2010 Design Inside the Box: T-102

Tyler Vreeling brushed the dust off an old design and gave it a second life.

Sometimes, you have to go back to your original inspirations to find your best work.

Such was the case for Tyler Vreeling, who created this coffee table when he was still studying industrial design at the University of Alberta. He compares it to personally discovering a band that is several years into its career: “You dig up all of their old stuff, and find some hidden gems. T-102 was [made] just prior to what I would consider my most creative student work,” he says, “but people really seem to like it.”

Vreeling is now creative director of Fat Crow Design, which he founded three years ago to specialize in industrial design, visual communications and exhibit designs. His chosen career is a perfect fit for someone who confesses to having a short attention span. “I am always switching gears,” he says. “In design, you always have to be learning.”

Of the many designs he has created, Vreeling says he selected the coffee table because of its simplicity. “There isn’t a lot of excess with this piece,” he explains. “It is what it is: a coffee table.”

He used five layers of Baltic birch, laminated pieces together to create a layering effect. “And I left the edges exposed so you could see all the plys,” he says. To form the wood, he made a mould and used a vacuum press to shape the material to it. “The wood then conforms to the mould and it looks like an integral piece of wood,” he says.

Vreeling admits to having a strong dislike for clutter, so to avoid coffee table disorder, he added storage space to the design. “That’s the beauty of design,” he says. “It’s about always trying to find a better solution – to design products and systems that allow people to live a greater life than they already do.”

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