Saturday, March 14, 2009



After a year-and-a-half-long silence, here, on the Sound Design blog, we are finally announcing the completion of our move to Riverdale, with the shop now fully operational (minus one of our planers - one, very heavy, 20" planer, which we decided to leave until the snow had stop falling and the sun had begun shining). We've had some really great projects come through the door in the past year, all of which we'll soon share here (as soon as we've finished dry-walling, yuck). Then, we'll share the details of some very-good news: We've finally begun milling our very-first two trees!

Friday, October 19, 2007


Having spent a fair amount of time with Calvin Hambrook and Wayne Abell, co-owners of Urban Source Creative Catering, the Torontonian catering company next-door to our studio now in its 23rd year, we can affirm that they're more than good caterers, they’re good neighbours, too.

Wayne and Calvin had expanded their space to include the recently vacated space which had separated our two businesses, and had set-apart the front portion of their new build as a place to meet with prospective clients. They had envisioned meeting with their clients-to-be while sitting around a new dining table, and had consciously chosen to support their neighbourhood by giving the commission to their new, next-door neighbour.

Their request was simple. They wanted a table, contemporary in style, which would accommodate daily, complimentary dining - which they do graciously provide “all” who happen to be in the building when lunch is served - and the presentation of their wares to future clients. They wanted the table to be black, with a high gloss finish; and because the table would need to accommodate from 6 to 12, requested that the table be expandable, eventually deciding on one, LARGE leaf, instead of the more-traditional two.

Their new, ash dining table, stained black, is 4 feet wide by 6 feet long; and when the table’s 2 feet by 4 feet leaf - which is held beneath the table by four, forty-pound magnets when not in use (as seen above) - is placed into position, their new table becomes a massive 4 feet by 8 feet, perfect for staging their art. We are quite pleased with the results, most grateful for the commission and truly hopeful that Calvin and Wayne will enjoy their new space, including their new dining table, for many more years of successful catering, and good neighbouring. Thanks Guys.

For more information on Urban Source Creative Catering, call 416-362-1973

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


When Stephanie Myddelton, a local, highly-talented abstract artist and her partner Susan stopped-by our studio to see - and, thankfully, to purchase - the walnut, glass-topped coffee table displayed in the window, Matthew immediately knew that he liked them, he just didn’t know how much, until a few weeks later when he was invited into their home. They had invited him there to see the space which they had envisioned holding a wall-mounted shelving unit, one that would compliment both the new coffee table and the soon-to-be end table they had already ordered to match. The very moment that he entered their charming, 1886 Victorian heritage-home, newly-restored and quite nicely doubling as Stephanie’s gallery, he was enamored by her artwork; in fact, charmed to the point that he had completely missed his own handiwork, sitting right at his own feet.

Stephanie paints in vivid colors, preferring massive canvases, which are truly dwarfed by the enormity of the beauty that she portrays upon them. The above is a mixed media piece - paint, wax and plaster, on canvas - measuring eight feet in height by four feet in width. Her work, put simply, is breathtaking. So it isn’t difficult to see how Matthew could have neglected to notice the coffee table that he himself had made, the very one he now enjoys knowing shares space with such magnificence -- nor difficult to see how her artwork made its way into Matthew’s dream.

We have ever since encouraged viewings of Stephanie’s available works, but it is her custom work that we want to here dote upon. Stephanie works closely with each of her, genuinely fortunate clients to produce the perfect piece to compliment their individual décor, bringing colour and form to spaces that truly “inspire, rejuvenate and ground”. She refers to her commissioned work as co-creation, saying that for her art is both “a passion and a destiny”; that she paints to “fulfill an intention”. We - in complete agreement - are thankful to think that fate has brought us the good fortune of being chosen by such an artist, to fulfill an intention, and are left feeling privileged to be a small-part of something so special, in such a special space, Susan and Stephanie's home.

It's a century-old abode with character, including its original hardwood floor, which posed a small challenge for their newly-commissioned, four-legged end table. One of the four legs had to be made ½” shorter than the others - the leg in the rear of the table, nearest the wall - for the table to stand level. Matthew also provided Stephanie and Susan an assortment of varying sized, doweled shims, which can be added to the bottom of the shortened leg if they ever desire to move the table to another spot in the room with a different disposition. Our hope is that no matter where the table stands, it along with its counterparts continue to give Stephanie and Susan even a fraction of the joy that we both experience when in the presence of the artwork that adorns their walls. "Our Thanks."

For more information on Stephanie’s work, contact her at 416-423-8886

Thursday, August 2, 2007


We are very happy to have received a telephone call, and even happier about the subsequent visits, from one of our latest clients, Al, a member of our community who shared with us his furniture dilemma, and his plan, which included Sound Design. Al had stumbled upon our studio while shopping for furniture for a newly purchased condo in the prestigious Pantages Tower in downtown Toronto, and our Summit collection had caught his eye. He had already procured some of the furniture for the property, but had quickly arrived at the conclusion that his purchases, though on the surface appearing well-suited to their new, much-admired address, were, just beneath the surface, lacking - especially for furniture that will actually be used, or even abused.

