In tandem with the launch of our newest style, Utility One, we’ve connected with local utilitarian creators to bring you our Meet the Makers series. We got the chance to meet and photograph Mo Shabani, creative director and founder of Manner Studio.
Mo is a furniture designer who creates thoughtfully crafted, high quality pieces, as well as a millworker who has designed the interior of commercial retail stores including cult-favourites KOTN and Mejuri. His journey to get where he is today has taken him across a handful of countries. Mo began his career in construction where he built his tool proficiency and the foundation of his knowledge. He then moved to London, England and happened to start working for a fashion company who did all of their retail build-out in-house. He got to travel Europe working on their store design team and opening new retail and concept stores.
Though he was passionate about his field of work, he realized he didn’t love the fast fashion element of his job at the time. He wanted to build things that were long lasting, things that would be with people for prolonged periods of time. Life took him to Philadelphia, where he met his creative partner, developed a line of furniture, and fell in love with the craft and the slower pace of intentional design. His goal became to create carefully considered pieces of heirloom quality– items that can be passed on through generations.
Sustainability quickly became a priority in Mo’s work. All the wood he sources is FSC certified (the gold standard of wood), meaning it’s sustainably harvested from renewable sources within North America. Regarding longevity, he says “I don’t want [a piece] thrown away. I want you to call me in 10 years and be like, my chair is starting to look a bit dull. We’ll pop over and add another coat of beeswax polish and it’ll look new again.” He explains that North America has a plethora of beautiful wood and resources, and he would never source rare wood from places like Africa or the amazon.
Mo made the move from Philly to Vancouver, where he started Manner Studio. He’s been slowly building his studio collection and doing custom millwork for residences and commercial spaces. A typical work day for him can mean anything from putting his apron on and silencing his phone in order to (quite literally) bang out a bunch of pieces, to playing with prototypes and weird proof-of-concepts to see if anything sticks.
A concept we love to consider at Casca is function versus aesthetics. We asked Mo his view on this and he says, “Function overrides form, but it's that harmony, it’s finding that equilibrium between the two that’s ideal.” This speaks directly to his work ethos of making incremental changes and being thoughtful, intentional, and aware of all the decisions he makes. Finally, we asked Mo what his favourite part of his job is. He said, “In the end, when we deliver a piece to someone’s house. They welcome it into their home like 'this is going to be part of my ritual'. That’s huge, it’s your space and it's intimate. Seeing someone delighted to take it in is so important.”
Find Mo & Manner Studio online: