When I arrived at Material Creative’s studio in Cumberland, an unseasonable rain was falling and the air was cool. Lush gardens led to a building reminiscent of all the hippie shelters of my youth, and I was in love before they opened the rustic double doors. Inside, low tech and high tech were tucked in together by the wood stove, intricately cut prototypes hung on nails in the walls, and a vintage fan perched on the edge of their laser cutter machine.
The idea and inspiration for Material Creative was born in the early spring of 2015 in a small French town, over candlelight and many bottles of good wine. In May of that year, back home in Cumberland, a package the size of a European car was delivered… to the end of their driveway. They were able to wrangle enough friends and neighbours to get the package to its new home in their studio.
What followed the delivery of the laser cutter has been an ongoing process of “learn by doing,” deciphering instruction manuals that appear to have been compiled entirely by Google translate from their original Mandarin, and working on designs and products that grow more complex and detailed all the time.
Founders, Megan Trumble and Rylan Lea both have a background in design, and a passion for products that enhance your life and living space, without falling into the consumer trap of disposable decor. Inspiration is diverse, ranging from Scandinavian Design, to Egyptology, Frank Lloyd Wright, all the way to Ancient Civilization. Both agree that creativity exposes you, and they always seek to be sensitive and diplomatic in the face of that vulnerability. Working with wood primarily, they also work with paper products, mirror, and glass. A beautiful laser-etched mirror piece is leaning against a wall, waiting to go out into the world. Rylan and Megan agree that a product must be loved before it is ready to be shared. The materials they have chosen to work with, and the name they chose for their company as well, speak to the balance they continue to seek between creating new products versus how much expendable clutter exists in the world. The subtlety in their marketing speaks to this as well, sharing an appreciation for art and beauty without insisting you must purchase new things to be fulfilled.
The Comox Valley has been an incredibly supportive place to begin this endeavour, and their local client and collaborators list is long. Their products are currently available either online or at Rally Co. on 5th Street in Courtenay, and examples of their creative installations can be spotted at Vancouver Island Music Fest where they designed the Woodland Stage, and at Atmosphere Gathering in Cumberland.
Throughout our conversation, a few themes repeated themselves. The creative process is constantly evolving, and design is an ongoing conversation. Communication and collaboration are at the heart of the work that Megan and Rylan are doing, and their journey feels like it’s only just beginning.