cofo toronto

Toronto company is doing high-end furniture by local designers

Fresh grads and budding furniture designers are getting a chance to showcase their creativty through a company that helps them build and sell their work. 

COFO—short for Cofounders—is a local studio that accepts designs from emerging Toronto talent through an annual competition. 

Choosing submissions from entry-level designers, students, and recent grads from interior or industrial design programs, COFO founders Desmond Chan and Randy Simmen have already produced one full collection 0f six furniture designs since launching in late 2017. 

"The whole goal for us is to put Canadian design on a platform and also give emerging designers the opportunity to see their designs in real life," says Chan. 

Those who apply to their design challenge are judged by criteria like style, originality, functionality, innovation, and social and environmental responsibility. 

Chosen designers are awarded $500, and have their pieces produced by Visual Elements, a manufacturer in Vaughan (co-owned by Simmen's dad John) which has designed high-end retail spaces for the likes of Louis Vuitton, Coach, and Nordstrom.

After some collaborative tweaks on details like materials, palettes, and wood finishes, the designs are made available on COFO's website as part of one larger collection. 

"The goal isn't to release a bunch of random furniture pieces," says Simmen. "The idea is collaboratively pulling together a cohesive collection." 

Aside from having all the marketing and distribution taken care of, designers also receive an industry standard of three per cent royalty on every unit sold, which is a big boost for any amateur designer's resume. 

The 2018/19 collection, which launched in October, includes work like the Garcia ($2,230), a multi-purpose piece with an adjustable mirror made by Mary Anne Garcia, a recent OCAD grad, or the Soma shelf ($2,500) from Humber grad Olivia Sementsova. 

One of the designs, The Roque chair ($1,500) from Trish Roque, was even nominated for a 2019 German Design Award and can be seen at Toronto menswear store Area+001

COFO has also partnered with the publication DesignLines to showcase the 2018/19 collection at the Interior Design Show, happening at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre this weekend. 

As for the 2019 design challenge, it's already on: submissions are due by February 28. As long as you've graduated from an Ontario institution within the last five years, you might be able to flesh out your dream design in real life. 

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