As up-and-coming Montreal furniture designer Mitz Takahashi mostly works with recycled wood, found metals, and just about anything you’d think of as “scrap,” he can often be spotted sifting through debris, rubbish and various doodads at the city’s curbsides (though he is also the lucky recipient of local business’ offcuts). His biggest challenge is turning what’s essentially garbage into something undeniably beautiful. Emphasis on undeniable: We visited Takahashi’s workshop and studio and, looking at the end products, we would never have otherwise guessed they were anything but the masterpieces they’ve become. As any handyman knows, that’s no easy task.
The Canadian Dream
Almost as interesting as Takahashi’s process is the story of how the Osaka-born designer wound up in his trade. He arrived in Canada at sixteen, living first on the West coast but completing a BFA at the University of Lethbridge, just outside of Calgary. From there, a still-young Takahashi moved to Montreal to continue his studies and eventually began an internship with Furni, another of the city’s noteworthy custom furniture operations. There, under the wing of Devin Barrette, a cabinetmaker of ten years, Takahashi quickly perfected the craft of woodworking.
From idea to object
When asked what inspires him, Takahashi responds excitedly: “The idea of making stuff.” Hey, we can relate; except, instead of completely ravaging a simple fix-me-up project, this artisan has a real knack for making his dreams a solid, touchable reality. Foregrounding practicality, longevity and resourcefulness, Takahashi’s designs showcase not only his imagination but also his skill. Each piece — whether a utilitarian bookshelf or his hilarious “Medieval Asshole” coasters — reflects a part of his personality: humble, yet daring enough to stand out from the crowd.
Having DJed at a number of Montreal hotspots — Casa del Popolo, Salon l’Officiel, and now Nouveau Palais — Takahashi is no stranger to picking up on peoples’ tastes. He uses music as an analogue to explain how he approaches furniture-making: the best music, for him, combines something that sounds familiar with something you’ve never heard before. Putting this theory into practice, his furniture echoes mid-century aesthetic while also sporting a futuristic sophistication. Takahashi aims to capture simplicity, linking the timelessness of the 1950s to its lack of ornamentation. Nonetheless, even though his furniture steers clear of unnecessary adornment, it goes without saying that these are some of the handsomest modern pieces we’ve laid eyes on.
What’s to come
While succeeding at personal goals, Takahashi’s start-up is still in its early stages. He is constantly finding new ways to improve his practice and hopes to soon manufacture larger editions of his creations. With Christmas fast approaching, he is overworked and under slept, but still chipper as ever — his plans for the New Year include learning how to reupholster couches — and looks forward to additional local stores stocking his wares. Currently you can find his must-have furnishings at Citizen Vintage, La Founderie, and Atalier B, with the option to order some items online.
As Takahashi is always growing as a designer, builder, and artist, he rarely makes the same furniture for extended lengths of time. Still, he encourages potential buyers to get in direct contact via his web site — he is happy to return to old designs and often considers consignment work, if the price is right.
Image courtesy of Mitz Takahashi.