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Pure Design Ltd

Julip Magazine RackWhen University of Alberta industrial design graduates Geoff Lilge, Dan Hlus and Randy McCoy formed Pure Design Ltd. in January 1994, they began quite modestly with such metal home accessories as wine and magazine racks, and their first true success, the Mantis CD rack.

By 2000, the company had its first taste of a high profile through author Douglas Coupland of Vancouver. Coupland, himself a sculptor and designer, commissioned Pure Design to manufacture his Hockey Night In Canada coffee table. Shaped and coloured like the circle at centre ice, the table was seen by many as Edmonton’s first pop culture export. The company would work with other fine Canadian designers including Karim Rashid and Scot Laughton.

And if you watched TV carefully, you’d see a Pure Design standing coat rack in a lawyer’s office on Ally McBeal, a modular bookshelf and phone stand on a Telus commercial, and even a piece d’art in a Janet Jackson video.

Indeed, export was what Pure Design did best, with 80 percent of its output moving to shops outside Canada. Its work was hailed around the world for its retro, flamboyant and cutting-edge utilitarianism, while at home, there were few takers among local shops. Pure Design instead, saw its success in Toronto, Vancouver, Japan, the United Kingdom, Spain, and across the United States in such shops as Design Within Reach and the Terence Conran Shop.

In 2000, the company employed 30 people, had over 100 products on its roster, and enjoyed annual revenues in the $3 million range from more than 2,000 retail accounts worldwide.

Lilge left the firm in 2003 to concentrate on a line of ceramic home accents. The firm’s last gasp came in 2004, when it was unable to recover from the effects of a weak Canadian dollar and competition from lower-priced Chinese imports.

"There are a lot more options out there for consumers who want contemporary design," Dan Hlus told the Edmonton Journal, "but they aren’t considering the quality of the product."

Today, the company still functions, though on a much smaller scale than in the past. Hlus and McCoy continue to work on designers’ product lines and maintain a website at www.puredesignonline.com.

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