SME Universe | A design award for cookware from Montreal

The cookware that Montrealer Kate Swanson invented may not be rechargeable, but it is plugged in. Enough to win the Stackware cookware collection in the prestigious Red Dot Design Award competition in Germany in March.

Posted on April 4

Marc Tison

Marc Tison
The press

Stackware stainless steel pans feature removable handles, which allow them to fit together to take up minimal cupboard space.

Kate Swanson was inspired by this in her kitchen on the Avenue De Chateaubriand.

“The idea comes from the fact that I love to cook and spend a lot of time in my kitchen,” she says.

Whether she lived in Montreal or Toronto, wherever she lived, she struggled to store all her utensils there.

“It made me realize that it was not my apartments that were too small, but the products that were poorly designed. I thought that with a good design we could find a solution. †

Ah! She’s a designer?

“Actually, I’m a lawyer,” the young woman replies.

She was still a lawyer when the problem arose and the obvious became clear: the sleeves had to come off.

In 2017, she ended a five-year legal career to found her company, which she named Ensembl. “I believed in it enough and had the feeling that there was a demand for these types of products. †

The principle of removable sleeves was not new. It was all part of it. “I knew this handle had to feel safe and at the same time be very easy to use. The design and development were tough and we devoted the early years of our company to it. †


She entrusted the task of refining the concept to San Francisco-based American designer Chris Harsacky, whom she had heard about through friends.

He designed a long handle that is firmly attached to one of the two pot stems. Like two ears placed vertically, the two steel handles are laser welded instead of riveted, ensuring a perfectly smooth connection.

The handle engages in their central opening and is blocked thanks to a lock operated with the finger by a button. The patented mechanism is discreetly placed under the handle, creating the impression of a regular pan when in place. The slim tempered glass lids have a folding handle.

To make her battery, Kate Swanson saw a few Chinese manufacturers on the Internet, asked them for samples, and then went to meet the best candidates on the spot. She retained the services of a family business specializing in metal lamination.

The first pieces should have been shipped in spring 2020, but the pandemic has pushed delivery to early 2021.

The online distribution on the company’s transaction site was initially aimed at the US market, “but we hope to introduce our product to more people in Canada, and especially Quebec,” explains the founder.

A full set of six saucepans, including three handles and five lids, costs $1,390.

Really crazy Friday

Last November, a few days before American Thanksgiving and are inseparable black fridayan article in the Wall Street Journal ranked the Stackware battery among the 11 best gifts for (true) wine and food lovers.

Until then, Kate Swanson had been convinced that her Mississauga warehouse had enough cookware to meet holiday demand, but Black Friday lived up to its name and ran out of stock in half a day. Another delivery was on the way, but it sold out in pre-sale for the holidays before it arrived.

Result: “we had 700% growth in the fourth quarter”.

The company, where her husband joined her, now has five employees spread across Canada and the United States. The headquarters has only recently moved from the apartment on Avenue De Chateaubriand to boulevard Henri-Bourassa Ouest.

In order to better meet US demand, Ensembl will open a warehouse in the US at the end of April.

Kate Swanson plans to launch additional accessories soon and will then tackle another iconic product: “There are several other poorly designed items in our homes, which could make a different way of looking at things more aesthetically pleasing and functional.”

An employer grants a statutory holiday for Earth Day


Total Fabrication’s factory is located in Saint-Alexandre-de-Kamouraska.

It is not the employees of Total Fabrication who will complain about it. The general manager of the Saint-Alexandre-de-Kamouraska company, Anthony Poitras, has just instituted a holiday for Earth Day, April 22. Less travel will help reduce greenhouse gas production. The manufacturer of household products and body soaps of the Pure brand does not abdicate its responsibility for the environment: it offers its 40 employees free online training from Florence-Léa Siry on the Zero Gaspi Challenge. This isn’t a one-time opportunity: paid time off is now on the company’s agenda. Anthony Poitras encourages employers concerned about the health of the planet to follow suit. As for the environment, “every small gesture is part of the solution,” he said in his press release. “I therefore invite all entrepreneurs who want to make a difference to follow this example by offering this day to their employees. It’s a symbolic action, of course, but if several get on board, it can have a real impact. An initiative that every green employee (or not) can only encourage.

Tennis Canada chooses Termaco’s electrical storage system


The Termaco factory and a TREE modular electrical storage and charging unit, during a visit by the Minister of Economy and Innovation, Pierre Fitzgibbon, last January.

They are playing doubles: on March 28, Tennis Canada signed an agreement with Québec Termaco to acquire its intelligent modular electrical storage and charging system TREE. The device will prevent the IGA stadium from using polluting diesel generators. Entirely designed and manufactured in Quebec, the Termaco Reserve Electrical Energy (TREE) is a lithium-ion electrical storage system. Modular cabins, fixed or mobile, can be combined “like LEGO blocks,” said Miro Yaghi, president of Termaco. “The units can be connected to the Hydro-Quebec grid, or to a solar power unit, which we also designed,” he says. The 550 kWh unit purchased by Tennis Canada will be used as a backup system in the event of a power outage during major summer events at the IGA stadium and will help cushion peak winter demand during extreme cold.

A new platform to buy and sell franchises

A new platform where the promoter has no shortage of appetite… At its launch,, a new secure platform connecting sellers and buyers of businesses, franchises and commercial buildings in Canada, announces its partnership with the MTY Food Group. The web and mobile platform publishes sellers’ ads and provides buyers with various tools such as a search engine, privacy management, intelligent classification, and automated notifications. It also provides merchants with a support service. According to its founder, David Banford, the Quebec company took three years of research and development to set it up. It is the only 100% Canadian and bilingual platform, he says. Through its partnership with MTY Group, expects to grow its membership exponentially, including outside of Canada. MTY Food Group is one of the largest restaurant franchises in North America, with brands such as Thai Express, Sushi Shop and Bâton Rouge.

The number


This is, down to the dollar, the government support given to Cyberkar, a company specializing in the integration of technological systems in emergency vehicles, to transform the Ford Mustang Mach-E into an electric patrol for the Repentigny Police Department. . The $699,986 project is 50% supported by the innovation program managed by Investissement Québec.

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