Furniture designer is the latest addition to author Douglas Coupland’s growing list of accomplishments.
The best-selling author teamed up with SwitzerCultCreative, a brother-sister luxury design collection, to create a line of furniture that is being unveiled at Toronto’s Interior Design Show this weekend.
When I first heard about the furniture line, I was curious about what you would be designing — couches, tables, ottomans? But looking at the collection, it makes perfect sense. It’s designed for creativity, for a writer, an artist. Why did you want to do this collection?
I’ve been using an escritoire for years and it’s the perfect thing for writing — its ergonomics — its closeability … and the fact that it feels slightly going-back-in-timeish to use one. It’s not a category anyone else on earth is doing right now.
What was the inspiration behind the collection? I know you spent time in Japan; did that experience influence this collection?
Aside from my own happiness with my own escritoire, my time in Japan was a big factor. In art school there, calligraphy is mandatory, and to do it properly, there’s a little bit of ritual involved … this desk does that perfectly, but it works for laptops as well as ink.
There seems to be a combination of order, chaos and calm to the collection. You can close the desk, you can slip the seat underneath, and the bookcases can be closed. You can work at them, but at the same time, you can “walk away,” take a break. Was this a consideration when you designed them?
I designed the bookshelves 17 years ago and have lived with them all that time, and pretty much every person who’s come into the house has asked me where I got them. It took a while for the penny to drop: these are really lovely functional bookcases that work in whatever combination you buy them in. Don’t buy a desk if you don’t need one, but the bookcases are pure gold. I sound like a catalogue, but it’s true. They’re crazy useful. And yes, you can close it all and walk away knowing everything’s safe. My own desk, under its closed door, is an absolute pigsty — and had I not revealed that to you now, no one on earth would ever know what a desk slob I am.
This seems like a collection for a writer, a scholar, a book lover…
What sort of things would you write about sitting at a desk like this?
Well I’m going to write what I’m going to write regardless. But there’s something intimate about these pieces that in turn fuels an intimacy in what’s written. I don’t think I could write much of what I do at home in a library carrel or a hotel room.
Coupland named the stackable shelves after shelving he saw that survived the 1995 Osaka earthquake. “Ninety-nine per cent of books are either paperback, hardcover or ‘oversize.’ Anyone’s book collection will fit snugly and easily into whatever configuration works for them.”
The lamps are available in floor and desk models with a checker-pattern shade made of wire and soji-type material. Coupland was inspired by the temple at Ryoanji in Kyoto. “The sliding doors there have a checkered pattern that melted my brain when I saw them. They’re perfect objects.”
“Four years ago, I broke my left leg quite badly and for four months I had to reconfigure my entire house. I saw an escritoire on Craigslist and thought: Hmmm … that might just work for me now. And it really did. This piece here is a perfection of my experience with this kind of desk,” says Coupland.
“I have memories of my calligraphy teacher in Sapporo hounding me about not slumping,” Coupland says about the seat, available in five colours. “To look at the picture, it looks kind of awkward, but when you sit in it, your body goes… oh, now I get it. It’s very comfy regardless of your body shape or size.”
The Douglas Coupland for SwitzerCultCreative collection is only available through SwitzerCultCreative — switzercultcreative.com