DesignTO: Jamie Wolfond
Jamie Wolfond opens himself up in a new programming idea by DesignTO.
Like all of us forced to adapt to pandemic-related separation protocols, DesignTO had to get creative with programming for its January 2021 festival. One such example was Ask Me Anything, an online initiative aiming to foster learning about the design process by creating direct access to a designer and the public. Toronto-based Jamie Wolfond gamefully stepped in as the first guest, holding a dozen 30-minute private online meetings over two days. Jamie Wolfond Studio opened in 2013, creating products for Wolfond’s consumer brand, Good Thing. In 2018, Wolfond sold Good Thing, and has since focused entirely on the Studio.
What was the breakdown of people you engaged with, in terms of professional designers versus members of the public generally interested in design?
JW: I spoke with a fair number of students, several recent graduates and one or two members of the general public.
Overall, what did the participants seem most interested in asking you about? Was it general discussions about your creative process, or very specific ones like the types of materials or tools you use (almost like digging for trade secrets)?
JW: We don’t have a lot of trade secrets here. A handful of participants had questions about my experience running my own design brand, which I did from 2014 to 2018, and the rest were interested in comparing experiences as an independent designer or finding out more about how the studio operates currently.
As far as comfort level, were there any surprising topics you really liked talking about; and conversely, any you had to sidestep or weren’t comfortable discussing?
JW: As you might imagine, I’m more comfortable talking about the career I transitioned to rather than the one I transitioned from. A lot of young designers admired my brand, and it can be a little tricky to find a positive way to describe an experience that I don’t ultimately remember very much positivity.
This program was a first for DesignTO, so a bit of an experiment I presume. Once it was all over, was it beneficial for you? Any useful takeaways?
JW: It was a nice way to spend a few afternoons. I really wasn’t looking to get anything out of it myself. I just wanted to make myself available as a resource to anyone who wanted to chat.