ZOË MOWAT — Interview
Zoë Mowat, industrial designer based in Montreal, Canada.
Hello Zoë, how are you?
I’m very well, thanks!
Can you introduce yourself?
I’m a designer based in Montreal, Canada. I studied Industrial Design in university and started my eponymous studio in 2010. I focus on furniture and object design and my goal is to ultimately make things that people want to keep around. I always wanted to be a sculptor, so that’s often one way that I approach my work. My designs are very material driven and I appreciate simple forms and geometry as well as bold colors. But in addition to the formal elements, underlying concepts and ideas often kick-start my designs. I find that there’s always a balance.
Projects vary from custom commissions, contract work, and the development of my own furniture line. I’m also part of a co-op of independent designers with a showroom / gallery space in Manhattan, New York, called Colony.
Where does your interest in industrial design come from?
I suppose I was interested in design before I even knew what design really was. I was always drawn to objects, especially at a young age, for their tactility, color, shape, material and especially for how they worked. I was always making and collecting things.
Initially I wanted to be a sculptor like my mother. However, I changed my program at the last minute and ended up studying design in university instead. I found that I was drawn to the thoughtfulness of design—that everyday items could be designed by a governing philosophy. I wanted to make objects that could be touched and used. I like that intimacy.
Your objects combine various materials and colors, how do you choose them?
I think most of the time, it’s just what sticks with me—simple observations of colors or materials I come across while I’m traveling, in an art gallery or just walking around my neighbourhood. My process is fairly organic and I often work more abstractly, where a color or material alone can spark an idea. A lot of this process is about balance and proportion and I enjoy combining colors, materials, and textures and finding different ways of bringing them together.
Can you tell us the concept behind the Ora Side table?
The Ora table series was inspired by the concept of strata or layers, and the idea that the centre of the table itself is airy, light and open. I wanted to play with negative space and find a solution that could contain things as well as support them. Coloured forms prop up a circular glass surface and provide an open geometric space for storing small items.
How would you describe your design style?
It’s continually evolving. I enjoy learning and challenging myself, and often my approach is about exploring my own design language—through the combination of simple forms, saturated colors, and a range of materials.
Who are the designers that you admire?
I’m drawn to designers that have an approach to design that is distinctively and recognizably their own—a style or way of thinking that takes risks and most often disregards the current trends of the time. I definitely admire many of the women from the early 20th century, especially the work of Eileen Gray and Charlotte Perriand.
What stimulates you outside design?
The usual suspects: travel, art, music and especially film.
Which books are on your bedside table?
I love fiction but I seem to only have time for short stories at the moment, so it’s Nabokov’s complete collection of short stories, and David Foster Wallace’s, A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, which is quite entertaining.
The last word…
Interview: Dennis Moya & Tiffany Bähler — 10.15
Pictures ©Zoë Mowat.