I was a contributing writer to Designlines from 2007 to 2008. I researched articles, interviewed designers and wrote profiles on local talent. I also contributed to product captions and edited store listings. Below is an article I wrote on Science + Sons and their innovative use of ceramics.

Mister Science

Tristan Zimmerman has found perfect alchemy between Old World charm and modern technology

Retro-mod has been a trend of late, but Tristan Zimmerman of Science + Sons has looked much further back to find inspiration for his Phonofone series, a gramophone-shaped speaker system that’s completely power-free. All you have to do is place your MP3 player earbuds on two grooves located on the base and the Phonofone amps the sound up to a respectable 55 decibels.

The allure of Phonofone lies in its smooth white contours and clever construction. Made of ceramic, it’s the material’s inherent rigidity that helps produce a warm and resonant sound. “I love the twist of using insular listening devices that usually cut you off from the world around you and adapting them for a social role,” Zimmerman says.

Since graduating from OCAD in 2004, Zimmerman has been making a name for himself around town with his astute observations and witty social commentary. Take his ceramic Park Planters, which he co-created  with his fiancée, clothing designer Heather Schibli. A potted houseplant becomes a prop within a miniaturized scene of urban life located on the planter’s lid. Cast in pure white ceramic, the scenes take on a heavenly appearance though they are inspired by real life. A blow job scene, for instance, was designed to commemorate the designated gay-sex night at Trinity Bellwoods, a park close to Zimmerman and Schibli’s home. Other immortalized events include a mugging, a flasher and a G-rated dog walker.

So far, Zimmerman’s eclectic and humorous designs have served him well. The Phonofone II, now available at Ministry of the Interior and Klaus by Nienkämper, has been licensed to California-based design brokers Charles & Marie Inc., who will be re- releasing it this spring.

What is next for this nostalgic chap? Zimmerman is playing with a lot of ideas, which means he has no idea what he is going to release next. But one idea that’s floating around is another hybrid of home stereo meets dollhouse.

Desiglines Toronto. Summer 2008.