Interview with Thom Fougere Studio

Interview: Thom Fougere

Posted by Craig Pearce on

Recently every morning and every evening, Thom Fougere takes a walk through the park near his house. "I find that starting and ending a day that way is a very therapeutic and relaxing ritual.” Thom, a Canadian designer and Winnipeg native, has earned several accolades for his work while carving himself a prominent place in the country’s design landscape.
While Thom’s work, including a decade-long stint as Creative Director for EQ3, has brought him to multiple cities, he’s called the Prairies home until his recent relocation to Montreal. Slowing down to appreciate the understated beauty of his hometown has played an integral part of Thom’s design process and inspiration.
Since the GOODLAND ethos is about a slower more considered life, we were obviously thrilled to partner up with Thom, to dream up and design some pieces. Thom spoke with us over the phone about his design process and ways in which he engages in nature—both in his work and personal life.


What inspired you to want to become a designer?

T:  I think I’ve always had a fascination with creating spaces and things from an early age but didn’t know where to put that energy. Once I learned about architects and what they did, I became very interested in that world. While architecture became the obvious route for me, I was also into film, photography, and writing.

You’ve said that the "overlooked beauty" of the Prairies is what interests you. Can you elaborate on that?

T:  I think a lot of my work as a designer is seeing and looking at things; and I feel like that is sharpened by living in the Prairies. Because it’s slower, you look at things with eyes that you might not if you’re in a busy city. There’s a very subdued beauty to the Prairies that really speaks to me and has informed my work extensively.


What influenced you to live and base your work out of where you grew up?

T: Like most people, I always thought of Scandinavia, Italy, or New York as being these creative epicentres where all the interesting design work material happens. But after traveling for my work extensively, I began to see that there’s a lot of really special, exotic things in the Canadian prairies right in front of me.


How does our connection to nature play a role in your work?

T: I think now more than ever, people are interested in and excited by things that are more physical and inhabit the world, especially with everything being consumed over social media and digital imagery.

I did a long study on fire and the hearth and man's relationship to it for some clients I designed fire tools for in Toronto, and I found it to be such a rewarding process. The result was interesting as well, thinking about fire and our relationship to it.


You like to design pieces that are meant last a long time and be handed down. Why is this important to you?

T:  I think there’s a certain honesty to materials that improve with use and age. I think humans have these connections to objects and their surroundings, and if they become enhanced with age and life, they tell their own story over time. Those are the kinds of things that really excite and interest me.


Obviously we’re fans of bathing culture over here. How does it resonate with you?

T:  It’s always something I’ve been interested in. I discovered this magazine, Wet, that was published in the eighties and devoted solely to gourmet bathing. I also had some pretty impactful experiences in Japan that relate to bathing, a connection to nature and the built world, and slowing down.

For whatever reason, there’s this instinctive, human side to bathing that’s often overlooked, so it was a really interesting area to meditate on one's relationship to water and bathing for the products designed with GOODLAND.


What are some ways in which you engage with nature?

T:  I start every day with a walk to a park that’s by my place and end the day there too. I find that all the emails and social media can muddy the day-to-day so I find it really important to do that.

[When I’m walking], I’m either thinking of problems I need to solve that day or just walking by a river and seeing how much the vegetation has grown from last week. A lot of my travels are based around searching for experiences like that in other areas of Canada and around the world.


What inspired you to come on board and collaborate with GOODLAND?

T: When Craig told me how GOODLAND is inspired by our heightened connection to nature, I was immediately thrilled to hear that because it’s a topic that I’ve been thinking about fairly extensively over the past couple years. The whole idea really speaks to me and my work at large and where it’s going.


Can you tell us about some of the products you designed?

T: There’s a hot tub that I helped consult on the design of as well as a series of accessories meant for bathing in nature off the grid. While these objects themselves are functional, they could be seen as banal objects, like the Ash Scoop to clean out the stovebox or a bucket to wash your feet off before entering the bath. Each of the pieces are meant to be sculptural and beautiful on their own, like pieces of artwork that are meant to be used. I’m very excited about them all.


Has the 'new normal' created any changes to your own rituals and work habits?

T:  I’m a slow worker, I like to think things through and give them the time that they need. Working with GOODLAND on this project has been pleasant because there’s been room for that and I think the work is that much richer.


In your opinion, how do you think the pandemic has shifted peoples’ lifestyles?

T: I do think this ‘forced slowdown’ has given room for people, whether they know it or not, to look their home and environment with fresh and more thoughtful eyes, and look at the subtleties. I think there is an audience for such a niche thing that is bathing off the grid, in a wood-fired bath and making an experience out of it. I am optimistic that people may have these little ceremonies in their lives post-pandemic as well.


Go down the rabbit hole of more beautiful work by Thom Fougere Studio or follow along with his passion and inspiration via @thomfougere.

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