Designers of the Year Photo Credit: Eugene Uhuad, 3Ten Photo

Eco Designers of the Year 2011: Contexture Design

Past, present and future come together in the narrative of Contexture Design.

Etched onto the floors of Contexture Design’s Vancouver offices are a series of faded footprints, connected by arrows and dotted lines. The space was once a dance studio, but these days it’s a creative hub for one of Western Canada’s more sustainability-minded design teams. For Contexture founding partners Nathan Lee and Trevor Coghill, the remnant diagrams also symbolize their obsession with the past and a desire to chart a more eco-friendly future. Since 2005 the pair have been drawing inspiration from a variety of reclaimed materials—turning discarded maps into hanging mobiles, and wine crates and corks into chessboards. Contexture’s work is innovative, elegant and imbued with social consciousness; as judge Peter Busby puts it, “No one else has exhibited such a marked commitment to reuse locally sourced waste materials.” Lee, 37, and Coghill, 36, met in high school in Coquitlam, B.C., in the early ’90s; both eventually ending up in the University of British Columbia’s landscape architecture program. While they occasionally take on landscape design gigs, it is industrial design work with “historical, cultural or environmental significance” that consumes most of their waking hours. This March, the company hired a sales rep to keep up with burgeoning demand. Lee sees a future where Contexture moves beyond scavenging for post-consumer morsels and is able to offer design solutions at the source: “It would be great to have a client who has a waste stream and says, ‘What can you do with this?’”

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