Passions quickly become obsessions for Canadian designer Jean-Claude LeBlanc. When he first moved out of home, from the rural bilingual town of Saskatchewan, to the city, he discovered skateboarding. Soon he was customising his clothes and gear, and it wasn’t too much longer before he created a clothing brand. More recently when Jean-Claude started to look for a vase, his obsessive nature looked towards a new horizon. Now he is focussed on product and furniture design.
Which five words best describe you? Funny, focused, loyal, determined, sarcastic.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I wasn’t planning on working in the furniture or product design industry. My clothing brand was struggling at the time and I wasn’t happy with the fashion business model and was looking to make some changes. My home has always been very important to me and I enjoy collecting furniture and objects from my travels. I had been looking for a vase to house a succulent plant for my bedside table but wasn’t finding anything that I liked. I had taken some industrial design courses years ago, one of which was model-making so I decided to make a model of a shape I had in mind, based on Rem Koolhaas’ Casa Da Musica building in Portugal.
I bought some rigid styrofoam, a material commonly used for modelling and started sculpting until I was satisfied with a shape. I knew I wanted it to be made from marble so I began visiting local stone sculptors until I found one that would take on the project. It took almost a year to get from my model to a marble prototype as I was being shuffled between various sculptors and having problems getting the right stone. Nancy Bendtsen from Inform Interiors in Vancouver had seen a picture of the prototype and asked if I’d be interested in selling them in her store. I said, of course, but I would need some time to figure out how to produce it and resolve the packaging. Six frustrating months later I had the Core marble collection selling at Inform and being very well received. I decided to just go with it and make it a business. I’ve since brought on a business partner and we’ve been expanding our product line and our list of dealers ever since.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Always stick to your gut instinct and stay the course.
What’s your proudest career achievement? I haven’t accomplished anything yet!
What’s been your best decision? Bringing on a business partner.
What are you passionate about? All design, including fashion and architecture.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? My grandfather.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? I’ve always wanted to climb Everest. Although I’m sure the idea sounds a lot more fun than the reality.
What are you reading? A broken hallelujah: Rock and roll, redemption, and the life of Leonard Cohen by Liel Leibovitz.
images courtesy of jean-claude leblanc