This past Tuesday I dropped by COFO’s design pop-up. I had missed their opening night on the Thursday prior, but luckily I caught it on their second last day.
The pop-up was on the second floor of this black building, just north of the Shinola.
COFO is a new company that partners with emerging Canadian designers to fabricate their products. They release annual design challenges open to students in their last year of school or recent grads (from the last 5 years) and then choose a few designs to manufacture. The pop-up showcases their 2018/19 collection, with 6 new products (all seen below).
Three of those new products were designed by my friend and recent Humber grad Ian Buckley, along with Kenny Nguyen. They codesigned the lounge chair + ottoman set, as well as the side table near the bottom of the photo.
The two founders of COFO, Randy and Desmond, were there that day and accommodating enough to answer all my incessant questions. Randy has a background in manufacturing, while Desmond is experienced in both branding and apparel. Because I learned so much from them, be warned, since I’ll be nerding out over all kinds of details for the rest of this post.
This coat rack was designed by Mary Anne Garcia, an OCAD environmental design graduate (not industrial design, surprisingly). COFO was also handing out the tote bags, so that one in the picture is actually mine now.
The mirror and hangers are held in place by clear rubber O-rings.
The main post slots into place with these matching teeth, so the mirror can be rotated to face any direction fits best in your home.
COFO goes to great lengths with their manufacturing details. The wooden portions of the 49 North collection are actually hollow - a metal rod runs through them and screws into the rest of the steel frame so the wood isn’t actually load bearing.
They had a few of the wooden rods unscrewed on display by the 49 North table.
The back of the lounge chair slots in along these two rails to fit snugly at the bottom. The final versions of these chairs will have them sealed with silicone along the bottom of the frame where it meets the cushion.
Not even the bathroom was spared from a few decals to bring the whole space in line with COFO’s excellent branding.
This cinch stool is designed by Lucas Stanois, an OCAD industrial design grad. It features a felt back that wraps around and underneath the sides of the chair.
The screws through the metal plate at the bottom holds the felt back in place.
I was expecting the back to feel like a hammock, with a bit of slack and looseness when you leaned back into it, but to my surprise, once you lean back far enough you actually feel like you’ve hit a hard, rigid wall. The cause for this is just the small opening at the back colliding with the seat of the chair, but it provides a very substantial effect.
The Soma shelf is designed to be taken apart so that it can be shipped with a smaller footprint.
They have a laser tube cutter that they’ve used to make the holes above for the coat rack, as well as the complex curve where the blue rod meets the seat back on the Roque chair.
These branded rubber inserts are actually inspired by Desmond’s background in apparel - if you’ve ever felt the middle rubber piece in a zipper’s pull tab, these fit in exactly the same way.
I really like how COFO has applied their brand to their products - it’s small and subtle where it’s always visible, but the undersides have distinctive laser cut metal base plates that are much louder, where they can’t usually be seen.
It strikes a good balance.
if you’ve made it all the way down here, congratulations. I would recommend everyone to go check it out, but unfortunately the pop-up is long over by the time I get this post up. Hopefully seeing some of the photos here gives you a good impression of what it was like though.