Challenged with the task of transforming a phone booth into a new product for IDSwest 2009's Off the Hook Feature Exhibit, Contexture Design co-founders Nathan Lee and Trevor Coghill designed and built "Home Phone," a special project that explores the concepts of home and shelter, particularly as they relate to homelessness.
As cell phones become commonplace, public phone booths no longer line city streets. Fine for some, but the homeless rely on phone booths to connect with services and communities outside their own. Contexture views the loss of phone booths as a loss of public infrastructure in cities. Addressing the need for public phones and housing for the homeless, Contexture reworked the phone booth and created a small, stylish home - a "Home Phone" - in which a person can sleep, wash, read and write, stow belongings or make a phone call.
Lee and Coghill are not suggesting that the "Home Phone" is a feasible solution for homelessness; it is a project that provides an opportunity for discussion about the issue. Nonetheless, the "Home Phone's" numerous amenities, remarkable use of space and modern interior design provide it with many of the basic "comforts of home."
"We were very conscious in the design of this project not to stigmatize the homeless population" says Coghill. "Instead, we wanted to create a dignified and useful living space that would appeal to everyone."
"These booths could be set up in clusters, providing amenities for individuals while creating small communities through shared resources" says Lee. "Individual booths could be wired and plumbed through existing public infrastructure, much like a streetlight or water fountain while additional booths could be designed to provide communal kitchens and shared washrooms."
Given that all of Contexture's designs maintain a connection to their original source and are inspired by reclaimed materials with historical, cultural or environmental significance, the "Home Phone" perfectly complements their existing product line.
After being exhibited at IDSwest 2009 from September 17-19th, "Home Phone" was displayed at the Museum of Vancouver from October 6th-26th. It can currently be viewed, along with their other products, by appointment at Contexture's Downtown Eastside studio. An area hit hard by the loss of phone booths, the Downtown Eastside benefits from designers such as Contexture creating discussion around homeless issues through works such as the "Home Phone."
Contexture is an award winning Vancouver-based multidisciplinary design firm with departments in product design, fabrication, and graphic art and design. The firm's two designers, Nathan Lee and Trevor Coghill, are graduates of UBC's Landscape Architecture program and have been working together since 2005. Their work emphasizes simple, elegant and sustainable design, and is often inspired by reclaimed materials with historical, cultural or environmental significance. Respect for materials and dedication to sustainable design has earned Contexture a reputation for intelligent, well-made products with the smallest possible footprint.
Contexture products include a line of wooden accessories featuring the 'Coffee Cuff', made from reclaimed architectural veneers, the 'Fly-Like-a-Hot-Dang' wood and paper glider, a 'Mapbook' and a line of wildlife-themed hanging mobiles including 'As the Crow Files', 'Redfish', and 'Pollen Nation', all made from found maps. Contexture has also introduced a line of 'Cutout Cards' that are made out of the laser-cut leftovers from their collection of hanging mobiles.
Contexture Design has been featured in The New York Times Style Magazine, Spin, Plenty, Fashion Magazine, and the Globe and Mail, to name a few, and has appeared on CBC Radio and TV. Contexture has won numerous awards including 'Eco Designer of the Year' in the 2011 Western Living Design Awards , 'Ones to Watch' in the Western Living Designer of the Year Award in 2010, and the Design Exchange Award for Industrial Design in 2008 for their mobile, 'As the Crow Flies'. Additionally, Contexture has participated in design-related events such as IDSwest and the West Xprssd exhibit of emerging Western Canadian designers, and their work has been shown at the Museum of Vancouver and at the Royal Ontario Museum as part of the Toronto International Design Festival.
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