Who is the Victoria Design Collective and what is your mission? We are Stéfane Dimopoulos, Jon Braden, Mike Randall and Cristian Arostegui G. We are furniture designers growing our individual brands in a collective way. We’re each at different stages of growth so we provide honest feedback to each other which is invaluable when we mostly work alone. We meet regularly and support each other for shows and other marketing goals. Too many voices can get messy, but placed next to each other we can highlight our individuality, as a collective. Essentially, we are four friends who are very passionate about design and furniture. Why did you decide to form a collective? We all had similar design sensibilities so we started by getting together to talk shop and help each other grow, sharing ideas and values as it developed. As individual makers, it was difficult to get ahead on our own and decided to work together to do trade shows like IDS Vancouver.
What’s the biggest benefit of the partnership? We all come from very different backgrounds with varying skill sets and experiences so we are able to learn from each other. We complement each other. Having direct honest feedback from your peers is also an advantage. When you primarily work on your own it’s easy to get stuck in your projects and ideas. You work so hard on a project, and when you’re so close to it, you don’t always see how it can be improved. It’s beneficial to have that objective opinion. When you’re working in a group you can get direct feedback in the design phase before bringing a product to market. We can really push each other creatively to do better.
What is your collective philosophy on design? We have our own individual philosophies that marry well together as a group. The basis: simple, honest, functional and aesthetically pleasing design. What is the greatest benefit to consumers when they invest in local designers? Connection with the designer/maker allows the consumer to have a meaningful relationship with the product — in turn, making the product less disposable over time. Right now, consumerism is mostly based on trends, waves of product that come and go and create massive environmental waste. As a result, consumers feel less connected to what they own and therefore, disconnected from their homes. If consumers can connect directly to the person who made the product, they have a story that can carry on, and the piece can become an heirloom over time. Investing locally also creates a support system for your community. Cyclical investment in your community promotes healthy, thriving communities.
What are your milestones as a group? IDS Vancouver 2017 was big milestone for us. It was our first test to see how well we worked together. It involved a planning process, building a booth, getting the products together and doing the event itself. We weren’t strangers, but we weren’t exactly close yet. It was an opportunity to see how well our individual pieces worked together. Part of our collective is to showcase that we are four individual makers but that our products can work well together. You can furnish your entire home with all of our varying products. We worked well together and the response was positive.
What is the difference between good design and great design? It’s all in the details. Every aspect has to be thought out, well designed, well made, and purposeful.