Furniture Designer of the Year 2011: MTH Woodworks
A love story evolves into a sustainable line of furniture from MTH Woodworks.
Michael Thomas Host and Tanja Hinder—the couple behind one-year-old MTH Woodworks —met in 2002 when Hinder, now 30, was visiting English Bay, on a break from her native Switzerland. Worlds (and mountain bikes) collided, and the pair pursued the summer romance long-distance for three years. Hinder finally moved to Vancouver to study interior design at BCIT; Host—who’s now 34 and got his start working with wood at a shop in Brooklyn (“We’d take a rental van and head out at midnight into Manhattan, work a deal with the security guards to take some of the beams and posts out of those old buildings”)—was already building custom cabinetry. A snug fit. With the Bloom and BloomX lines, the pair pursue an ecological aesthetic; from their first table, cast in the Richmond garage of Host’s logger father, they’ve stuck to the guiding principle of enclosing organic shapes in clean, geometric forms (a legacy of Hinder’s Swiss roots). Judge Maddy Kelly celebrates this marriage for its innovation and technical excellence—“a great eco story.” The sticking point for MTH was materials. For the tabletop, they tried everything, even marine-grade gels, but hit pay dirt with an organic resin made from soybeans and peanuts—nontoxic, low odour, sustainable. For the wood, they struck a deal with a fellow managing a forest near Maple Ridge. He leaves a little more on the stumps, and the couple swoop in to pluck pieces with good form from the burn pile. That cedar and birch takes a long road before it hits Vancouver’s Provide, the exclusive local retailer of the Bloom lines: drying, sandblasting, shaping, sealing, applying resin, and so on. Working 16-hour days (with time off for biking), the pair infuse their salvaged treasures with new life.