artist in residence - clay stang

In my day to day life I get to meet some pretty interesting people. People who are following their dreams and pursuing their goals to be artisans, craftspeople, and artists. Many of these people are finding a way to make their true passion an integral part of their lives whether as a career or as a serious side business. I thought it might be interesting to dedicate a post once in while to these people who are following their heart and making it work. I thought I would call the series Artist in Residence. First up is one of my neighbours, Clay Stang a talented photographer and now budding woodworker and industrial designer.

Lounge Chair created with the upholstering help of Martin Kapustianyk.

Clay, I know you primarily as a photographer how did you get started with this new line of work?

My father was a finishing carpenter/cabinet maker so I’ve been around carpentry most of my life. When I lived out west I would design furniture and my father and I would build it together. We’ve built coffee tables and a sofa and numerous little projects along the way. When entering art college I tried doing a double major in photography and sculpture. In the end I had to choose a direction and photography won. With photography I’m constantly problem solving and trying to come up with new ideas and solutions. Wood working feels like an extension of that.

Customized industrial drafting lamp w/cloth wrapped cord.

How would you describe your aesthetic? Where do you get your influences from?

I think my wood working is actually similar to my photography. I’m committed to simplicity and modernism with accents that highlight vintage repurposed elements. When I’m needing inspiration – I like to hit art galleries. We recently were in San Francisco and visited SFMOMA. Seeing the modern California artists like Barry McGee and Margaret Kilgallen was really impressive. The inspiration is never a direct translation but its usually a spark. A use of colour or unusual design that triggers an idea in my work.

Also found objects are a big influence. My lovely wife Liz and I own a vintage store and I sometimes find myself staring at an object for a long time because I know somewhere in that object is a table, bench or light fixture.

Beam bench, mid century legs with canvas hammock.

Take us through a bit of your design process? Where does an object begin and where does it end up?

I like to incorporate a found object in my design. And I tend to be influenced by the object itself. I always begin sketching and from the sketch comes the solutions. Once the final sketch is finished, I start building & sourcing material. Repurposing an item from the trash and creating something functional & new is really rewarding.

Where can we find your work? Do you take custom orders?

You can find a selection of work at The Arthur and here. And yes I take custom orders.

Ipad docks

Where would you like to see this new line of work take you?

That's simple; a balance. I love photography and am incredibly lucky to have a career in it. Since the digital age I find myself spending a lot of time in front of a computer. Woodworking is physical. Both professions are creative but in some ways they work different parts of the brain. One also informs the other. My relationship with space is considered in both but it's the way in which I manipulate the space that gives me the Balance.

Finally, what are you hoping Santa brings you this holiday season?

There are days when I want so much more and there are days when I recognize what I have is more than enough. Today I’m full. However my son Otis wants a transformer costume, So Santa if you’re reading this...


If you think you might be a good fit for this new running series on my blog drop me a line, with the subject "artist in residence" and tell me a little about what you do.


All photographs by Clay Stang.



the carroll street woodworkers

Do you remember this beautiful custom made dresser from the Hello! Neighbor tour we did of Mahshad & Hasnain's house a few months ago?Many of you were asking for more information about it and I'm happy to say that this weekend I finally got the chance to meet the talented pair behind this piece of furniture . Rob Day and Jeremy Kehoe are the founders of The Carroll Street Woodworkers a local design studio that is producing some of the most beautiful and innovative products I have seen in awhile. On Saturday, I visited their studio and got to see a preview of some of the pieces they will be debuting at the Interior Design Show this weekend. On the wall behind Rob is a wood block sculpture that is made from all the scraps and off-cuts from their furniture products. In total it took somewhere in the neighbourhood of 1500 pieces of wood to make this sculpture. On the floor, is their new lath coffee table which is made from the discarded lath you find in old houses. These days they tend to get the lath by putting a request for it on craigslist but they have been known to do a little dumpster diving if they see it being thrown away!

The oiled white oak dresser shown above, is one of the new pieces the pair will be debuting at the Interior Design Show, it works on a push button system the likes of which I have never see before. To open a drawer you simply press on the appropriate button in the middle panel and the unit slowly slides out. Brilliant - no need for any hardware!

Also debuting at the show is this push button desk. The three elliptical shapes on the face of the desk pop open to reveal individual compartments in which to store your pencils, pens, and notes. An electrical outlet on the side of the desk keeps electronic cords to a minimum with the wiring running down inside the leg of the desk. Can you imagine having a desktop free of all those pesky wires?

Finally, I couldn't leave without showing you these stunning light fixtures. What a statement they would make in your hallway vestibule or how about over a round dining room table? It is one of a kind pieces like these that really put the magic in an interior.

Thanks Rob and Jeremy for the tour! If you're attending the Interior Design Show in Toronto this weekend I urge you to stop by Studio North and say hello to these guys. You won't be disappointed.

Image Credits:
1) Kristin Sjaarda
2-6) The Marion House Book
7-8) The Carroll Street Woodworkers