We recently met with COFO Designto discuss the history of the company and its co-founders.
The name COFO is a hint at how the company was started by “co-founders” Desmond Chan and Randy Simmen, but also the way in which all of the interior design is “co-founded”— through collaboration with young designers. Chan’s background in fashion and Simmen’s background in manufacturing, with the help of an engineering team, has created a platform for unimaginable designs.
The company’s motto is all about inspiring emerging designers to bring forth the most innovative interior designs. Through its annual Design Challenge, COFO encourages designers to submit original work for cutting edge pieces. The participants are judged based on a variety of criteria, including innovation, aesthetic quality, emotional content, usefulness, and environmental responsibility, by several industry leaders, such as Karen Kang, National Director for the Interior Design Show (IDS)and Tory Healy, Editor of Designlines Magazine. The winner gets a 500 CAD prize and in turn, COFO produces the design and sells the piece through their online platform, with the designer receiving a 3% commission.
This is an important mission, as COFO gives young designers, that is students in their final year of a design program or an individual who graduated in the past five years, an early chance to become an entrepreneur, by producing and selling their work. The way the contest was designed was an early point of contention in the industry, as some critics were concerned about the level of commission the designer would receive and intellectual property issues, such as who truly owned the design submission. Ultimately, the designers receive acknowledgement for their proprietary work and receive recognition for this on the online platformand even internationally through awardsand e-commerce platforms.
COFO is investing in the future of “Canadian Design”, what Chan called diversity in design, multicultural individuals coming together to design authentically. By focusing on authentic collaboration, COFO allows designers to get involved in the production process, connect at multiple checkpoints, and bring a diverse set of skills to the table to create beautiful designs. Chan describes it as a “unique synergy of creatives all at one table”.
The company’s focus on transparent production, sustainability, and innovation set it apart from other Canadian interior design companies. Keep an eye out on this space for future conversation with the company about the way law has impacted their creative work and how their core values are embodied in their design process.
Written by Summer Lewis.