Bon Eco Turns 10

Angela Saxe

Bon Eco Design, before and after.

[This article ran in the April/May 2015 issue of The SCOOP.]

2005 was a very dynamic year in Tamworth; two very creative people combined their talents and created a vibrant design company that has grown steadily over the past decade.

Carolyn Butts was an exhibit designer and fabricator at the Museum of Civilization as well as an event designer for Corel Centre (Scotiabank Place) before leaving Ottawa in 2000 and moving to Tamworth to raise her son in a small and friendly community. 

Hans Honegger is a restoration architect who was the co-director of the Main Street Programme for Heritage Canada (National Trust) and has worked across the country on the regeneration of small towns. He last worked as Project Manager for Public Works, Parliament Hill before moving to Tamworth in 2005.

Carolyn and Hans had a vision for their new business venture that reflected their own personal beliefs. Bon Eco Design would become a design house whose products and designs are inspired by nature and reflect their desire to protect it. When they first opened their retail shop and gallery, they sold products such as the very popular RIMS Recovery Inspired Mirrors and other interior d├ęcor pieces fabricated from tires. Soon they were involved with community projects in the area: The sculpture on the side wall of the Waterfall Tearoom next to the bridge in the village of Yarker honours the history of the people of the area. Since then, they have done consulting work on museum exhibits and on regeneration plans for small communities. Their current projects include designing eight bronze sculptures for Newmarket Ontario as well as designing, fabricating, and installing animal enrichment devices for the Bowmanville Zoo.

Another key component in Bon Eco’s mission is to actively play a role in maintaining the health of the environment in local communities. Carolyn and Hans have worked hard to bring awareness to the public about landfill sites and to provide alternatives for diverting waste, transforming it and restoring it in a sustainable and environmentally sound method. 

Bon Eco’s vision extends beyond products and design; they also want to provide the opportunity for national and international visitors to share their ideas and skills. Three furnished suites in the historic building of 12 Concession Street in Tamworth welcome guests who either want the peace and quiet to do their own creative work, or to participate in some of Bon Eco’s workshops and discussion groups.

"We’re proud of taking a small little design company and making it grow in a small rural village. There are challenges," says Carolyn, "these are tough economic times and there’s a lot of competition from cheap and disposable offshore goods, but we have bold ideas for the future and we know that we can achieve them."

How about the next ten years? Carolyn envisions designing a regional development program for Stone Mills that will make the community more resilient. "We care about the wilderness and the watersheds and we will continue to work with other community groups to ensure its health."

Developing a design house that walks its talk is one of the reasons for Bon Eco’s success; taking waste that was destined for landfill sites and transforming the materials into new products is creative, inspiration and it’s good ecology.