Plank – Designer Tom Chung and EQ3
Get to know one of Toronto’s up-and-coming designers, Tom Chung, and his recent collaboration with EQ3.
Ever since high school, Tom Chung had dreamed of becoming an architect. But while studying at Vancouver’s Emily Carr University of Art & Design, he quickly realized that architecture wasn’t the career he’d imagined. Instead of pursuing his teen dream, Chung redirected his energies into studying industrial design, and today his efforts have been greatly rewarded. Not only is he one of Canada’s most influential young industrial designers, but also at age 25 he started his own studio and recently signed a major deal with the uber-chic furniture company EQ3 to design a seven-piece collection called PLANK. It debuted at Toronto’s Interior Design Show, which was held from Jan. 17–20 in the South Building of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
In 2017, an exhibition of Chung’s work initially interested EQ3’s team at the Stockholm Furniture Fair, though it wasn’t until 2018 that the company commissioned him to create a project. Chung explains: “They came to me with a very specific logistical brief. They wanted a custom-made collection to consist of seven pieces, [including] three media units, two coffee tables and a side table.” EQ3’s vision was simple, which left Chung a great deal of creative freedom. One of the more creative elements Chung designed was a sliding door that can be switched out. This was made possible by keeping all the doors in the same proportions. The project did present a few challenges for Chung, but he was able to work with EQ3 in order to surmount them. “They wanted fabric doors, which are actually made in their facilities in Winnipeg. The facility in Winnipeg offered custom colours and upholstery for the furniture pieces without having crazy lead time and a large amount of inventory.”
Chung believes the partnership with EQ3 is a great fit for many reasons. “Historically, EQ3 has been a furniture company and not necessarily known as a design company. In the last five years, they have revamped their brand and are doing more collaboration which drives original design.”
Chung established his eponymous studio in 2016. Based in Toronto, the studio maintains a focus on industrial objects and interior spaces. Forming a an original design process that combines contemporary culture and local industry, the studio creates context-driven industrial design pieces for domestic, institutional and public environments. “It happened sooner than I had planned. I was only 25 at the time. It was something I was always interested in, but in my mind I thought it wouldn’t happen until I was 35 or 40. I think in Canada there’s only a handful of jobs available, which I had worked, and it seemed this was my only option.” Before owning his own studio, Chung worked for Umbra for 2.5 years. There, he was in charge of a program called Umbra Shift. The job had him travelling internationally a great deal. “We were working with artists in Vietnam and the Philippines.”
In the future, Chung hopes that product design will become a greater part of his studio’s income, which will allow him to tackle more experimental, self-initiated projects.
INTERVIEW BY VICTORIA SCOTT