Member Since 2010
Name: TOMA by Anne Thomas?
Location: Montreal, Canada?
Product: Hangers and Footwear Mats
Anne Thomas, the founder of the Montreal-based design firm TOMA Objects, wants to help you live a better, more enjoyable life. As TOMA’s website says of its design philosophy “everyday objects have fun.” Which isn’t to say that they’re not eminently practical. From TOMA’s hangers, which hold mitts and scarves as well as coats, to her funky footwear mats, she and her team are ensuring that the function includes fun.
What inspired you to create these hangers and footwear mats?
Since we were presenting them in Japan (at DesignTide Tokyo 2009) we wanted to mix Canadian and Japanese nature and crafts.
How were they made?
The hangers are made of the best quality birch Russian plywood and the footwear mats are made of polyethylene foam.
What was the big aha! you had while creating these products?
As both designers on the project and graphic designers, we were excited to see that very graphic and simple shapes can be very strong and practical.
Can you describe your creative process?
It always starts from a personal need or a flash I have. Then I brainstorm with a small team. Then we work, do research, try various materials, and work some more until we have something interesting. Then we start making prototypes. All through the process, we have boxes of things that inspire us. We look at these things and we then do a collage that we pin on the wall of our conference room. It’s important to adapt a material or put a material to a different use—for example, the footwear mats are made from a material that’s usually used to make the soles of waterproof boots.
What do you love about what you do?
Everything. But what I love best is when I receive an email from a customer to thank me for something that she’s just bought and that she’s enjoying and using and getting compliments on. That’s the best reward.
How would you sum up your aesthetic/design philosophy?
Function, design, graphic, material, simplicity.
What are you working on next?
We’re adding new colors and materials to our Inside Out collection—i.e. trivets and hangers in teak and other precious woods. We’re also working on a new version of the umbrella stand that’s more compact and less heavy. And lots of new things.
What would you like to do other than your current occupation?
I would like to travel the world to pick objects for major stores or organizations.