Q&A with Castor Design

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Castor, the unique Toronto-based design firm who never seem to disappoint聽when it comes to consistently聽pushing design boundaries with their creative and inspirational ideas.

The firm was founded in 2006 by聽Kei Ng and Brian Richer,聽with聽their backgrounds ranging from architecture聽and set design to stone carving.

Can you tell me a bit about your company, and the kind of work you do?

As Castor, we have worked on numerous interiors projects, custom lighting and furniture design,
public art commissions and launched a range of products. Our backgrounds range from architecture
and set design to stone carving. Part of our design approach is driven by the constraints of
discarded, forgotten materials to form elegant new products sympathetic to the original history of
the components.

Our passion for food and bands inspired us to open Parts & Labour Restaurant in Toronto. We
designed the space using some of our own products and developed new ones such as the spring
stool. We showcase punk and rock bands in the basement and fine dining upstairs.

For someone unfamiliar with Castor’s design culture and aesthetic, how would you describe
yourselves

I guess we have a bit of the punk sensibility with a sense of humour. Some one once said described
our work as Ribald Yokelism – we always liked that. We try not to take things so seriously even
though we are running a business and sell around the world. We like to design things with a story or
some kind of hook – we feel it makes the design more personal.

Tell me a little more about Parts & Labour, and how your idea for a restaurant came into play?

We owned a restaurant called Oddfellows. It became a hang-out for local bands and artists but our
menu was basically fine dining. Parts & Labour is an extension of Oddfellows – Oddfellows on acid.
A聽place that offers 50 dollar entrees and 5 dollar punk shows. The crowd is very diverse – punks mixing
with upper middle class patrons.

Who are your biggest design influences?

We are not trained designers and this may be a virtue sometimes. We look for influences not just
from the design world but from literature (the Invisible Chandelier was inspired from a Ralph Ellison
novel), architecture and music. One of our lights – Not a Fucking Droog Light, Light – is designed around
guitar pedals and we thought it would be nice lighting for roadies. Why should the band get all the
attention – roadies do all the work.

How do you keep a sense of unpredictability in your work after the past few years?

Predictability is for kids.

What’s in store for 2012?

We have just launched a new collection 鈥 Deadstock. We also pressed an album as part of our
marketing (called Deadstock). It is a compilation of the best Toronto bands and us talking about
design between songs. It works great as marketing tool because everyone still uses record players.


The Deadstock series was inspired when we found stock of unused steel components in a defunct
lighting factory in Toronto. The old lamp parts were discovered in dust-covered boxes that had not
been touched for 30 years. The series forms a collection of six products including various lights and
a totally unique marble coffee and side table, all with the trademark industrial edge combined with
the quality of refined innovative design. Each new product combines simple movement within the
parts to provide options for angle of light, look and use.

We are also working a new line right now based on mathematical proofs. Math is the new black.

A big thanks to Kei and Brian for their time and contribution to this piece.

Learn more about Castor @ castordesign.ca

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