1. Stéphane Leathead (above)

Creative director and designer, Designarium, Montreal


Baltic birch and anodized aluminum

“I thought there must be a way to figure out a chair that would transform almost infinitely to whatever configuration you want and with as few pieces as possible. It became an obsession, and over the next two weeks I worked like crazy–about 12 hours a day, seven days a week.

“The rotation of the chair came to mind when I was playing with paper and making little dummies. The rotation basically allows you to design the chair you want. If you want a tall chair or a lounge chair that will rock gently, it's possible.”

2. Rebecca Hannon

Jeweller, Halifax

NECKPIECES, 2013-2015

Laminate, stainless steel, cable, nylon and silver

NECKPIECES, 2013-2015

“I imagine the women who might wear my jewelry. I imagine them going out into the world, maybe to a fantastic night at the opera, so it’s very important to me that the pieces are bold and vibrant but ultimately really wearable.

“When I’m designing the pieces, I work with paper, because it’s much more direct. I can figure out the forms that are satisfying, and then I will cut a million pieces and start to form them or work on a bust I have in my studio.

“One of the neat things about being a jeweller is the connection between myself as the artist and another human being out there in the world. I love the idea that when I’m working, I’m building an imaginary connection with a person who is not there yet. And when it happens that someone acquires my work or I do see them wear it somewhere in the world, it’s a unique relationship, and I think that’s one of the most powerful things in my field.”

3. Clint Neufeld

Artist, Osler, Sask.

American Beauty, 2008

Ceramic and acrylic

American Beauty, 2008

“You develop an intuition of what’s going to work and what’s not. I still get these moments where I think, This is the worst idea ever, but the trick is working through those and completing the work.

“When I was at school, I was always a bit suspect of this idea of artistic intuition. It always seemed a bit flaky to me. But over time and with practice, you learn to trust your initial impulses. I often find my best work comes out of impulses I’m not sure I’ve completely thought through.

“Some of these projects will take a year. And I’ll have that moment of completion I look forward to, when that last piece goes on and the piece looks like what I thought it would be. Or more than what I thought it would be.

“It’s that anticipation of the completion of the object that is one of the big motivating factors for me. Artists tend to be relatively narcissistic. I’m not trying to sound like a jerk, but when artists do things they are happy with, there’s a certain amount of honesty in their production, and that really translates for people who are looking at it. I think if I make something I’m not happy with, no one else can be happy with it either.”

4. Sonny Assu

Interdisciplinary artist, Vancouver

TAG #1 public art project, 2013

Porcelain and enamel

TAG #1 public art project, 2013

“It’s called Tag in reference to tagging culture. I was referencing the graffiti that used to be there but also using these Northwest Coast shapes to retag the landscape…for the indigenous people who still inhabit this place. There’s some strong commentary behind all of my work, but a lot of it is also being fun and having people appreciate it for its aesthetic qualities.

“I definitely have an understanding of what the images mean to me and the concepts behind them–the political or social or satirical commentary–but once they get into someone else’s home or collection, they live their lives as different entities.”

5. Scott Bodaly

Designer, The National Design Collective, Toronto

Urban BeeHive, 2015

Cedar, maple plywood and stainless steel

Urban BeeHive, 2015

“There were two clients for this–the bees, who were the internal clients–and anyone who would want the hive on their rooftop or in their garden. I had to balance those two needs. We looked for inspiration. Water towers came up…it was kind of an ‘aha!’ moment. I really like it when the form and the function go together, where every piece on it is functional, but it’s also formed to look nice.

“It might sound vain, but I love how it looks. It’s a really strong form, and it has such a strong graphic presence that people just look at it and say, ‘What is that?’”

6. Hilary Hayes and Tim Richards Designers, South Street

Boatbuilders, Toronto

Hunt coffee table, 2015

Ash, cord and beeswax

Hunt coffee table, 2015

Richards: “Our philosophy is always to have a story behind the pieces. When I was a kid, my uncle raced dogsleds. That was a formative experience. Seeing how the simplest of machines could be used to conquer natural obstacles was really inspiring.

