People

Deagan McDonald

i. I work as : a furniture and product designer, working primarily with wood. My wife Kelsey and I founded Origins back in 2015 as a bit of an evening/weekend hobby (we were both working full time otherwise) and as a platform to discover our own voices in design. It has since evolved to a dedicated studio space and small product line; we first opened the doors to our studio in May of 2019, so our first year has been unpredictable to say the least.

ii. I do this creative work because:
To have found a creative outlet I love is one thing, to build it as a business has been an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything.

iii. A ‘typical’ day for me under Covid lockdown involves:
We are very privileged to have our own dedicated studio space and handle most of our manufacturing in-house.  Our days start early, we walk about 40 min to and from the studio each day. We are able to work in total isolation here, though we’ve had to make some changes to the way we deal with client meetings, supplier deliveries, and any other critical interactions we need to make to keep the business running. For the most part we’ve been able to translate everything to the digital world, but at the end of the day we are producing physical products that require physical inputs.

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iv. Personal qualities that help me in my work are:
This type of work requires an intensely detailed focus while also keeping an eye on the broader strokes, bigger picture. It’s a balance I haven’t found quite yet, but I’m working on it.

v. The greatest challenges around doing this work are:
The perceived value of furniture has been trampled by imported products from massive manufacturers and production in countries with outrageously low wages. The market is flooded with products that are cheaply produced and widely considered ‘disposable’ or ‘consumable’ because of their low price point and overall quality.

We build our pieces from premium materials that will last for generations, but the price point for this type of work comes as a surprise to most people. We simply can’t compete when you factor in the cost of the raw materials and the labor/overhead costs of operating here in Vancouver. The clients that we are very fortunate to have understand the value of products that are both designed and made locally, with sustainable materials.

vi. Creative childhood hobbies:
I was pretty interested in anything crafty or hands on, whatever the medium was.  I also had quite a collection of scale models in various stages of completion/hybridization.

Conceptual Architecture 

vii. Other creators who inspire you:
Norm Architects, Naoto Fukasawa, CJ Hendry

viii. Training that has helped me in this career:
Kelsey and I both completed our Masters of Architecture at the University of Toronto. Although not directly suited to woodworking, the design methods and approaches used are broadly applicable. Architecture exposed us to an exciting range of software and technology that we have been able to leverage in ways that are non-traditional to woodworking.

ix. A common trap that can hurt people in this career:
Spending too much time comparing your work with others. We’re certainly guilty of it at times, and I think it applies to every creative arena.

x. Some proud career moments:
We were chosen as “Ones to Watch” in the Maker category of the 2019 Western Living Designer of the Year Awards.

This year we have been selected as finalists in both the Furniture and Industrial Design categories; the results will be announced in September.

xi. Upcoming shows or events include:
Nothing planned for the moment, COVID has drastically changed the way that trade shows and larger exhibitions will be operating in the coming years.

xii. If you want to work in my field, I suggest that you:
Talk to as many people in the industry as humanly possible. Absorb as much as you can about the non-glamorous sides of the business and the day to day operations and challenges. Pretty pictures on the internet are not a good source of market research.

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xiii. A professional goal I have for the future:
The feeling of having your work commissioned by a client is something really special. I don’t think that feeling will grow old anytime soon, so our goal is to always exceed their expectations.

xiv. If you want to see my work, go to:

www.origins.work

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/origins.work/

 

www.creatorsvancouver.com

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