There was no chance Canada Customs was going to let her ship a wood door home. So Marchand spent an extra week in Mongolia, using personal vacation time to journey out onto the steppe with a local guide, staying with families in their gers, playing cards, drinking vodka, and eating more dumplings than she hopes to ever again. She took dozens of photos of the gaps that formed between the doors and the sill plates, the gaps around the edges of the felt tent – all the leaky openings that formed with daily wear and tear that allow the bitterness of winter to finger its way in.
She needed to conceive a way to close the air gap. With the average salary in Mongolia at 966,000 tugruk, roughly $CAD520, it had to be cheap, easy to install, and easy to make.
Marchand had a flash of insight, remembering her five-year-old self visiting her grandmother in Quebec, where the winter temperatures hover around -20°C. She remembered the “snake” that her grandmother would kick along the door jamb, a long fabric tube filled with sand to block the draft.
After she returned to the Arc’teryx North Vancouver design headquarters, Pat Fitzsimmons answered her call for help, injecting something else to the project, something she hadn’t realized she needed: enthusiasm, a voice to counter the one in her head that said this solution is too simple; this problem is too big; this process is too unwieldy; how can you be sure that the Mongolians will accept this; who do you think you are?