Al had purchased furniture not unlike that found in many upscale homes today, particularly smaller homes like condos, both aesthetically pleasing and multi-functional. And like the vast majority of such furniture, widely available, it is constructed from beautifully veneered, ¾” particleboard, which if placed in its ideal setting, with gentle wear and no moisture, will easily hold its own for years, even for a lifetime. However Al had purchased the condo, and the subsequent furnishings, not for his own personal use, but for a high-end rental property, a.k.a. corporate accommodations for the lucky few who find themselves living in the heart of Toronto with a view from the top. And Al found that even with just the right tenant, the furnishings WILL be used with a little less thought than one would hope. He discovered that a veneered surface is actually quite fragile, in-that any damage incurred is irreversible, like the ring left behind on Al’s television stand from the careless placement of an otherwise harmless plant; whether it’s a leaking planter or a sweating glass - something we have all done at one time or another - there's no going back once the damage is done.

Al quickly realized the importance of what’s beneath the beautiful façade of his entrusted furniture - realized the importance of a truly sound design, especially when looking for a truly sound investment. The above bar table, inspired by the Summit collection, was the first of four pieces that Al commissioned Matthew to make for the space, a piece that will serve both Al and his tenant(s) well for many, many years to come. The two legs simply slide into one another, and are locked in place by the setting of the top piece into position. The legs are made from 3” x 7” solid walnut and the top from 3” solid maple, which Al will simply refinish if-and-when the time comes that someone, in a momentary lapse of thoughtfulness, leaves their mark. And with 3 inches of solid, Canadian maple on top, Al has now gained the ability to refurbish his new investment, time and time and time again, once more proving our point: SOUND DESIGN = SOUND INVESTMENT.

Thanks Al.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


From time to time in life we are asked to do something that makes us cringe, and such was certainly the case one day in May, when Joanne and Robert walked into our gallery and shared their dilemma and subsequent request. They had commissioned a local woodworking shop to produce a very special dining table, for their charming Corktown loft, and were, let’s just say less than pleased with the results. They had chosen to have their table made from a truly prized, Canadian wood, Spalted Maple, now one of our personal favorites, a very difficult wood to both find and - because of the vast variety of patterns - to match. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, when their table was delivered, the two seams of the three-sectioned table had been improperly joined. As Robert stated, sadly, “I can’t even look at it, never mind sit at it.” Joanne and Robert requested that Matthew gently cut the table into three pieces, properly reassemble them, and to attempt to do so without having to refinish the newly finished table. Cringe. Additionally, feeling as though the table lacked the presence that a table constructed from such a distinctive wood should rightly demand, and simply to give the table a more finished appearance, they requested that Matthew also add a 2” skirt. And so began our hunt-for and love-of Spalted Maple.

Spalting is a natural process that occurs in a variety of species, but it’s the lighter colored woods like birch and maple that offer the best canvas for the drama to express itself upon. When a tree is downed, fungi found naturally on the forest floor begin their show, and if three, simple conditions - airflow, heat and moisture - are just right, the results are spectacular, producing black, gray, pink and even multi-colored streaks in the wood. Spalting, simply stated, is a wondrous process whereby due to a fallen tree’s environmental circumstances it is placed into an accelerated state of deterioration, which produces a visually stunning display. But because spalting is actually just a pretty name for rotting, enters the importance of stopping the process, through drying, before the integrity of the wood is breached; if spalting is left unchecked, the wood, in a very short period of time, is completely destroyed. However the results of spalting “caught” at just the right time are truly amazing, and have been aptly described as the work of Nature’s pen, because each streak seems to be the thoughtful work of an obviously skilled hand.

Joanne and Robert’s maple dining table is a fine example of this wonderful phenomenon, so the trick was finding a wood with a matching signature, if you will, and we could not be happier with what we found. After searching high and low, we were more than pleased to finally find a sufficient, perfectly matching supply of Spalted Maple at a small, independent mill in the Niagara region. We had almost decided along with Joanne and Robert to use a different, contrasting wood, but at the last minute received an e-mail, saying their mill had exactly what we were looking for. We were not disappointed, and happily, Joanne and Robert both agree that it’s a great match.

Although we were sad to see it go, with so many of our walk-by’s stopped in their tracks by its beauty, we are truly happy that Joanne and Robert will have many memorable moments with family and friends gathered around their very special, Spalted Maple dining table. Cheers!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


While we await a response to what we believe to be a noble cause, await those in higher places to see the light, one might say, we wanted to share with you what is happening at 400 Queen East.

