Heidi Earnshaw in her downtown Toronto studio (Michelle Siu)
As a reaction to mass manufacturing, the burgeoning slow furniture movement is a painstakingly careful, anachronistically plodding way to produce chairs, desks and credenzas. Everything is made using time-honoured carpentry techniques, out of elemental materials, without computer-guided machines and routers.
Acclaimed, Toronto-based Heidi Earnshaw is an advocate of the trend. Her designs have the subtlety of a Robert Frost poem and have been recognized by the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Toronto Arts Awards.
Next month, she’ll be participating in IIDEX, Canada’s national design and architecture expo in Toronto.
Here, Earnshaw talks about her roots as a chainsaw artist, the miracles of vinegar and the importance of taking things slow.
A lot of people are unfamiliar with the term slow furniture. What does it mean to you?
Slow furniture is basically an offshoot of the slow food movement, which started in Italy in the 1980s as a reaction to the first McDonald’s opening in Rome. For me, it’s about creating furniture in a thoughtful and environmentally sustainable way while supporting local economies and using local resources.