Bike Culture, Locally-Made Products and More…

My good friend Nick Kirschner, owner and manager of Synergy Cycle, offered to write a guest post about some of the local artisans and the products that were  featured at the Smart Design Mart this past weekend.  His post is informative, hilarious and quite fascinating.

One Account of Marché Smart Design Mart 2012

{ Disclaimer for cycling-purists: the following content-piece features Nick Kirschner’s subjective opinion about an event that did not exclusively pertain to cycling culture, but Nick did ride his bike there and purchase locally-made products that will assist him in his daily cycling, or feed his desire to cycle more frequently. }

A text message came in from Dave that read “There’re wooden handlebars here”.  I don’t remember the last time a “notification” captured my attention as immediately as this one.  The next text came: “Design Mart at 5505 Casgrain”.  I canceled most of my Saturday afternoon and enjoyed a short, warm and rainy bike ride (luxury for the month of December) over to Casgrain street, where I discovered one of the most successful artisan fairs I’ve seen in Montreal, not that I’m an expert on these kind of events, by any means…

There’re a lot of mediocre “Fait Ici” products in our market; products that have little else to boast for themselves other than where they’re made.  At Marché Smart Design Mart I was thrilled to discover the complete opposite: an incredible variety of exceptionally pleasant, creative, go-getting characters displaying an amazing array of beautifully crafted products.

Design Mart Entrance
Design Mart Entrance

Specifically speaking, there were over a hundred exhibitors.  I heard rumours that madeinmontreal have something to do with the event… and, who ever is behind it, I’d like to say that Smart Design 2012 wasn’t only a success thanks to exceptional exhibitors, but it was also held in a wonderfully spacious, well lit and pleasantly warm venue.  There was an optional coat-check, tons of ceiling height for exhibitors to make great use of their designated space, and plenty of floor for the place to get really busy without concern for fire-safety …not that that’s a concern when we typically cram into packed church basements in the middle of the summer.… And, as we are known for it, the Montreal people were beautiful; handsome men, and ladies — just exquisite!, and always a few strides ahead of the men.

Many of the talented exhibitors out this weekend were selling products that are not only passionately designed and executed here, but they’re also very original and not particularly available anywhere in the market right now:

The Junior crew, among many exciting creations, had a long canvas grocery-bag with a leather draw-string top and a beautiful thick leather strap allowing the bag to be used as a back-pack, or a shoulder bag.  This is something that I’ve been personally looking for for years to help with groceries by bike.

Junior Booth
Junior Booth
Junior Grocery Pack
Junior Grocery Pack
Junior Grocery Pack
Junior Grocery Pack

F&Y were displaying the wooden handlebars which drew me to Design Mart in the first place.  A wooden bicycle handlebar is hardly the kind of frivolous fixed-gear-accessory most people can wrap their moustache around, BUT, for those who are into the most obscure of bicycle-culture geekery, the wooden handlebar is conceptually fun, at the very least, and I immediately noticed that F&Y were doing it in a way that was particularly notable: they run an elegant piece of flat aluminum through the centre of their bars, with rivets pinning the wood together, giving the bars a serious leg-up on structural integrity.  I’ve only been able to find a small company in Italy that practices a similar technique.  The F&Y bars were gorgeous …and I purchased 2 of them.

F&Ybooth
F&Y booth
F&Ybars
F&Y bars

“C comme Ça” is a beautiful ‘felt+leather’ bag and accessory company that made a strong presence at Design Mart.  The full product line boasted all of the important components of premium design: timeless aesthetics, beautiful quality materials, construction techniques acknowledging heritage craftsmanship, function that addresses modern needs, and even recycled leather …which addresses global needs.  This kind of product success makes me want to use normally unspeakable words, such as “holiday gift ideas” !

C comme Ca
C comme Ça

Stay Gold Pony Boy is Marigold Santos’ hand-painted and crafted jewellery; another example of great design work employing a clear concept, basic materials, and beautiful execution …and even a little comedy (see kitchen-knife necklace).

Stay Gold Pony Boy
Stay Gold Pony Boy
Stay Gold Knives
Stay Gold Knives

DahlsMTL, by Nils Chartier was offering his classic leather-strapped grocery bag and apron; both, again, examples of products featuring classic design prowess often lacking in the generic products we foolishly consume.  The Dahls” apron is extremely appealing as restaurant business to bicycle mechanic attire, while the grocery bag features removable leather straps (for when washing the bag), two handy outside pockets, and an inside bottle sleeve and a classic logo-print.  Style and function; two please!

Dahls Booth with Nils
Dahls Booth with Nils
Dahls Grocery Bag
Dahls Grocery Bag
Inside Dalhs Grocery Bag
Inside Dalhs Grocery Bag

I completely failed to get a good look at Mitz Takahashi’s booth (there was something about a giant poster from the Devito and Schwarzenegger film ‘Junior’), but I absolutely must mention him because he’s a wildly creative design-artist who fashions beautiful furniture from repurposed wood.  Please see his website: http://mitztakahashi.com/

There were many exhibitors whom I didn’t get to see at Marché Smart Design Mart; I could’ve easily gone back on the Sunday.  Ultimately though, I want to say that rather than looking at these kinds of events as frivolous little social functions for the “kids” (as many foolish people might), it’s exceptionally important that we share a desire to seek and support brilliant artisan-entrepreneurs, in Montréal and all over N-America, who are selflessly pouring their hearts and minds into work that our society does not acknowledge or support frequently enough — let’s take a second to throw educators in here too. The severity of the unfolding “global-state” is something that we might be able to change;  WE MUST TRY THE BEST WE CAN.  Even for those who don’t want children; many of our dearest friends and family do, and we should support them.  We must stop paying “low-low prices” for bad products sold to us by bad people and bad corporations; many of these people are controlling us and the world with the money that we constantly supply them with.  We must ride our bicycles; to work when we can, to the grocery store every week, to dinner with friends, and to Marché Smart Design Mart 2013.  We must consume more local foods, avoid products in frivolous packaging and compost all of our organic garbage.  That is all for now.  Thank you.  Please see http://www.madeinmontreal.org/ for more news about things made in Montréal, and news about events to come, like the Pop-Puce on December 14-16th.

Websites and FB pages:

F&Y website
Design Mart FB
Pony Boy FB
DahlsMTL on Etsy — http://www.etsy.com/shop/DahlsMTL
http://ccommeca.ca/
http://mitztakahashi.com/
http://www.madeinmontreal.org/

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