As you know, at the heart of Sound Design is our Family Tree Service. We are, however, pleased that until our time is fully dedicated to producing heirloom quality furniture from the most special of trees, we have such special projects coming our way. The above nautical light was delivered to our shop by a couple in our neighborhood, who had noticed Matthew’s handiwork in the window. Having originally provided light for a waterborne voyager, on the bow of boat, Ken and Marion requested that Matthew place their newly acquired brightwork atop a worthy structure, and chose the above tripod from the multiple options that Matthew suggested. Constructed from solid walnut, except for one hollow leg accommodating the cord, it should grace their home for many years to come. We hope that both Ken and Marion love their lamp as much as we do. - "Thanks Guys!"

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Families everywhere are calling for change - like the rustling of leaves, a variety of voices in various ways all calling for a return of brighter, more meaningful days. As more and more of us find ourselves living within an urban forest, a modern-day metropolis arisen from among the trees, a collective sigh can be heard as we emerge from the treetops, unfulfilled, a sigh echoed by the trees. Although presented a cornucopia of opportunities, urban dwelling families find themselves restlessly searching for that always illusive more, searching for fulfillment. Matthew has a plan, a way to by looking back at time memorialized, ‘the beauty beneath’, see a brilliant future written in the heart of each and every, family tree, and in turn the brighter days clearly ahead. His plan? “Nature! With A Future.

Since time immemorial, close bonds have existed between families and trees. And having grown from the same soil, the parallels which have been long observed and duly noted are voluminous. Trees, just like us, have a natural life-cycle which eventually includes death; they grow up, grow old, and just like us for a variety of reasons die. Most notable, and of relevance here, is the emptiness that each shares with the other, when unfulfilled. Equally true of both, we and trees, this shared void, the unsatisfied desire for fulfillment - that characteristic, self-evident hollowing that each and every one of us experiences, grows. The all-consuming desire for fulfillment - it clearly appears - is ingrained in both.

Today, privately owned, family trees, regardless of weddings, birthdays and unnumbered sunny-days celebrated in the shade of their noble boughs, are left to hollow. Unfulfilled, they empty themselves of the irreplaceable memories that are recorded within their hearts, until in the end, having been felled, they are burned, leaving their families with nothing more than dust as a reminder of the unfulfilled promise of days never ending. And sadly, this tragedy is commonly sanctioned by urban forestry departments everywhere. Matthew, desiring more, has envisioned something better, a fully-encompassing, “matchless” plan - an urban forest management plan whereby each family and their favored, family tree will find joint fulfillment.

Advocating family, Matthew proposes a change to “Private Tree” By-laws everywhere, by the addition of “Family Tree” provisions which will allow families to preserve only the most special of trees, those rooted in love, from certain ruin. Through the preservation of the unique family history that is contained in the heart of each family’s tree, the fallen, family friend, fulfilled, becomes a reincarnate treasure, preferably ‘furniture with heart’ (though we are wholly biased), to be shared with the generations to come. Encouraging thoughtful management of urban forests nationwide - promoting the judicious harvesting of mature, family trees, prior to degradation - Matthew’s plan calls for awareness of both the communal beauty and heirloom value of urban tree canopies. Healthy, sustainable, urban forests attained through “Family Tree” harvesting and replanting programs, effectively thereby growing a deep-rooted sense of community, beginning with our very own, truly fair "City of Trees".

Saturday, April 7, 2007


We just happened to have found ourselves in the heart of the oldest district in our "City of Trees" -- one of the many epithets assigned to the beautiful city of Toronto -- at its most exciting moment, renewal. As luck would have it, our arrival dovetailed perfectly with the revitalization project that was recently adopted by our neighborhood, namely Corktown - old town Toronto - our new home. We want to officially extend a heartfelt "WELCOME" to one and all, and to say that we could not be happier to finally be home.

Friday, April 6, 2007

THE BEGINNING: 'Our Secret' Is In Your Tree

In the past, a tree possessing a unique rendering of its family's history would eventually meet a fruitless end as firewood. We take a tree with a past and give it a future, as furniture - 'the final fruit of the family tree'.

We believe that there is no greater way to assure ourselves of success as a furniture manufacturer than to infuse into handmade, heirloom-quality furniture the added value of "sentiment" [i.e., we make "your" furniture from "your" tree]. We take the one living record of your family's shared life, the family tree, and reveal the beauty beneath as we transform it into a number of beautiful, handcrafted pieces, together forming your family's collection - homegrown, thoughtfully processed, handmade furniture. That is why we say that your family's story is our secret ingredient, and how we plan to make our good furniture perfect. "Hand-Crafted, Heart-Felt."

Thursday, April 5, 2007


What would we have done if we had known that it would be three years, including 8 months of renovation, before we could start making furniture? If only we had known...we, both, would have asked the very same question:
"When can we begin?".