Interview with Devin Schaffner
Heirlooms and sustainable lifestyles combine into timeless design in the hands of the Rekindle brand founder.
“The materials need to age gracefully and become better with time, and only natural materials can achieve such a heavy task.”
1. How would you change someone’s everyday experience with design?
We use and are in contact with designed products every day. How these items support us is essential to a high quality of life. When an item works well, the function barely goes noticed, and this is a good thing.
But when you add simple beauty and high-quality materials, we go out of our way to use it, and we notice it on a different level. How an item looks and feels in your hand helps define the experience, and when an item develops a natural patina through your specific style of use, it becomes a part of you and your life.
2. Why does the idea of a non-disposable lifestyle mean so much to you?
I’ve experienced some amazing places in this world that have shaped me to care for our natural environment. My philosophies came from my desire to support a non-disposable lifestyle for as many people as I can. I distilled my beliefs from this.
I want to create items with longevity, never to be thrown away. To do this, the design needs to be minimal so as to not force it into a certain era. The materials need to age gracefully and become better with time, and only natural materials can achieve such a heavy task. Finally, these designs need to fit into proven experiences that aren’t going anywhere—and these experiences often happen around social gatherings of the people closest to you.
3. How has becoming a father influenced your craft?
Becoming a father has reinforced two of my core beliefs: How important it is to keep trying to make this world a bit more sustainable; and to love all that you do, all that you own, and whom you spend your time with.
4. Do you have design objects or heirlooms in your family that get passed onto future generations?
I do think heirlooms are important as they become items embedded with emotional connection and memories of life experiences, especially with the people who have helped shape us.
To me, heirlooms are something to counter disposability—and since we are emotional beings, we can become emotionally connected to that useful, beautiful item.
I have seen many heirlooms that have sentimental value but don’t really resonate as something more than just nostalgic. I think about heirlooms as things that need to be considered from the design phase. I want to look at materials and design styles that age gracefully, and create types of products that have proven they will stay around and stay useful for a while.
5. You’ve recently relocated your business and family from Toronto back to your hometown. How has that changed your connection to your local community?
Being in a smaller municipality has allowed us to make our professional relationships quite personal. Many of the people I have connected with professionally have become great friends that we spend a lot of time with. The slower pace in our community has allowed us to build more meaningful relationships with the people around us.
With the local craftspeople here, there are so many opportunities to work together instead of against each other, and it seems like many of us see the opportunities in supporting each other instead of competing with each other.