The 25th annual Winnipeg New Music Festival won't be only about music this year. It'll also be about the furniture.
The Centennial Concert Hall is giving New Music Festival attendees a chance to take in shows from the comfort of Winnipeg-based Oi's contemporary, Tetris-like furniture.
"The best way to describe it is, it's kind of like Lego for adults," Oi founder and CEO Jason Abbott says. "We've got furniture that's modular and that enables folks at the music festival this weekend to create a variety of different seating conditions for their event."
The furniture is made of plastic sourced from facilities in Winnipeg and Winkler. It also contains a high density foam and removable cover.
The company has been in the furniture business for about two years. Abbott says the "seed of an idea" for the furniture formed almost a decade ago, when an arm of the Canadian government approached members of the firm looking to showcase Canadian design at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York City.
"They challenged us to come up with a new concept, so we took on the challenge, came up with a brand, which was called Oi Furniture, and it was built on the fundamentals of fun, easy and eco — those were the underlying principles," Abbot says, adding they went on to develop a prototype and displayed it at the fair
"We certainly thought we were on to something."
The majority of the company's sales are in Canada and the United States currently, but there's been interest as far afield as Taiwan, Abbott says. The appeal of the furniture comes down to its flexibility, Abbott adds.
"You can recreate a seating environment for two people to 10 people to 15, you can have independent chairs or you can group them together in what would commonly be referred to as a sofa or sectional," he says. "Really, that is the primary reason why our customers and our clients love our furniture."
Festival-goers will be allowed to play with and arrange pieces in whatever way they see fit next weekend in the Piano Nobile section of the concert hall.
The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra's New Music Festival runs from Jan. 23 to Jan. 29.