The Weathered Project: Utility

The Weathered Project was created to celebrate style, individuality, creativity and raw denim. No other item of clothing will visually evolve and shape as uniquely to your body quite like raw indigo denim; your life becomes marked, torn and faded into the fabric over time providing a visual diary of your daily activities. During this project we will be documenting the journey of several individuals as they break in their raw jeans over the course of 16 months; observing how they work, what drives them and how this uniquely affects their raw denim wears. Join us on this journey of discovery with your own raw denim! #weatheredproject

Welcome to the second chapter of The Weathered Project: Utility.  Char Kennedy is one of Vancouver’s up and coming industrial designers and our second participant in The Weathered Project. We invited Char into our Vancouver store to get kitted out with a killer pair of raw jeans and caught up with her at her studio space at Maker Labs to learn about her journey.

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How did you find your dutil. fitting and which jeans did you end up choosing?
It was good to have the dutil. staff pick out jeans for me; ones that I wouldn’t normally know about or try. They chose jeans in terms of how they felt they would fit my body and honestly they all fit really well. Usually I try on jeans and I can’t get them over my hips as I’ve picked the wrong size but they seemed to know what would work. It just came down to choosing which pair would be most appropriate. What I like about the Nudie Pipe Led’s is that they are very durable but still have stretch to them which will be great for biking and work. These are also much more female-shaped than previous Nudie Jeans I’ve purchased which I find more flattering.

Since graduating from Emily Carr just over a year ago, your work has been published in multiple publications and design blogs, you exhibited at the IDS Show West 2014 and continue to gain traction with your work. What do you think has made you successful since graduating as a designer?
Being open to opportunities, collaborating with others locally or getting to know people and saying yes to things that you might not think would have immediate success, because that kind of work has actually often lead to success further down the road. Especially little projects that push your design abilities. For example, I worked on a project for Absolut Vodka with Jacquie Shaw who commissioned us to design handles for their bottles and then they ended up posting our project on their instagram. So that was a great little project that lead to a lot of coverage for us.

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How would you define yourself as a designer and how does your personality affect your approach to design?
I am a curious person, I enjoy playing with materials and understanding how things work. I think that drives my desire to design. I like to keep busy so it’s a good industry to be in if you like to be active. I enjoy working on projects because you are always researching different areas and you get to learn about things that you perhaps wouldn’t otherwise and often have to learn quickly on your feet.

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What have been your biggest challenges as a designer?
One key challenge is designing something that can be produced. A designer has to consider how the product can either be made locally or overseas, while maintaining your values and remaining competitive with the low market costs of mass produced good.
Finding steady work can be tricky. It’s always a bit of a struggle to get projects and keep yourself going, but I have found great opportunities along the way. I think there’s a bit of discouragement after school regarding staying in Vancouver regarding how it can be difficult finding work in design, but I do think there are areas of opportunity where design is needed, so it’s great to find those. I actually think Vancouver is in an exciting spot right now in terms of design.

What’s been your favourite project to work on?
The Pop Up Affair was a self directed project that myself and few other creatives did after university. That was a really great project because we were producing our own objects as well as putting together a show and art directing the whole thing. It was a great collaboration, We all worked really well together and brought different strengths to the table. We all pushed ourselves and each other significantly. It was nice to do that, especially when it’s on your own terms and not for someone else.

Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration in the everyday and observing. Everyday people give me inspiration for my work so watching how people interact in spaces and use spaces in interesting ways is an inspiration. As a designer you are able to help shape that. I also love travelling and that is obviously an inspiration.

How have your travels changed or altered your approach to design if at all?
Travelling opens your eyes to a new way of living and you’re taken out of your comfort zone, I think it’s good to see things in a different way. We think of design here as being a the polished end product that we often see magazines. But design is all over the place. In India, for example, seeing how they build their spaces and ride their bikes and all the different methods of getting around day to day is quite amazing. It’s not the same polished design but it’s still pretty remarkable. The furniture that they use and the tiny spaces that people cram into doesn’t affect them at all. They use the space so beautifully.

When you’re not in the studio or at work, what do you do with you spare time?
If I have a full day off I’ll usually go on a hike or camping get outside. I also enjoy riding my bike around or going swimming in a lake.

Is there a key message that you try to convey with your work?
I want to try and be as sustainable as possible and provide a product that is not just a useless piece of garbage, basically. You want the way that people use their objects to positively shape their life, so that’s basically what I try and do.

What are you working on right now?
I’m designing a space for an Ice Cream shop and some clothing racks for Hey Jude clothing shop. I also make and sell the Grip Candle Holders.

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Grip_CandleHolder47_1340_c(Contact Char to order the Grip Candle Holders )

Where do you see the future of Char Kennedy
I would like to work for myself but I feel I need to get a bit more experience working for other people. In the near future I hope to continue to do my own projects.

Do you enjoy what you do? What would you be doing if it wasn’t design?
I love what I do. Whether or not you’re making money out of it, you just do what you do. because it brings you a lot of enjoyment and that’s the way your mind thinks.

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