KNAUF AND BROWN — Interview
Knauf and Brown, D. Calen Knauf and Conrad Brown, designers, Vancouver, Canada.
Hello D. Calen and Conrad, how are you?
We’re really great!
Can you introduce yourselves?
Conrad — I am Conrad Brown, designer and photographer from Vancouver, Canada.
Calen — And I am D. Calen Knauf, a designer also from Vancouver, Canada.
How do you work together?
It is a pretty natural workflow. At this point, our studio is very young, so we don’t have established positions. We both have different strengths, but the real benefit comes from letting ideas evolve back and forth between the two of us. Sometimes we will both be drawing together, other times we’ll compare drawings we made separately. Either way, we’ll see things in each other’s drawings, add or subtract from them, or redraw them. There’s a lot of “Whoa, Whoa! What if it was like this!” followed by “and then it could have this!”… We get pretty excited when the pens are out.
Where does your interest in design come from?
It comes from a curiosity towards how objects in our lives come to be, combined with a dissatisfaction of the way some are made, and an appreciation of the way a select few are made. The man made world is such an interesting place. There is no creature on earth with a more complicated attachment to things. Being able to make parts of that world feels like an honour.
Can you tell us more about the « Dossier Sac »?
The Dossier sac was designed slowly and organically over 8 years or so. In 2005, I [Calen] made a basic canvas drawstring bag with a large green dollar sign on it that I used as a small tote. I sold a few at store that belonged to a friend of mine. Eventually I got tired of it and found it too juvenile and kitschy but I still really liked the idea of a super basic tote. So, around 2009, I made another one, this time out of ballistic nylon and a purple climbing rope. I loved it and used it a ton. People would ask about it, but I never bothered to make more. Then, years later, while walking downtown on Granville street and feeling rather sharp, I noticed this particularly sharp gentleman crossing the road at Georgia St, carrying a beautiful bag made of a heavy thick leather. I looked down at my now-frayed and beaten nylon sac and thought to myself, this bag needs an upgrade. That same intersection of Georgia and Granville is where our friend Greg Papove is crossing the street in the Dossier sac photos.
Did you plan to make a bag, accessory or leather goods collection?
So far, apart from client work, we’ve only made things we felt we needed. So if we do move forward with a collection, it would be designed along those lines… it would have to be something that we feel is not made available by other products on the market.
What was the idea behind your The Profile Chair?
The concept was very simple, a quality folding chair that feels more at home open than closed. It was designed in Vancouver, a city where apartments are getting smaller and smaller, and the real reason to have collapsible furniture is not to bring it out occasionally for company, but rather to be able to stow away the things you already use every day when you need extra space.
Is there any designer you appreciate a lot?
Calen — Naming dead designers is always boring since they’re not around to hear that you care about them. The Bouroullec brothers are high on the list. Pierre Charpin makes us want to make more and more beautiful things.
Conrad — There are so many well-designed pieces in the world, and each time a new one appears, I have a new favourite designer. Although more often than not, they seem to come from France: Jean-Baptist Fastrez, Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, Normal Studio, just to name a few.
Which books are on your bedside tables?
Conrad — A stack of various sized sketchbooks, and whatever books my friends recommend I borrow.
Calen — The Laws, Ethics of Luxury, and Half Asleep in Frog Pyjamas.
The last word…
Never divorce your first idea!
Interview : Dennis Moya & Tiffany Baehler – 09.14
Projects are ©Knauf and Brown, Dossier sac (photos): Jennilee Marigomen, Heavystock (photos): Jesse W Chen.