Furniture creation may not be what he thought he’d be doing for his day job, but Ottawa-based furniture maker Chris Solar stumbled onto it and he has never looked back.
Solar went to the University of Waterloo for Computer Engineering and moved to Ottawa to pursue a career with Nortel as a software designer. “I worked for Nortel for 12 years or so and reached my limit. I had enough. I survived the implosion of Nortel but I just didn’t have any passion for that job anymore.” So he quit in 2004, was a stay-at-home dad for his toddler and really started making furniture for others around 2006.
“It’s something that I always wanted to try and do more at it rather than picking away at it on the odd weekend making hobby stuff,” Solar explained. Now, he says, “I get to actually try and make things that other people will want to buy and I guess leave a mark in a way, I wanted to have design ideas that were worthy of realizing.”
There is a unique kind of poise that is almost mathematical in nature with his designs. His pieces are interesting to look at because there are these flowing shapes that are somehow balanced giving a frame of reference for his work.
“I’m not so into exotic, tropical woods anymore, for instance, I’d just be happy to use simple, domestic wood. It’s the lines and the shapes that are more interesting to me.”
He began working with upholstery which he said has its own language. He is still learning the ins and outs of this language as his work with an upholsterer is different than most others.
“For me I’m going in with just an idea and I want to understand what I can do, what are the options, how does this work,” he explained.
His designs often go through many changes along the process from sketch to reality. It is in this way that Solar is able to be imaginative and explore. His talent always shines through as his pieces are carefully crafted. “I think to design well you have to be rigorous and explore a lot of options,” said Solar. “That’s what I try to find. That’s when it becomes successful, when there’s a balance between exuberance and restraint.”