VIATEC posted an articleTinka Robev and Andrew Azzopardi have put some interesting twists into a good old-fashioned pastime. see more
Source: Times Colonist
Author: Darron Kloster
Photographer: Darren Stone
During these times of self-isolation, family bubbles and lockdowns, Tinka Robev and Andrew Azzopardi have put some interesting twists into a good old-fashioned pastime.
The Victoria entrepreneurs have created the Puzzle Lab, a modern take on the timeless jigsaw puzzle that uses sustainable materials, visually stimulating artwork and custom computer algorithms and robotics to create complex, unique geometrical pieces.
These aren’t your typical 100-piece sets. Every piece is a unique shape, which provides challenges even to experienced puzzlers.
“We wanted to present a thoughtful new product line to the world — one that encompasses our passions for beautiful aesthetics, computational design, digital fabrication and good old-fashioned analog fun,” said Robev.
The Puzzle Lab is an offshoot from the partners’ Robazzo Studio on Douglas Street, where they provide branding, websites and interior installations for businesses. It’s an extension of another successful foray called West Coasters, where they made artistic coaster sets from locally sourced logs. That enterprise sold 120,000 units locally and around the world before it wound down this year.
The shift to puzzles better aligned with the company’s high-tech processes, said Azzopardi, who was ramping up puzzle production after a recent launch.
As of Wednesday, they had shipped about 150 boxes.
The Puzzle Lab currently has 12 puzzles available in three categories: flora and fauna, abstract and landscapes. All are rectangle-vertical except the circular Mandala #1. They retail for $55 each and are available online at puzzle-lab.com
The puzzles are cut from one-quarter-inch birch plywood, sourced at the Cook Street Castle lumber store. The packaging is done by Victoria-based Metropol with no plastics, and shipping is carbon-neutral through a carbon-credit offset program, Robev said, adding the company will be scaled on demand.
The product is available online right now, but could be open to retailers if there’s interest. They are also creating customized puzzles where companies can choose their art for corporate gifts, and working out plans to partner with charities to use the puzzles as fundraisers.
Robev and Azzopardi met at the University of Waterloo’s School of Architecture, moved to Victoria in 2014 and started their studio.
Azzopardi said the lab’s puzzles differ not only in the images they use, but the process of designing each piece. Traditional puzzles are cut from dies, usually stamped out on tick layered paper, using five to 10 different shapes.
The technology used in Puzzle Lab draws from Azzopardi’s passion for parametric, computational and generative design that involves writing custom computer algorithms to generate unique geometry for each piece and using robots such as laser cutters, 3D printers and computer numerical control routers to create complex shapes.
Robev’s eye and expertise are behind the visual graphics.
She said manufacturing puzzles makes sense, as people are self-isolating amid the pandemic and finding ways “to get off their screens.”
“The time we’re in is unexpected and tricky,” the partners said. “We were inspired to create something unexpected and tricky that feeds the soul, challenges the mind and satisfies our collective craving to overcome or solve puzzles in our lives.”
Tessa Bousfield posted an articleMain takeaways from Friday’s exhibition of Victoria’s emerging and established companies. see more
Five Takeaways from Discover Tectoria 2018
VIATEC’s 2018 Discover Tectoria event was a friendly and engaging introduction for Limbic Media’s new marketing team. Having seen Victoria’s vibrant tech sector with fresh eyes, here are our main takeaways from Friday’s exhibition of Victoria’s emerging and established companies.
1. Interactivity is king
Nestled in Discover Tectoria’s Creativity Hub, most foot traffic seemed to flock to booths with elements of interactivity. Limbic Media’s Aurora tent invited visitors of all ages into a meditative, darkened space to make music and translate their creativity into a visual experience. Next door, FIRST Robotics BC opened up a floor space for people to engage with robotic vehicles. The most intriguing sound over the event’s wall of voices came from Monkey C Interactive. With little instruction, the interactive Registroid forced people to explore sounds and become their own artist. Also present in the Creativity Hub was Studio Robazzo, helping bring forward the role of technology in art, emphasizing how tech and art are really one and the same. Discover Tectoria succeeds in creating more avenues for audiences of all ages to participate in the creative process.
2. Tech is a kid-centric industry
Even though Discover Tectoria provides ample opportunity to network whether you’re an investor, an existing tech company, or looking for a new career, Discover Tectoria builds on elements of interactivity by involving kids and their role in tech. Outside the Creativity Hub, Discover Tectoria focused on edutainment in The Combustion Chamber by showcasing technologies and experiments for families through presentations and audience involvement, and Engineering for Kids took a more of an industry-specific approach to kick-starting young interest in tech. Discover Tectoria is a venue that recognizes the importance of getting young minds churning early, and highlighting tech that all ages can relate to.
3. Victoria’s tech industry is becoming ever more visible
Discover Tectoria is widening the industry’s audience not only for kids, but for all walks of life. Even just four years ago, the influence of the tech industry in Victoria’s economy wasn’t necessarily all that obvious. Unless you were looking for it, the number of vibrant technology companies gracing downtown office space wasn’t visible—but in a short time, the sector has emerged as the city’s top industry, and events like Discover Tectoria are making that fact widely known to the public. The average tech conference bustles with entrepreneurs, startups, press and VCs. Discover Tectoria stands out by making the public of all ages its primary audience. It encourages people to participate and discover what goes on in our city behind the long-standing face of tourism and government.
