Form or function? It is a debate that has been going on ever since humans start making things. Is an aesthetically pleasing object worth it if it doesn’t perform? Is a well-performing object worth having if it if it looks awkward or badly designed?
“Function is always the top priority, but what I think really elevates a design is the subtle details,” says furniture designer Adrian Heim. “When the overall form is simple and refined but there are fine elements that only reveal themselves upon closer inspection, that can set a design apart from the rest.” Heim, based in Victoria, B.C., looks to marry form and function in his bespoke furniture. He has a background in sculpture and completed a BFA in visual arts at the University of Victoria on Vancouver Island before turning his hand to furniture design and building.
Heim’s designs are simple in the best way, —the forms of the chairs and stools he makes look gentle and well put together, a reflection of the natural state of the wood they are composed of. But this simplicity is deceptive, and intentional.
“I spent most of my time [during my BFA] in the woodshop deconstructing old pieces of furniture and reassembling them in different ways to create my work. At a certain point, I realized that what I really wanted to do was to actually make furniture for people to use rather than make art for a gallery setting,” he says. “I think designing and building furniture is a great way to explore my creative ideas while making functional pieces that meet people’s needs and will elicit joy in them as well.”
Heim Furniture creates one-off commissions for customers, using sustainable North American wood, much of it sourced from Vancouver Island. Within a competitive custom furniture scene, Heim takes on a variety of projects that allow him to test himself as a designer and builder.
Based on the feedback at the International Design Show Vancouver in September, Heim is looking toward developing a line of well-tested, proven designs to offer alongside his continuing commissioned work, including a full house project he recently viewed. “It’s pretty exciting to be involved in something like this from such an early stage,” he says. “It’s a cool opportunity to think about design on a larger scale and consider how the different pieces will relate to each other in the space. I’m really looking forward to seeing how it all comes together.”
Photography By Oliver Brooks.