3 Questions x2 Brothers Dressler
by Greg / June 5, 2008

Jason and Lars Dressler are twin woodworkers building furniture and other objects with a respect for material, process and craftsmanship. By focusing on creating at a craft level, they design and produce custom furniture and batch production work from their woodshop in Toronto, Canada.

"We are always looking for opportunities to repurpose and upcycle salvaged objects, materials and waste streams and we make an effort to use renewable resources and suppliers who share our commitment to responsible forestry practices. Because the nature of our work is defined by the specific elements that go into each piece, we embrace the constraints inherent in each project and use them to focus the possibilities and direct our continual search for responsible materials. Wasting material is taboo to us and we believe that with a little creative thinking much of our potential waste can be repurposed into useful and beautiful objects".

We met Brothers Dressler in Toronto at the Gladstone and Radiant Dark exhibit back in February. We liked their work and had some questions. More after the jump...

Last Waltz - Southern Ontario Black Walnut with found shoe lasts.

ML: You mentioned when we spoke at Radiant Dark that you both have interesting backgrounds (before being designers) including basketball. Tell us more about that:

Lars: We both completed engineering programs at University of Toronto, Jason studied mechanical and I studied chemical engineering, and we both played varsity basketball for the school. During that time we began experimenting with creating our own furniture in our garage using lumber and other scrap material. After university we had a stint playing professional basketball in Germany, which was a great experience, playing that caliber of basketball while also living and venturing throughout Europe. And there was so much inspiration surrounding us in Europe that living there definitely sparked a further interest in design. Upon our return I worked various jobs and still built furniture as a hobby, while continuing to travel as much as possible.

Jason: After our return I worked as a project engineer for a while but I was soon frustrated with the gap between designer and builder and wanted to do something creative. I started apprenticing as a woodworker and decided to take a course in furniture design at The Sheridan School of Crafts and Design. Once I graduated from Sheridan I started the Brothers Dressler with Lars and we began producing and experimenting with some of our own designs while also collaborating with other designers and architects on building their projects including small cabins, kitchens, and custom pieces.

Chaise Longue - Back to the Drafting Board - fsc white oak with soy based cushion and repurposed drafting table hardware, natural wool fabric.

ML: Does being brothers work well as a team for design?

Jason: Most definitely. The benefit of being brothers, especially the closeness of being twins, is a lifelong collaboration where we know each others proclivities and tastes. That element of instinctual communication allows for fluid exchange and understanding when we are hashing out ideas.

Lars: And we're not afraid to speak our minds to each other, sharing our ideas and criticisms helps to encourage the development of a concept. That direct and organic exchange of ideas helps us to reach each idea's full potential.

Last Frontier Shelf - Locally harvested Slippery elm with found shoe lasts

ML: And your work. You enjoy working with wood repurposing and upcycling salvaged objects- tell us more.

Lars: We make ourselves aware of the original source of all our materials. As a crucial design constraint, our choice of material dictates how we use it, and is effected by where it comes from and what happens to it at the end of its life cycle. One thing we always agree on is the significance of our choice of material. Our first choice would be something that has been salvaged, whether it is wood or a distinct object. Failing that we aim to use recycled material or material from responsibly managed sources. Most of the material that's not used in making a piece is designed into another object to give life to what was potentially scrap. The bracelets and toys we create out of the off-cuts from our onedge series, and our Mesh system which makes use of solid wood scraps, are working examples of this.

Jason: We see repurposing as an effective and necessary way to minimize waste and keep objects in use and out of the trash. The objects we choose to incorporate in our designs are often items that have come into our hands by chance, or that we have sought out because of their craftsmanship, history, or original purpose. Some materials we're currently building into new work include found shoe lasts (destined to be firewood in a fishing camp in Northern Ontario), Iron window sash weights salvaged from local renovations and elm and leather conveyor apron from a defunct felt factory in Toronto. We've also used old hemlock and pine salvaged from century old piers that had been underwater for many years. We see an inherent beauty in these industrial objects, when we think about the amount of work and energy that went into them it inspires us to give them a new life. There are so many historical objects that will never be seen or used again so we try to keep their legacy alive by making them into something new, beautiful and functional. Many of the repurposed materials we use are destined for the dump, so its really satisfying to step in and pluck them out of that waste stream.

Lars: In every city there are countless waste streams to be tapped and plenty of creative minds to come up with new uses for the material. We want to create pieces that invoke a sense of beauty, sensuality, and function - the result being a far cry from ending up as a piece of garbage.

Last Light - found shoe last with LED lighting



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