Michael Barton and Mari Fujita are multidisciplinary designers who share backgrounds in art, film making, and architecture. Through their roles in the design practice Maiku Brando, they endeavour to produce delightful and useful human-scale products.
Michael and Mari aim to share a feeling of joy through design. Their practice is focused on the development of inventive and elegant design solutions, while seeking the potential for their designs to deliver a greater impact. They apply traditional and emerging technologies and materials in novel ways, while constantly questioning conventional industry practices and production methods.
Their design practice stands out as symbolic of the times we are in. The pandemic demands a practical response – and their face mask design unites functionality with extreme comfort, unique graphics, and an ethos of care. Each product is designed, hand dyed, hand printed, and hand sewn in Vancouver, transcending the medium. Genuine practical and psychological needs are met by their product: people need PPE and they also needed to feel uplifted. Maiku Brando strives to give both. “When society is faced with challenges, it is time to double our commitment to the acts which elevate us.” — Michael Barton
Benjamin Kikkert is a hot glass and mixed media artist whose work explores themes of landscape and history through cultural, industrial and impressionist artifact. The vibrant and gritty textures of this work at once evoke senses of familiarity and discovery within the viewer. Collections document specific places and can include work installed in situ, with past projects including expeditions to the high Arctic, Newfoundland and Georgian Bay to name a few.
Working from his studio, Vancouver Studio Glass on Granville Island, Benjamin offers the public an “open kitchen” approach to a professional glassblowing studio. Contemporary custom glass design and traditional craftsmanship are presented together with ever changing variety. His goal is to offer the visitor an original experience with each visit to his studio, and to share his passion for the possibilities of glass.
Through a studied use of clean lines and an unwavering commitment to a minimalist aesthetic, Karen’s studio, KONZUK has developed a renowned modern line of handcrafted concrete jewellery for the contemporary design lover. Her wearable architecture is artfully constructed from the meaningful use of industrial materials inspired by her appreciation of the west coast landscape and the majestic sky.
Karen has garnered international attention including being invited in 2019 to develop an official jewellery collection by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation on Wright’s works. She has retailed in internationally recognized museums and art galleries such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Guggenheim, NYC—and closer to home, at the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Polygon Gallery.
Karen has recently expanded her designs to include household objects that evolve the striking aesthetic of her jewellery pieces into a series of extraordinary objects that bring a sense of drama to the living space.
Nancy is an established costume designer who has worked creatively with various dance, theatre, opera and film directors internationally and across Canada. Vancouver has been her home for the last 40 years. Her work with choreographer Crystal Pite has had much notoriety in Europe, USA and across Canada as well as theatre projects with Morris Panych and Kim Collier locally, for the Shaw Festival and Canadian Stage. She is known to bring her unique vision to every project she works on, while maintaining a collaborative approach. Her attention to detail has brought her numerous awards for costume design including Jessie Richardson theatre awards, the Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Award, a Leo (film) Award and two Olivier Awards.
In addition, Nancy has worked with the Paris Opera, The Royal Ballet (London), The Netherlands Dance Theatre, the Zurich Opera Ballet, the Monte-Carlo Ballet, the Stuttgart Ballet, the Dance Theatre of Harlem, Ballet BC and the National Ballet of Canada and designed for theatre directors and artists such as Stan Douglas (Helen Lawrence), Morris Panych for many of his productions (including The Overcoat) and Kim Collier and Jonathon Young (Tear the Curtain) of the Electric Company. Her involvement with each of her creations and the actors who wear them is legendary, “She has been known to stand backstage during a dress rehearsal, sewing costume pieces onto actors as they walk onstage.” — Morris Panych, director and playwright.
Jeff Martin is a furniture designer and collaborator. His studio, Jeff Martin Joinery, explores research-based design that creates beautiful, interesting and high-quality furniture with sales across Canada, US and Europe. One of his studio’s philosophies is that beauty is inherently a characteristic of how interesting something presents. Never one to remain with a single medium, Jeff has expanded his practice to experimental glass blowing, focusing on cork molded, mouth blown collectible glass vessels.
Jeff has recently moved to a large production facility based out of Vancouver’s 1000 Parker Street studio which serves as a showroom and makes space for other designers to help promote their work. It is in keeping with Jeff’s mentorship to younger artists and designers along with his determination to collect and promote their work that makes him a force within the design community.