Nils Vik is hoping that he doesn't come across as one of those pretentious design guys. He doesn't, of course: The very fact that he is concerned suggests that his head is in perfect proportion to the rest of his body.
Vik is one half of Vik & Fougere, a Winnipeg-based design studio that was once half of the design collective Keep It Cartesian, a foursome formed with Ryan Litovitch and Kaley Lawrence, fellow classmates from the University of Manitoba's environmental-design program
In 2009, Keep It Cartesian presented a series of multi-purpose electrical faceplates at the IDS. One featured a hook for hanging keys; another extended downward with a small inward-facing shelf for cradling phones. They were all rather ingenious, marrying cool design with functional must-haves.
Litovitch and Lawrence opted to pursue different avenues but Vik and partner Thom Fougere knew they worked well together. "I would say that we're both pretty idealistic; however, Thom is more so," says Vik, 27.
"I probably come across as the one more okay with finishing things faster, whereas he pushes me to demand more out of my work. I have a more entrepreneurial bent and can deal with the manufacturers and prototype builders."
At this year's IDS, they will be unveiling a new prototype, their Bench Rack, which consists of a piece of local landfill-diverted elm connected to four legs and a sinuous rod in white powder-coated steel that doubles as a coat rack.
Anyone living in an apartment short on closets will quickly appreciate the space-saving benefits of the piece.
"We are interested in coming up with solutions to interactions we have in our environments," explains Fougere, 23. Ideally, they would like to see the Bench Rack go into production.
Vik underscores that they are not concerned with capturing an aesthetic. "A lot of stuff gets designed for the sake of being designed; it's kind of superfluous." This frame of mind also explains why they seem perfectly content to continue working from Winnipeg, even if it means being removed from all the activity in bigger design centres.
"There's something to be said for those cold, dark nights when you're bundled up in your apartment and scratching over the top of a drafting board," Fougere says. "It's forced inspiration." And for the design duo, it clearly seems to be working.