By Victoria Katarzyna Bajer
AeroPod by Dean Jackson breathes life back into the world of furniture through its exquisite elegance and style. Each of these unique pieces encapsulates the magic of glamorous, early to mid 20th century artisanship, while still maintaining an innovative and fresh character. We sat down with Dean Jackson of Custom Wood Designs, inside Toronto’s Hotel Le Germain to discuss his early beginnings, key inspirations, and principle ideals on modern craftsmanship.
The birth of AeroPod stems from Jackson’s deep love for art and design, it is something that he’s always passionately pursued. In 1984, Jackson graduated from Waterloo University with a major in Fine and Studio Arts. At the young age of 18, he registered to start his own business where he could flourish as a young artist while simultaneously making a living. He gives credit to his crafty and artistic grandparents who always actively supported his dreams. “I grew up thinking this creative behavior was perfectly normal and commonplace. So going into business for myself seemed like the natural thing to do, and kind of justified my pursuit of art when everyone else was studying engineering or economics in order to land a ‘real job.'” Jackson said with a smile. Now with 33 years of experience under his belt, Jackson gave us a look into his journey of creating a truly unique piece of furniture.
Starting a business was a perfectly sound plan, one that combined his passion for artistry with the potential to make a profit. However, there were still valuable lessons to be learned Jackson explained, “I soon realized my “make stuff and they will come” business plan was somewhat flawed, and so adopted a “design and build to order” policy which led to lots of happy customers getting exactly what they wanted who then referred me to their friends and so on.”
Twenty years later, with an abundance of worldly experience under his belt he decided to pursue his dreams of creating a new kind of art. Art that in Jackson’s words “combines the expression of an inspired sculptor with the functionality and craftsmanship of a furniture maker.” At this point he was able to contribute the vast amount of skill and experience he gained over the years to craft an impeccable product.
The only missing ingredient was a source of inspiration, something that would fuel and drive his talent. “It was only after seeing some ’50s retro-style appliances and losing myself in the fumes of a classic car auction that I realized my career focus was about to change. These colorful, shiny rockets of steel and chrome were, to me at least, more inspiring than any of the art I had seen in Europe.” He said excitedly as he reminisced the past. “I could think of nothing more than creating a new signature piece of art/furniture that borrowed from these brilliant automotive forms of classic times.” The enthusiasm and sentiment in his voice was clear; this was the moment a new vision was born.
The important question is: what exactly is an AeroPod? An AeroPod is a finely crafted treasure chest that can be used to store anything from wines to expensive watches. They are a stunning sight and bring an aura of class to every room that holds their presence. The cost for a custom made AeroPod is $18,000 dollars and up depending on the complexity of the design. When developing a new model, Jackson asks potential buyers questions like: what is their favourite colour on a car and what type of collectible would they like to showcase. This ensures that each creation is molded to reflect the buyer’s preference.
When asked what kind of models are possible to construct, Jackson answered “I see many possible combinations, like half humidor and half brandy cabinet, or watch winders with jewellery drawers, etc. Really, if I can put a waterfall in one (number 11), there’s not much I can’t make to fit inside.” These chests are designed using the finest burl woods, chrome accents, and authentic colours from classic automobiles. In this fashion, an AeroPod is a product that evokes nostalgia for vintage luxury but maintains the feeling of novelty.
The name AeroPod is unique and quite futuristic; with this in mind I curiously asked about the origin and meaning behind the name to which Jackson explained, “When seeking a name for my current series, I looked at 1950’s car advertisements and found terms like “‘Hydra- Matic’, ‘Dynaflow’ and ‘Strato-Flite’. Since it was pod-like in shape (think 2001: A Space Odyssey) and aerodynamic looking, like cars from that period, I chose the name AeroPod. So now I use the name ‘AeroPod by Dean Jackson’, as it most accurately describes my new focus.”
The task of producing this new vision was definitely not an easy one since there were many new skillsets to be acquired. Jackson then embarked on learning new skills such as: composite mould making, bronze casting, metal spinning, polishing and plating, CNC routing, automotive finishing and many others in order to make his dream into a reality. It was surely not done in vain because in 2004 the Ferrari Red AeroPod had a debut at the Toronto International Auto Show. The debut was a grand success, AeroPod won first place in the Automotive Art Competition, proving its prestige in the world of design. The philosophy behind the brand arose after Jackson realized that mass selling and producing Aeropods would be irreverent to his artwork. “It was then that I decided to model all future AeroPods on the concept of Fabergé eggs, limiting production to 49 so that those who do buy one know that they have the only one like it in the world.” He said smoothly. What is more, due to the rarity and limited quantity, each AeroPod is an investment that will only grow in value after the last one is produced.
The allusion to Peter Carl Fabergé’s eggs hints back to a time in history when attention to intricate detail and design was vital. The skill and creativity that was poured into crafting goods in the 19th century are certainly values to emulate. Making a difference in the world through art and creating a product that evokes meaning are two principles that Jackson firmly believes in, he stated that “Art has taught me that money has very little meaning in life; it slips in and out of our lives as a mere necessity and isn’t worth the attention we give it.” Ingrained in his work is a philosophy and culture that transcends time and fights for human creativity. He went on to say that, “the things that stand out and last are those we make with our hearts and our hands.” AeroPods stand out with their design because they are poetic by nature; each one has a unique spirit embedded into it that captures the souls of both the artist and owner. What drives Jackson to create is the journey of turning an idea into a reality, the feeling, he explained is thrilling and provides a profound sense of accomplishment.
There’s a long process that goes into every single piece, “working out all the details for a new prototype takes about a year and a half.” There is a lot of love, care and dedication that goes into each and every step to ensure that the AeroPod is fine-tuned to perfection. Jackson’s work pays homage to incredible people in history who were cultural leaders. When asked about the people who influenced his work the most, he responded, ” It is those who think differently who I admire the most. Artists such as Michelangelo, Picasso and Cezanne all thought that way, as did architects Antonio Gaudi and Frank Lloyd Wright. I have seen great art and architecture throughout this world, and it never ceases to inspire me to make my own mark on history.”
With AeroPod, Dean Jackson brings art, culture and soul back into a world that is oversaturated with corporate commodities that hold no meaningful substance. His vision takes the beauty of old fashioned craftsmanship and merges it with the practical technologies of the future. AeroPod is an anthem for unique entrepreneurs and an inspiration to Canadian artistry.
Please use the following link for further inquiries: Dean Jackson Designs