“The overall outline of an idea might be more or less fully formed, but it still takes work to figure out how it’s made. As you’re going forward, each decision is influenced by the concept, and the restriction of the materials and the tools.

“When you see it’s going to work, there’s a sense of relief and satisfaction that comes from realizing something–from taking something that was previously a loose image or a dream and making it into something that will work in the real world.”

7. Farzam Fallah

Pastry chef, Richmond Station, Toronto

Milk Chocolate Mousse, 2015

Saffron-brined egg yolk, rose bubbles, coriander almond dukkah, shiraz syrup, cardamom dust and espresso cake

Milk Chocolate Mousse, 2015

“When a person eats dessert, they should be entertained. It is the dessert’s job to get to the table and keep the conversation going and keep the person as excited as when they entered the restaurant. And it should bring them some kind of nostalgia, whether it’s taking them back to their childhood or reminding them of something that was good. Dessert should be sweet. Not in the literal sense but just as in being happy.

“I want my creations to make a statement. I don’t want people just to eat it and be like, ‘OK, that was tasty.’ I’ve always been a guy who has painted on a massive canvas–I’ve always liked to be loud. I think I’m just having more fun with my approach, and I’m not letting recipes get in my way. I’m simply doing what I feel like.”

8. Mark Reuten

Boatbuilder, Nomad

Ugo Canoe, 2009

Western red cedar, Alaskan yellow cedar, black locust, copper, brass and bronze

Ugo Canoe, 2009

“There are some very common popular designs out there. Even with plans laid out nicely and patterns for all the parts, if you get a dozen different builders, you’d be amazed at how different each one is. The moment I start cutting wood, it’s my boat.

"I like to think of these as functional objects as well as beautiful ones. A lot of times, I don’t hear back from the new owner about how the boat is doing. It’s very common for me to never see my creations again. It’s a funny feeling. It’s part of the job, like a farmer who has to slaughter their pig: You just hope the person who receives it will take care of it and get especially good use out of it. I’d rather see my boats go out and they’re destroyed from being used than never get used.”

9. Monica Adair and Stephen Kopp

Architects and founders, Acre Architects, Saint John, N.B.

Into the Wild, 2013

Reclaimed wood, glass and CorTen steel

Into the Wild, 2013

Adair: “You’re not just building a house but establishing a commitment to a city and to a place. We think a lot about place making and creating a sense of identity.

“We want our clients to believe they can live better. It takes guts to be a really good client because it’s hard to live up to those things you really say you want in life. We used to show a lot of options to clients, but for this project, we had a clear idea of what belonged to the site.

“Architecture takes a long time. You realize you only have about 40 projects in your life, big ones where you are intimately involved in people’s lives. You want to make those matter.”

10. Andrew Jones

Designer, Andrew Jones Design, Toronto

Sugar Beach Umbrellas, 2010

Steel and fibreglass

Sugar Beach Umbrellas, 2010

“I started by looking at hundreds, maybe thousands of photographs of beaches and beach umbrellas, and trying to capture the perfect image. I was really interested in the positive associations of umbrellas and beaches and great days we’ve all spent on beaches. It was about really trying to hit this perfect dream umbrella.

“As a designer, you can employ lots of tricks to make something that is incredibly strong seem incredibly ephemeral and light. The umbrellas are designed for hurricane winds, and making something that looks that thin that strong is really hard.

“There’s a trick: There are two fibreglass shells that at the middle have a real thickness to them, which gives them structure, but on the edge it tapers to a quarter of an inch. It looks like fabric, but there’s a lot of structure inside that you would never know about. I don’t want you to know–I just want you to see the dream.

“Designing is so much work, but you don’t want anyone to see the work in the end. You want that work to disappear.”