Leading Edge Designs (1984) Inc.
Leading Edge designs and manufactures Littledeer culinary accessories (Littledeer Mapleware®) and other items for the home. It supplies Williams-Sonoma stores in the USA, the Manufactum catalogue in Europe, and independent cooking boutiques, galleries and natural food stores in Canada. The family-owned company promotes the use of sustainable production and equitable business practices under its slogan “tread tenderly.”
An inventor and designer, Tom learned shopcraft and building by apprenticing to his father, a millwright and blacksmith. Growing up in a farming family, he grew vegetables, planted trees, fished, made wine, and prepared food creatively from a young age. He discovered his passion for fluid dynamics while simultaneously studying Pure and Applied Science and taking flying lessons. Pulling these skills and interests together, in 1991 he invented the Pot Scoop, the first fluid dynamic cooking utensil.
A photographer and graphic designer from childhood, Sharron’s first career as a manager in theatre and film became the training ground for running Leading Edge Designs. Whether co-designing Littledeer kitchen tools, teaching communications courses at McGill University or communicating with clients and media, the theme of sustainability (doing plenty with little) runs parallel through her business and teaching. An advocate of fresh ingredients, she gardens, gathers, preserves and bakes for pleasure.
Sharron and Tom share their love of canoeing and wild gathering, permaculture, ecology, and exploring culinary cultures.
In 1984, Tom Littledeer hypothesized that a non-flat, scoop-shaped paddle would make canoeing easier. He designed and tested a variety of different models with canoeists and at the National Research Council. When The Stowe Canoe Company in Vermont decided to produce his original paddle, Tom made a series of miniature promotional paddles for the launch. Some of these found their way into the kitchen, where his mother and wife agreed they were “naj bolje za kuhati” — “great for cooking”. These first scooped paddles evolved into the Pot Scoop…the first wooden spoon deliberately designed not to crack.
In 1992, Tom gave left-handed pot scoops as Christmas presents to friends who found his asymmetrically right-handed cooking tools “backward.” Orders from left-handers came in thanks to word of mouth. Right-handed orders followed. In Spring 1995, the Pot Scoop, and four other Mapleware® cooking paddles, handmade by Tom Littledeer, were introduced at the One Of A Kind Show in Toronto. Sales to gourmet stores and kitchen boutiques began the following year.
The Mapleware line has since expanded to include an extensive selection of comfortable, multi-purpose cooking, serving, and eating utensils, all made of heat-enduring, beautiful, hard maple. Littledeer has also created Slat Bags, household cleaning tools, sporting equipment, greenhouses, furniture, and industrial shelters. Mapleware® remains his best-known product.