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Hothouse Design Studio

Thong TableIn 1992, Edmonton designers Tom Sharp, Tim Antoniuk, Christian Smith and Donna Nygren-Jones founded Hothouse Design Studio, a collective that produces cutting-edge metal furniture and furnishings. Hothouse’s principals were newly graduated industrial design students from the University of Alberta, and were soon joined by graphic designer Dennis Lenarduzzi.

From the beginning, their intention was to design distinctive furniture that was at once eye-grabbing and useful.

By 1996, the company had gone international, and its goods were available throughout North America, as well as South America, Europe, the Middle East and Japan.

In the United States especially, the exposure resulted in pieces drawing attention in novel places. The Brooke Shields TV sitcom Suddenly Susan, used Hothouse’s Monarch coat rack in one of the show’s sets. A combination spun-wood, hourglass shaped stand with metal spires topped with wooden balls, the stand was thought by some to resemble a jester’s cap.

At its peak, Hothouse Design had a production staff of 40, and 28,000 square foot metal fabrication and assembly plant. It opened a retail outlet in Edmonton’s Commerce Place, which was only moderately successful and closed in 2002. By that year, of the original principals, only Sharp, Lenarduzzi and Antoniuk remained. The co-operative was dissolved in March 2003.

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