Given its location on the West Coast, it’s perhaps no suprise to find so much wood work at the Eastside Culture Crawl. But what may shock you is the wildly diverse array of ways that the event’s artists are using it, from surfboard cabinetry to bass-clef-shaped rings.
Here are just a few of the highlights:
Well-known local designer Judson Beaumont, of Straight Line Designs, is best-known for his curvy, whimsical, and often anthropomorphized furniture. But check out his surfboard series, cabinets inspired by Tofino and capturing the quintessential West Coast.
Beaumont says his favourite thing about the pieces is that when people see them on display, they don’t immediately realize that the surfboards are functional furniture. But they open up in the middle to reveal space-saving shelving.
The surfboards are all unique, crafted out of different types of wood, like walnut, alder, maple, and jatoba. They start at $1,500 and range from five to eight feet tall. You can find Beaumont’s studio at Parker Street Studios (1000 Parker Street) during the Crawl.
> Janet Smith
The term sustainable wood might conjure rough-cut, knotty furnishings. But that description couldn’t be farther from the creations of Romney Shipway, of Shipway Design. Based out of the Mergatroid Building (975 Vernon Drive), Shipway uses wood from a sustainably managed community forest on Cortes Island. But his pieces are smooth, often modular and geometric, and sometimes punched up with touches of colour.
Look no further than his playfully leaning 30/60 vessels, crafted from Douglas fir with a metal insert. Working as candleholders or planters, they come in hues of pink, white, turquoise, and more ($45 for one or $125 for three); have fun switching up the way they fit together. Check out his coolly modular credenzas and consoles, light and airy for small condo spaces.
Beyond his woods, Shipway holds his other materials to high standards as well, including water-based, non-VOC finishes, paints, and glues.
> Janet Smith
Wood is the basis of James Harry’s sculptures, totem poles, and mixed-media projects, forming three-dimensional shapes that forward stories and traditions from his Indigenous lineage.
An artist of Squamish Nation and European descent, he brings cedar and copper together in harmony to create pieces that emit an iridescent glow while showing off his skilled craftsmanship. (You may recognize his works from public spaces such as the Vancouver International Airport and UBC’s department of mechanical engineering.)
At the Kim Heng Noodle Building (617 Gore Avenue) during the Crawl, you’ll find a mix of Harry’s completed and in-progress projects, including his signature wood-and-metal totem poles that illuminate Coast Salish iconography.
> Lucy Lau
Get into the grain
Yes, RJ Designs’ Riley Janzen makes stylin’ custom wood longboards, but what we love is the way their sleek lines and wood stripes are echoed in his other pieces. That means cutting boards you won’t want to store away in a cupboard, like the beautifully grainy, red-striped walnut and padauk version with its opposite corner angles ($75).
Look also for his cool cribbage boards, some with similar contrasting stripes or dramatically wavy, one-of-a-kind grains (about $50). Clearly, Janzen has chops; growing up in North Van, he always had a woodworking shop in the basement of his house.
These days you can find him in his atmospheric, 1930s Strathcona studio at 615 East Georgia Street—a stop, for the first time, on this year’s Crawl.
> Janet Smith
Think wood objects and your mind may wander to handcrafted furnishings and functional home items, but artists Valentina Stepan and Zoran Kranjčec regularly transform the material into wearable art. Known collectivelyas Mist Forms, the two create nature-inspired necklaces, rings, and brooches that range from the subtle to the spectacularly dramatic.
Mahogany, ash, and pear wood make up geometric pendants, for example, while wenge and walnut form delicate pins reminiscent of paper airplanes. The woodworking pair also produce personalized rings carved in the shape of a bass clef—perfect for the musically inclined—and statement-making necklaces designed to complement the collarbone.
You can find Mist Forms at MakerLabs (780 East Cordova Street) during the Crawl.
> Lucy Lau
Ari Lazer’s intricate pendant lights, mirrors, wall hangings, and other pieces have the meditative power of a mandala. The creative force behind Sacred Light Design blends the study of traditional sacred geometry with woodworking and high-tech CRC laser cutting to create his complex pieces.
A glowing polyhedron lantern made of Baltic birch and aluminum posts features beautiful scrolling flora, while mirrors are framed by undulating eastern forms. Visit his studio at the Yew Woodshop (1295 Frances Street) to marvel at custom functional pieces, artworks, and moving sculptures, all inspired by the repeating patterns of nature—and to leave in a more contemplative mood.
> Janet Smith