10 to Watch 2015: Raincoast Contoured Panels

“Imagine if the design elements in your project weren’t limited by what you could find, but by what you could envision?”

Photograph by Jeffrey Bosdet.

From designers to architects, to artists, businesses and homeowners, everyone who sees the 3D decorative wall installations from Raincoast Contoured Panels has a similar reaction: I need to have this.

That’s the reaction Gordon Smith had when he saw the potential of using a CNC machine and intuitive software to create a form of architectural art unique in the design world. Smith, owner of Cowichan Woodwork, then sought out another respected woodwork specialist, Rick Beason of Raincoast Door and Specialty Wood Products. Together, they launched Raincoast Contoured Panels.

Since then, Raincoast has received rave reviews at Buildex and IDS West, exhibitions visited by the design and architecture crème de la crème.

In their Forest Stewardship Council-certified facility, Raincoast can ‘precision machine’ almost any material, from wood to Corian, using the client’s design or theirs, in unlimited colours, textures and sizes.

Island Savings’ Chemainus branch, for instance, features a stunning 52-foot by 16-foot contoured wall from Raincoast. Stikeman Elliott, a Vancouver law firm, boasts a backlit ceiling created to look like bark. Raincoast panels are also popular landscapes for brand names and logos.

Northwest Coast artist Rande Cook, quickly saw the potential for creating 3D contoured “prints” of his work. Each piece becomes an original, signable by the artist. Cook will show a golf-leaf piece at the Inuit Gallery of Vancouver, opening July 25. And watch for 14 high-profile works of public art from Raincoast, coming to Richmond this summer.

Q&A with Rick Beason & Gordon Smith of Raincoast

When did you first realize you were really onto something amazing?

Rick: The first show we did was IDS West in Vancouver. I was absolutely flabbergasted with the reaction from the design community. They were completely amazed. When I called my wife … I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. I couldn’t stop talking about it.

What advice would you give to others just starting out?

Gordon: There’s an advantage in being our age and a disadvantage as well. The advantage is, we bring a lot of background and experience. We understand the market, we have the network and that’s of huge benefit. You don’t always have that when you’re a young entrepreneur. So it’s reminding people that you can be an entrepreneur at 50 or 58 — or any age.

Raincoast Contoured Panels Business Profile

Type of business: Custom-designed architectural panels

Year founded: 2012

Owners/principals: Rick Beason and Gordon Smith

Employees: 20

What sets you apart? Never before has the building industry been offered the opportunity for customer-designed 3D contoured wall panels and components.

This article is from the April/May 2015 issue of Douglas.