IDS11 and Prototype Design

Breezing through the exhibitor listing for the Interior Design Show (#IDS11), I stumbled upon the work of furniture designer Jean Willoughby. Amazing work—tactile, textured and titillating, whimsical and pragmatic work. I got all that from simply visiting her site. How fantastic it will be to see some of her furniture pieces up close on display at this week’s show.

Bar Stool


Jean is a Toronto-based furniture designer who, from what I gleaned from her minimalist site, has a work ethic that appears thoughtful and rigorous. As evidenced in her furniture creations, her oeuvre is a testament to her innovative and modern style. What has struck me is the human quality evoked in her work. I’m moved by her juxtaposing different materials and sculpting them into purposeful items we have all grown up with. I find utterly appealing these tensions between lightness vs weightiness, frivolity vs groundedness, cool vs warm, stern vs amusing, soft vs textured. Are these all extensions of her personality, her true person?



The Bar Stool and Side Table are tighly draped (though differently) in leather and appear flirty, sensual and even a bit couture. The concrete Cabinet with drawers is edgy and ingenious. The Stacking Chairs have an elegant construction of sand casted aluminum and wood with a wide seat. All are fresh takes on necessary items to behold. Lovely!

Side Table


Also to be noted here are the beautiful images that poetically capture the essence of this body of work and conceal the tremendous process of creation to completion. The furniture inhabit the space while its creator’s personality and expression decorate the room. Herein lies stories and secrets embedded in these pictures….

Stacking Chairs

I cannot wait to meet this designer. She is in dialogue with her work and it is her work that is speaking (with me). I also look forward to witness firsthand wonderful prototypes of novel design which, in my eyes, are superbly functional, strongly aesthetic and refreshingly welcoming. IDS here I come!

Addendum: On Trade Day, some of the most delightful and thoughtful design at IDS11 could be found in a dedicated section branded Prototype. Above, Natasha ARORA engages in an animated chat with Jean WILLOUGHBY, furniture designer, apropos her own prototype design.

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