Canadian Garth Roberts is another designer whose accomplishments make you wonder how on earth one person can get so many things done in such little time. He was most recently awarded the Elle Decoration (France) Design Award for Best Furniture Piece of the Year (2006) for his Raw table (pictured above) which was first presented at his first ICFF offsite event in 2002. It is now being produced by Zanotta.
Garth divides his time between New York, Milan, and Berlin. He has collaborated with Zanotta, Design Torget, Fasem, Flou, and Donna Karan New York, and founded his own collective, Group Inc. for which he is the art director. He has worked with Jonathan Crinion, Jeffrey Bernett, Patricia Urquiola and...
For now I'll just say that I became a big fan of Garth's when he told me how he made the transition from design student to design professional: I decided to be a bike courier until I got my first full-time position...I interviewed on lunch breaks, using the bathrooms of the offices I delivered to as changing rooms to get into interview garb... A full interview with Garth will be featured at Three Layer Cake soon.
Sketch something you remember from your childhood.
My plastic fireman’s helmet: I think I never really wanted to be a fireman, but I sure loved that damned helmet…
If you could do it all over again, the one thing you wouldn't change.
Leaving Canada. Canada doesn’t support its design community [...this is not said relative to the support received by designers in the Netherlands, France or the UK…], meaning Canada really doesn’t value design’s contribution to Canadian society. This is reflected in the almost mute design culture of Canada. I am glad that I had the courage and was encouraged to expand my context of the world and humanity. Whether I had been a designer or an investment banker, this would have been, and is, of the utmost importance to my development as a person.
The best business advice you've been given.
Well I have been given a lot of advice and I must say that more than a bit of it was bad! But the best one that I have received would probably be…
Sometimes the best investment is to invest in yourself.
This was given to me after I had tanked some money on a multinational that had been charged with falsifying financial statements and so thereafter went under.
As a mentor, the most important concept you'd want a mentee to take away from your relationship.
...don’t be afraid of success…
…don’t be afraid to fail…sometimes it’s part of the process
In a design studio, money invested in ____ is always well spent.
Organization I think is the key. The less time you spend on office minutiae the more time you have to spend on the creative process. So I think it is good to try to minimize distractions of the day-to-day operational aspects of the studio as much as possible.
From Garth's porfolio:
Raw Table, 2006. Zanotta. Position of the table top can be set by the user for an all even (below) or staggered edge (intro).
ClassiCon Stand, Salone del Mobile, 2006.
With a Delicacy place setting in polished brass the diner focuses on quality not quantity. Produced for exhibit Value Meal: Design and (over)Eating at the 2004 International Design Biennale in St. Etienne, France.
PS Side Table by Fasem, 2005. Selected as one of the 50 most interesting projects of 2005 by ID Magazine.) Leather embellished top, chrome legs. Available also in rectangular form.
Reminisce runner and placemats, Group Inc 2003. Nothing like eating alone with one of these single placemats to remind you that dining with friends is a more complete experience!