Meet Jean-Claude LeBlanc
Born in Canada in 1974, Jean-Claude LeBlanc grew up in a rural bilingual town in Saskatchewan. His mother made art for their home using local materials such as wood, flowers, and wool. Working at his father’s lumber mill, he gained valuable knowledge about the manufacturing process and developed a hands on approach to creating. In the late 80’s, LeBlanc moved to the city and discovered skateboarding. Customizing and personalizing his style and gear became his obsession, shaping his vision to this day. LeBlanc’s interest in design grew as he discovered the work of fashion designers and architects, most notably, RAIC Gold Medal receiver Peter Cardew, who later became his mentor and Architect on several projects including the Lieutenant Governor Award-winning ‘LeBlanc House’. With no formal design education, the serial entrepreneur has started several companies ranging from construction to real estate development and fashion design. His clothing brand Blanc & Noir compelled LeBlanc to travel extensively, visiting manufacturers in Japan and Italy to resolve details and further his knowledge on how things are made. This exposure to technology and craft focused his work towards projects which allowed him to work directly with materials focusing on objects and clothing which are both raw and enduring. Jean-Claude on how he got into product design: "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 Koolhaus’ 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 really enjoyed the process and like the way the homewares industry operates so I decided to try and make a business of it and see where it takes me." We're happy to have you Jean-Claude at GARDE.