooth Stereo.

 

FS_BW_3
Firesite (2013).  In collaboration with Andrew Lovett-Barron. 

Olej
Olej (2013).

BT_Stereo_6
Bluetooth Stereo.

BT_Stereo_2
Bluetooth Stereo.

To learn more about Tomas, visit his website at www.tomasrojcik.com

Title image: Stronghold (2012).  In collaboration wtih Chris Charuk and Steven Wilson.  Photo credit: Chris Charuk.

Images courtesy of Tomas Rojcik, unless otherwise noted.