Industrial Designers of the Year 2013: Loyal Loot
A university project evolves into one of the West's most enduring design studios.
There’s strength in numbers, they say, and the thoughtful and engaging work of Edmonton’s Loyal Loot collective is beautiful proof. “It’s knowing that someone is as fully invested in something as you are,” says designer and co-founder Doha Chebib Lindskoog. “It’s so rewarding when things go well and you can share that—and to have someone back you up when things don’t.”
Together with Anna Thomas, Carmen Douville and Dara Humniski, she produces a line of thoughtful, playful homeware: the Monsieur Dressup, a cheeky coat-hanger that imitates a man’s shirt collar; the scalloped Cupcake table that mimics the form of the treat’s wrapper; reclaimed tree branches that are transformed into glossy, candy-coloured Log bowls. Though the four women have been design partners for more than a decade, their work remains timeless.
“There is always a sense of irony about their design approach,” observes judge Paul Rowan, co-founder of Umbra. “It’s those surprise elements that make me smile.” The four have been collaborating since they banded together as students in the University of Alberta’s industrial design program to produce a collection for Cabin, a 2004 travelling design exhibition that explored Canadian iconography. In the process, they managed to create new Western icons: the collective’s signature Log bowls and Coat Hang (modelled after axe-split kindling) are still in production 10 years later and are beloved by design fiends and retailers alike. (J. Crew recently purchased the lacquered logs for gifts for their top 100 customers.) “There is something quite perfect about those little Log bowls, the precisely carved hemispheres of glossy colour within a literal slice of raw nature. They beg to be touched, collected and used with pleasure,” commends judge Stephanie Forsythe, designer and co-founder of Molo. The shapes of nature provide plentiful source ma-terial for the group. “There are perfect forms in nature and there’s a reason they look the way they do,” Linskoog says thoughtfully. “But inspiration is everywhere: colours in a painting, or in fashion, can spark an idea, too.”
Today, Lindskoog and Thomas handle all aspects of Loyal Loot’s business (“It unfortunately involves a lot more time spent on the computer than you’d think,” Lindskoog laughs) while Humniski and Douville collaborate as inspiration strikes. “A lot of the time, we’re working on something individually and just asking for advice,” says Lindskoog of the group’s business relationship. “It’s so nice to have someone you respect give you feedback. We trust each others’ viewpoint and eye immensely.”
Despite the continued success of their early projects, Lindskoog and co. are always looking forward. A series of colour-field mirrors are in the works, as are experiments with ceramics; and, though sourcing ethical and local manufacturers for their new projects has proved challenging, Loyal Loot’s dedication to creating pieces that endure hasn’t wavered. “We all appreciate design that isn’t throwaway. It’s about being green, but also about that romantic element, too: we want to make objects with meaning that you’ll want to stay with you.” WL