ALEXIS DODD OF STEELWOOD DESIGN
At Obakki, we always want to know more about the people behind our products. Human beings are many-faceted creatures and as much as you may know someone already, you can always dig a little deeper. These five questions do just that.
Today we talk with North Vancouver-based designer Alexis Dodd, the creative force behind Steelwood design, for our series Five Questions. Working with her father in their family studio they craft each piece together by hand, using woodworking skills that clearly run in the family. Whether it comes from the cabinet of a home that spent decades filled with love, or from a table gifted to a soldier and his wife as they began a new life after the war, each piece of reclaimed wood that Alexis uses has a story to tell.
What do you love most about your life?
I love my work. I love creating. Taking a raw piece of wood or steel and turning it into something beautiful. I find it wildly rewarding.
I love my cats, and they visit me all day in my workshop.
I love when my son runs out of his classroom at the end of the day to see me.I love watching my daughter play her sport and that she still comes to me to help her through a tough decision or to chat.
I love seeing how proud my dad is when he talks to someone new about our business.
And I love how much people love our products!
Who (or what) has inspired you the most in your work?
I think it’s the repurposing of a material that would’ve been tossed out that inspires me the most. It’s truly so satisfying to take something unwanted and turn it into a product that will be a loved heirloom. I’m very honoured to be included in so many family dinners, by way of the pieces I build.
Why do you create art – what drives you?
Well, I need to pay the mortgage (hahaha). Seriously though, I think I’d go mad if I couldn’t create. My brain likes me to be busy, and my hands like to keep moving. I just have to do what I do.
Where would you like to see your business in the future?
I’d love to keep moving forward and morphing into the next thing, whatever that is. I hate using trendy words like “organic,” but it really is just that – organic. It happens when it’s time. I’m driven and work constantly but I’m also open to where Steelwood will flow next.
How can we help create a better world for each other?
So, my thing is, it takes absolutely nothing to be kind. Everyone is busy and a bit frazzled, but honestly no one is so busy that they can’t be just a bit kind. Everyone needs kindness in their life and if you can be kind to someone, you’ve done something worthwhile. I know I’ve saved a ton of wood from being thrown out and I hope I’ve been kind along the way.
SHOP THE STORY
The Making of: Akiliba Pots
The rural village of Akiliba, in Northern Uganda, is well off the beaten path. And it is home to a determined group of craftswomen who are using pottery as a way to sustain their whole community. These are the Potters of Akiliba.
Notes from the Field: Chiapas, Mexico
The southernmost state of Chiapas was calling – rich with textiles and pottery and indigenous craftwork true to the ancestors. The further from major urban centres, the less likely these talents will be advanced, as it is extremely difficult for these artisans to survive without access to markets. But that’s what we’re here for. So off I went.
DESIGNER INTERVIEW SERIES: Suzanne Dimma
A great design sense can be developed and nurtured. It isn’t something you’re necessarily born with. Many talented architects and designers, including my husband, are the sole designers in their families, so clearly it isn’t only genetic. It’s more about having a deep interest and passion and great powers of observation and then building on experience.