4. We need to start thinking of Victoria more as a city and less as a town
Victoria is a tight community, and its tech community is even tighter-this is part of what makes Victoria so appealing. However, it also puts us in danger of staying in a “tourist town” mentality by telling the same old Victorian story over and over. Because of rapid growth in recent years, both in population, real-estate, and industries like tech, Victoria is going through growing pains and developing new identities. We are no longer the flowery city of the newly-wed and nearly dead. Discover Tectoria makes it clear that the tech industry is helping change the face of our narrative, putting us on the map globally as a city on the forefront of technology and culture.
5. Victoria’s various sectors need to strengthen their partnerships
Speaking of tourism and the growth of Victoria’s industries, an audience member posed a pertinent question during the Innovation Theatre talk on Creative Storytelling: What are some examples of how the tech and hospitality industries have collaborated in Victoria?
Although there have been a number of initiatives bridging tech and tourism in Victoria in the last couple years, the ensuing pause said a lot about the visibility of that collaboration, especially between tourism and Victoria’s authentic cultural and arts scene. According to the speakers, Victoria’s various industries often feel like they’re in still competing in spite of newly formed partnerships. Discover Tectoria provided a public forum that clearly has open arms to outside industries, given the opportunity to join forces. The overall message was simple: ”Come talk to us. We have lots of ideas and we can make them happen.”
Whether or not last Friday’s exhibition was your first Discover Tectoria, the event had something new for everyone—from toddlers interacting with tech edutainment, to investors checking out emerging local companies, to Limbic’s marketing team getting familiarized with our city’s vibrant tech community. Victoria is a unique climate of rapidly growing industries, and Viatec’s event was an inviting summary of the potential 2018 has to bring for our city’s tech sector.
Tessa Bousfield posted an articleSidney’s AXYS Technologies, which won the marine industry award, works on finding solutions for.... see more
EcoStar acknowledges Island’s greenest businesses
The Island’s top green and environmentally friendly businesses were honoured Nov. 10 at the 2016 EcoStar Awards at the Laurel Point Inn.
A full house of 135 got a glimpse into the steps Island businesses are taking to improve their environmental performance and reduce their carbon footprint.
“The biggest part of the night and what really stands out about the event is it brings out those stories of local businesses who are working to make a difference within their own businesses and we get to learn a lot about what the winners have done to make changes and what impact that has,” said Jill Doucette, chief executive of Synergy Enterprises, whose non-profit arm — the Synergy Sustainability Institute — organizes the awards.
There were 17 winners. Doucette said Victoria’s Finest at Sea Seafood stood out as an example of what many companies discover when they turn their hand to improving environmental performance.
“That company found that by tackling these sustainability issues there was some real cost-saving advantages too,” she said. “FAS took the microscope to its operation and found lots of little tweaks within the operation that made a huge impact — by the end of the day they cut more than half of their water use. “So it’s good for the planet and good for their bottom line. Those kinds of stories are really exciting.”
Duncan’s Blue Roots Farm, started by Daniel Adelman and Courtney Edwards in 2015, was named eco-entrepreneur of the year for its farming methods.
Part of the running of the farm is raising steelhead trout and circulating nutrient rich water over plant roots. The roots take in the nutrients and grow greens and herbs in vertical towers.
The closed-loop ecosystem uses 98 per cent less water than traditional agriculture and more productive .
Sidney’s AXYS Technologies, which won the marine industry award, works on finding solutions for renewable energy projects and in so doing plays a role in making clean energy accessible and affordable for more people.
The company has taken steps to further reduce its own environmental impact, by installing motion-sensing lights in all bathrooms, making all company events zero-waste and serving local food only, improving recycling sorting stations and removing individual trash cans from employees' desks to encourage waste diversion.
Doucette said most of the companies that won awards don’t take on environmental projects with the idea of luring new customers, but it can happen. “They do find the consumer is changing and is really receptive to learning more about what businesses are doing behind the scenes to be more responsible,” she said.
2016 Eco Star Award Winners
- Greenest Office: Monk Office
- Greenest Retail Store: Inspire Hair Design
- Small Restaurant 1-25 Employees: Habit Coffee
- Large Restaurant 25+ Employees: Big Wheel Burger, Gateway Village
- Manufacturing Excellence: Studio Robazzo
- The Eco-Preneur of the Year: Blue Roots Farm
- Technology Excellence: Carmanah Technologies
- Experiential Tourism: Eagle Wing Tours
- Lodging & Accomodations: Parkside Hotel
- Leadership In Construction: Bernhardt Contracting
- Water Conservation & Stewardship: Finest at Sea Seafood Producers
- Marine Industry: AXYS Technologies
- Food Security: Haliburton Farm
- Climate Action: Orca Spirit Adventures
- Social Impact: Pacific Rim College
- Waste Management: Big Wheel Burger
- Community Environmental Leadership: Inn at Laurel Point