Tell us a bit about yourself.
We are John Booth and Arounna Khounnoraj, a husband and wife design team residing in Toronto, Canada where we make things. John started as a painter and moved on to architecture before settling on making furniture. Arounna started out making more sculptural work until a residency at the Harbourfront Centre in Toronto changed her path in designing and making textile goods. In our bookhou products we share in the designing, drawing and making. Arounna also writes a blog and she is also in the midst of working on her fourth issue of b.a.h. magazine, an online magazine based on the blog.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
We have two kids, Lliam (5 years old) and Piper (2.5 years old) and when we are not working our time is devoted to them. We also run a brick-and-mortar shop that is also our studio and home.
Where does your inspiration come from?
John: Landscape has always been an important part of my mindset — not the picturesque kind that you can put a frame around, but the things that accumulate or result from actions like weather, forces of nature that create shapes, etc.
Arounna: My inspiration comes from my surroundings — patterns and shapes found in nature and in my urban environment.
What does handmade mean to you?
Not everything needs to be handmade, but some things do — otherwise they seem to lack the care and attention that makes it evident that a person was there.
Who has been most influential in your craft?
There’s a lot of work we do separately but since we’re partners and co-everything the most obvious choice is each other.
When did you know you were an artist/maker?
John: When I was quite young I always thought with my hands — I was always painting and drawing and my mother had a paint set that she gave me. But I’m not sure if there was one exact moment when I knew.
Arounna: I’ve been making things for as long as I can remember — my hands were always busy from making beaded jewellery to carving wood, making clay pots to sewing. I was encouraged as a kid to not restrict myself to one thing and to explore and express myself with different materials.
How would you describe your creative process?
John: In terms of theory I have always felt that my underlying purpose was to formalize scribbles into things, sometimes useful and sometimes not. I do a lot of drawing and let them sit, sometimes for years. Some of these drawings resurface and become something.
Arounna: My work begins as drawings and becomes prototypes before the final product. I sketch all the time and I don’t necessarily use those ideas immediately — sometimes they need to germinate for a while. Generally my process in designing and making is quick compared to John’s work, because once I choose an element I can very quickly turn it into a product or object.
If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
John: For furniture Finn Juhl, for painting Willem de Kooning, for architecture Enric Miralles.
Arounna: Eva Hesse because of her sensibility and use of material, Louise Bourgeois for her drawings and her use of fibre and Kiki Smith because of her broad diversity in imagery, narrative and how she incorporates that into different mediums.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
John: There are things that I cherish because I have fond memories, such as an old wooden hockey game that my father played with when he was young, or my leather cylindrical tube that I bought from an antique dealer in England — it has a shape that suggests an object, but no one knows what anymore. But I have to say that right now I cherish the drawings and odd little things my children make me the most.
Arounna: A watercolour painting of a flower John painted for me before we were together. It was also the image we used on our wedding invitations.
Where would you like to be in ten years?
I think we would both like to be in the same place we are now, but with more help in the production of our pieces so we could have more time to spend with family and friends. Maybe also a bigger space to work in.