Product and furniture designer, and ‘Lucid Ideas’ exhibitor Annaka Hoelk tells us about her connections to the environment and how that influences her practice.
How would you describe your profession and your practice?
I am a recent graduate from Emily Carr University of Art + Design with a Bachelor of Design in Industrial Design. My practice includes lighting, furniture and products, and is rooted in simplicity of form, quality of detailing, and a refined approach to colour and light. I believe that designing well-made, thoughtful, and useful objects that people actually want to keep is one of the best ways to slow our wastefulness, and should be made a bigger focus on the path to sustainability in design. Relatedly, much of my work stems from the belief that good design connects us more deeply to our environment, whether built or natural, and strives to enhance the relationships between object, space and user, as a way of building durable connections to our things.
What was your “eureka!” moment that made you realize that art/design was the route you wanted to take?
Having grown up in a family of architects and interior designers, with an artist for a mother, discussion about furniture, design and living well were a constant presence in my childhood. If you grow up with an understanding of how much the spaces we inhabit and the objects we use affect our lives, it’s hard to think about doing anything else, frankly.
Is your work inspired by anything in particular? What turns you on creatively?
I love working in the spaces where function and beauty collide with just a hint of sculpture, which is why I think I’ve always had a bit of a penchant for lighting. I also love playing with the idea of visual literacy: challenging the recognized or expected form of an object, referencing design history, or using material in an unexpected way. I believe that every design should have some aspect that anyone could grab onto and understand while simultaneously flipping that very convention on its head.
Which designers or artists inspire you and why?
Too many to count: Isamu Noguchi, Ingo Maurer, Tadao Ando, James Turrell, Matisse, Cy Twombly, Helen Frankenthaler, Olafur Eliasson, Daniel Roseberry, Eileen Gray… the list goes on. It’s hard to say why I’m drawn to certain people’s work other than to say that it is incredibly beautiful and is complete in every sense.
What is the name of your 2024 DesignTO Festival exhibition and what can attendees expect to experience?
My ‘Paynes Vase/Organizer’ will be part of the DesignTO x Umbra Prototype Exhibition, ‘Lucid Ideas.’ It is a new design that is meant to be functional in two ways (as an Ikebana-inspired flower vase or as a desk organizer), but remains a sculptural and intriguing object that suits being on display in your home.
How long have you been involved with DesignTO? Why is DesignTO important to the creative community, here and abroad?
This will be my first year involved in DesignTO, but I believe all design exhibitions, open calls, community/brand partnerships, and festivals are incredibly valuable to the greater design community, especially here in Canada where design can often feel under-represented. I’m very passionate about any endeavour that grows the Canadian design community.
Showcasing the work of designers from Canada and abroad, ‘Lucid Ideas’ is a group prototype exhibition exploring translucency through concept, material and form.
Designers include Annaka Hoelk, Atelier Fomenta (Florence Barnabé, Julia Arvelo and Muriel Bentolila), Hsiao-Chien Hung, Lara Knutson Studio, Jordi Lopez Aguilo, Mark Malecki, NONUMENT (Dom Cheng & Fallon Robar), Polymetis (Michaela MacLeod & Nicholas Croft), Stephanie Singh, Kenyon Yeh.