He credits his industrial design degree from Carleton University for providing him with the confidence to follow his heart into woodworking. “I’ve been making things my whole life, but design school gave me the tools and skills to elevate my abilities and make a profession doing it,” says Theo Stoppels, the designer behind the James bedside tables. For any designer, commissioned work is a treat because it adds intention to a project. And commissions are even more fulfilling when there’s a personal connection.
The buyers were friends of Stoppels’ and familiar with his work. They knew it, they liked it, and they promised him creative liberty to design a pair of bedside tables that both maker and buyer would be happy with. The tables had to be a certain height and shouldn’t be too dark in tone, but other than that, Stoppels had free rein. He immediately set to work, drawing up a 3-D model to bring his vision to life. The tables combine maple, bubinga (an African hardwood), brass, and steel in a design that is confidently modern. To make the intricate drawer fronts, Stoppels modelled them on the computer, then cut the pieces of bubinga into exact widths, thicknesses, and lengths before gluing them into place.
The couple were thrilled with the results. “They had just moved into a new house and actually waited for the bedside tables to be completed before finishing decorating and furnishing their bedroom.”