Colourful, eclectic, a modern day Renaissance man. Many descriptors have been attributed to the man and his work. However, like every piece in his creative collections, Canadian artist and designer Troy Smith is one-of-a-kind. The work of the self-taught visionary is bold, unique and edgy, drawing inspiration from his own life experiences and surroundings to create timeless statement pieces that feature new design concepts, materials, techniques and structures. Art for art’s sake.
Following in his father’s footsteps, Troy Smith grew up around home-building in British Columbia. After honing his skills as a carpenter with several construction companies, he moved to Toronto 10 years ago and started his own contractor business. But the construction industry could not contain the creative juices of the artist/designer, who soon after ventured into new territory.
Repurposing the past
Driven by a desire to create new products, Smith turned to his construction background to explore a long-held belief that rebar, traditionally used for concrete reinforcement, would be a great material to build things with. He married the material with his vision of timeless, one-of-a-kind furniture designs. Sketches evolved into two-dimensional blueprints. CAD drawings refined the forms, while renderings brought them to life through textures. Production soon began and Troy Smith’s 7-piece Rebar Collection was born.
“Sometimes I have an idea and start looking for the right material to build it with, while other times the material dictates the object in terms of how its form and function works,” says Smith. “From there, my approach has always been to design from an artisanal perspective, rather than to mass produce design trends.”
Built on foundations of powder coated, 1” thick solid rebar steel frames, the Rebar Collection transformed a simple piece of construction steel into sculptural form, infused with unique design elements that stand out as much as the artist himself. The colorful, eclectic, yet functional collection includes the CLEOPATRA WRITING DESK, with its custom ‘Melting Ice’ glass top and Macassar ebony floating drawers. The desk’s ‘Electric Purple’ sculpted rebar foundation and handles give light and life to the design, reflecting a theme of vibrant color that characterizes the collection. The NEFERTITI DRESSING MIRROR is illuminated by lime green rebar, while the twisted, vibrant telemagenta frame of the COBRA SIDE TABLE colorfully supports its low-iron Starphire glass top.
Baptism by fire
Armed with an avant-garde collection, Troy Smith’s introduction to the international design community was a baptism by fire. With literally no formal design training or education, his Rebar Collection first created a buzz in 2013 at the IDS in Toronto, followed by further recognition at the ICFF in Manhattan. Azure magazine subsequently featured his work, while Interior Design tapped Troy Smith’s Rebar Collection as one of the 50 best of the ICFF.
“It was a learning process while diving into the deep end of the design world,” recalls Smith. “There is so much more to being a designer than just building furniture, and I really didn’t know anything about branding or following up on sales.”
Evolution in progress
The Rebar Collection also provided Smith with tremendous insight into the manufacturing process, and he turned his attention to establishing relationships with the right people to build his complicated designs. That process took him to Italy, where new materials like solid brass with mirror finish and French crushed velvet evolved into the FLUTE SOFA. Smith would later combine light-shifting Crazy Glass, lacquered mahogany and solid mirror brass into the CRAZY BAR, giving life to yet another one-of-a-kind collection.
“I don’t build square boxes. But while my designs are wild and different, I put a lot of practicality into the pieces that I build to ensure that they serve a purpose,” he explains. “Form and function are great friends, and I don’t subscribe to design without usefulness.”
Troy Smith views the world through art-colored glasses, and his collections are reflections of that world. Design is ever-present in his environment, from his custom tailored bright red suit, to his self-renovated Rosedale home, immersed in colours, textures and art in all of its forms. The walls of his home are engulfed in large canvasses, including some of his own acrylic paintings that embody the same colourful characteristics as his furniture. He is also an avid collector of ancient jewellery, including bracelets and rings, and the Renaissance man boasts a modest 300-bottle wine cellar collection.
Away from home, Smith immerses himself in the world of art and design, visiting museums all over the world and studying architectural trends, layouts, proportions and material selections. He views furniture as just the first stop on a long artistic journey…his medium of the moment…and he plans to continue building new products and growing his brand. He continues to learn and refine his artistic talents, and his personal passion for clothing, jewellery and architecture may soon evolve into vocational pursuits.
“Fashion, art, architecture, decorative arts and furniture are all tied together,” he explains. “It all fits into the same house, or under one big umbrella.”
About Troy Smith Designs
As Troy Smith’s passion for creating new art forms takes on a life of its own, his work continues to garner attention at international design shows and prestigious exhibitions. His furniture collections now feature 26 unique designs, which curators, architects, decorators and private clients vie for on elite marketplace sites including 1st Dibs, Decaso and Incollect.