For Jason Stroud’s punk rock-meets-Posh Spice furniture and light fixtures – on display at his recently opened Toronto showroom – the designer scours junkyards, vintage shops and garage sales for raw goods (old signs, broken doll parts, scrap lumber). He retains the patina of what he digs up to create a sense of nostalgia, and adds grace with slick materials like steel and glass.
But the work – a chandelier made from century-old piano keys or a clean-lined bench with a salvaged timber top – draws its inspiration from an unlikely source: Stroud’s collection of kaiju: air-brushed, vinyl figurines of fantastical Japanese monsters. Here’s why he can’t get enough of the strange, colourful creatures:“Growing up I was fascinated by Japanese monster movies, but I didn’t pick up my first kaiju – an octopus wearing a suit, carrying a briefcase – until 2006, when a toy collector friend introduced me to the figurines. Since then, I’ve made two buying trips to Japan, and I’m going again in November. I also check toy forums, like skullbrain.org, daily, and I have a buying agent in Japan who helps me connect with dealers. So now I have over 500 pieces in my collection, including an original, 1966 Godzilla, which is often cited as being the first kaiju that started the craze. I display some of the collection in my showroom and the rest are in glass cabinets in my home. I’ve also used them directly in some of my work, including taking plastic casts of Mothra and turning it into a lamp. Moths are attracted to light, right? The figures inspire me because they are totally creative and colourful. They remind me to think outside of the box and that anything is possible. If a scale-covered monster with its brains popping out is possible, anything is.”