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Simply Original

Natasha Evdokimoff Elemente Magazine
Simply Original

Ford seeks balance of elements in designs aimed at calm

When Shaun Ford answered my call about meeting for an interview, I thought for a second maybe I had the wrong guy: the voice was brimming with enthusiasm, sounding more like a California wave rider fresh out of the surf than the lead designer and president of one of Calgary’s up and coming creative shops.

And when we sat down over coffee on a hot July afternoon, I could see my surfer estimation wasn’t too far off the mark. Just 30, Ford has the shaggy blonde locks and bronzed skin betrayed only by the clearly artistic bent to his personality, and the passionate way he speaks when it comes to his creative work in residential design, renovations, outdoor structures, home furnishings and accessories.
“I always knew I had an artistic side, but I can’t draw or anything,” Ford says casually. “I have a sense of style, I guess. I understand design. I know what works and I can convey to other people what I envision.”

Calling his aesthetic “Industrial Zen,” Ford’s designs are a fusion of metal, light and organic materials. There’s an obvious Asian influence in the work, bolstered by regular excursions to the Far East where Ford sources materials and hunts for unique artwork to sell out of his studio.

“When I look at Asian pieces, there’s a feeling they emit that’s very calming,” says Ford, whose Shaun Ford Design has grown almost exclusively through word of mouth. “The use of natural elements – sticks, water, bamboo; the simple beauty of those things really appeals to me.”

Influences that, along with the tutelage he received by growing up in his mother’s Calgary‑based home art studio of his mother, have led to two successful businesses and a portfolio striking pieces ranging from dining sets to cast iron fire pits.

But the foray into the design world started with Decks in the City, a company that specializes in creating custom outdoor living spaces and landscaping features and has won Best in Show at the Calgary Home and Garden exhibition the last four years running – a fateful intersection of talent and opportunity that led to the founding of SFD in 2005, after Decks in the City completed an outdoor living space in Chestermere that Ford recalls as “a masterpiece of carpentry., “When it was done, the clients put a run of the mill patio furniture set on it which totally diminished the look of the finished product. I never wanted to see that happen again, so I began offering custom designed pieces to enhance the deck projects.”

Hence the contrast between the peaceful, calming aesthetic Ford’s designs carry and the weightiness much of his work conveys. Many of his pieces are large scale, comprising copious amounts of metal, brick, stone or concrete, yet soothing. Such as the Blue Steel Spa, an 82” x 94” square hot tub Ford designed. Based on the concept of a Japanese barrel spa, the piece incorporates a pair of mahogany benches that comfortably seat two each and release a hypnotic, woodsy aroma through the steaming water. The exterior is made of stainless steel and a backlit resin overlaid with bamboo. Taking almost a year to complete, the finished product speaks for itself – a fresh take on a standard and rather dull residential amenity.