Tucked in the forest of scenic Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, a small crew of skilled artisans respectfully cut and finish locally sourced Canadian larch wood lumber. With a combined 100 years+ of woodworking experience, the talented crew at Larch Wood Enterprises manages the humming saws and presses to fashion distinctive “end grain” cutting boards, each a one-of-a-kind work of art.
Today we are speaking with general manager Don Beamish, who credits the ingenuity and creativity of the Larch Wood crew for the company’s success. “Everyone has input in the design and process to make all of our products. We all live locally and are thrilled to have work year round so we can raise our families here in beautiful Cape Breton, which was recently named one of the top island destinations in the world—come visit!”
Don, tell us about your operation and process.
The Eastern Canadian Larch tree grows abundantly in Cape Breton and was traditionally used in boat building and other exterior applications such as decking and fence posts. Noted for its rot resistance, strength and ability to neutralize bacteria, Larch has all the characteristics needed to produce a superior cutting surface. The end grain construction of our boards provides a tough, yet forgiving, surface for knife blades.
The cut wood is dried in kilns, conditioned and sorted in sequence to retain the pattern of each slice. We take care to responsibly use all parts of the local timber brought to us: we sell scraps for firewood and kindling and the sawdust goes to farming.
What inspires their design?
My inspiration comes from having a keen eye and great appreciation of design. It also comes directly from the bold grain patterning and the natural coloring of the larch, along with its renowned durability.
Can you point to specific places or eras that influence your work?
I travelled the world when I was younger and worked as a home and furniture designer/ builder for most of my career. I take my influence from the Japanese traditions, the Craftsman Era, early Americana and from my own sensibilities.
How do you identify your key audience for your products?
I have found two different markets for our products. One is in the handmade/ galleries and shops and the other is in the high-end kitchen shops. For example, we sell to the Museum of Arts and Design in New York and Williams-Sonoma.
From your idyllic surroundings, do you use social media?
We are beginning to use social media more. We had a video produced on the manufacturing of our cutting boards from log to finished product that had 150,000 views in the first two weeks of release.
How do you see design’s importance in our industry as it moves forward?
Design is all-important as people have a passion to surround themselves with functional objects that bring them joy.
Can you give us a preview of what you will be showing in your booth at Discover Design?
We are currently collaborating with local blacksmith Grant Haverstock from Firehouse Iron Works to create a new line of end grain Larch with hand forged steel. We hope to have at least a couple of those to present in Discover Design 2016.
Tell us about your Discover Design experience at past Shows.
Our past experience with Discover Design has been quite a delight. First of all, it is truly International so we have the opportunity to meet buyers from across the globe. We also have had good success with writing accounts with independents and the larger players.
Thank you, Don, for telling a bit about life at Larch Wood. Your video about your production process really shows the artistry and skill that result in your unique cutting boards. We’d love to visit Cape Breton, but this month, we will visit you at booth N8713 in the Discover Design Expo in the North Building, a few steps from the Grand Concourse.
Learn more about Larch Wood by visiting www.larchwoodcanada.com
Discover Design Grows and Moves to North Building
Get acquainted with the people behind the stylish products that will appear at the 2016 International Home + Housewares Show in Discover Design. Nearly 200 new and veteran design leaders, including 11 emerging companies in the Design Debut incubator will present their latest products to retailers looking for the unique. Our blog conversations with selected exhibitors will give you a glimpse of the inspirations, influences and ideas that go into creating the exciting products that you’ll see at the Show from March 5 – 8 in Chicago.
Learn more about Discover Design exhibitors click here.