Green Living: Studio Corelam crafts flexible furniture for urban nomads

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      Call it a millennial thing or blame it on the astronomical real-estate and rental markets that are making it difficult for couples, families, and, heck, even singles to settle down, but the reality is that people are moving from one region to another more than ever before. And with frequent relocations come uneasiness, a few tears, and a trail of abandoned furniture that, in 2017, is keeping classified-ad sites like Craigslist and Kijiji afloat.

      “If you bought a piece of furniture and then you got a job somewhere else in the world,” says furniture designer Christian Blyt, “would you seriously consider bringing it with you?”

      The answer, for most people, is “No.” And although some furnishing and décor items can be passed on to others, the new products that eventually enter homes may only be needed for a short time. It’s an issue of consumption that Blyt is aiming to solve with Studio Corelam, a local design startup that, in his words, “does more with less”.

      The company recently launched its debut Tidal collection on Kickstarter, where it’s hoping to raise enough funds before June 15 to begin production. The three-piece furniture and décor series includes the Capilano, a wall-mounted coat rack and shelf; the Round a bout, a cylindrical stool that does triple duty as a side table and nightstand; and the Lean to, a compact leaning shelf that may be assembled and disassembled with only one tool.

      All of the items are made from Corelam, a patented corrugated plywood that is lightweight, durable, and easy to transport. Blyt developed the material while studying at Aalto University in Finland; more than a decade later, he has perfected its construction. He compares it to corrugated cardboard, which is flexible but strong enough to carry heavy loads.

      Studio Corelam's Round a bout does triple duty as a storage-equipped stool, side table, and nightstand.
      Studio Corelam

      “We don’t really think much of corrugated cardboard now,” Blyt tells the Straight by phone, “but if you look at it when it came out, it really revolutionized packaging because, previously, everything was packaged in crates.”

      Corelam’s grooved structure gives the Tidal collection a distinct Scandi meets West Coast vibe, but it’s also the key to the products’ versatility and multifunctionality. (The ridges on the Capilano, for example, create 15 hooks where jackets, bags, and other items may be stored.) In addition, each item is packed flat, snaps together with minimal hardware, and may be easily taken apart as needed. This makes them great for frequent movers, or, as Blyt calls them, “urban nomads”.

      “What we’re trying to do is create a paradigm shift of how people use materials and how they interact with materials in their lives,” the designer says.

      Blyt and his team have crafted the entire collection with sustainability in mind. The pieces are made in Vancouver in a process that favours eco-minded supplies and creates little waste. By keeping the needs of today’s city dwellers in mind, as well as the environment and the increasingly scarce and out-of-reach residences available, Blyt hopes that his products will strike a chord with people looking to reevaluate their consumption practices.

      “We are interested in challenging the way people decide to invest in things that will become a part of their lives, and we want to encourage the slowing-down and rationalization of that process,” he says.