BONDING OVER BEAUTY WITH SMASH + TESS

Your vibe attracts your tribe. It’s a cliche term we’ve (over)heard a thousand times, yet the message and the fundamental importance of the words ring more true now than ever before. As we see the shift towards female empowerment translating to female camaraderie - women looking for collaboration not competition - we find ourselves surrounded by the strength and compassionate female energy we were designed to encompass. 

I feel so fortunate to be a part of an incredible creative community, one that is comprised mainly of entrepreneurial, focused and passionate women. Within this circle, there are many wildly talented minds foraging their paths forward in different industries, yet side-by-side, hand-in-hand with each other… by opening ourselves to the natural bond of sisterhood (so to speak), we have innately come to understand that the sum of our collective awesomeness is far greater than the singular abilities of any of us individually. While we each pursue our own passions and praise the personal achievements of one another, there is an underlying knowingness that should any one of us stumble, the “tribe” would be there to catch her. As modern women, having the unwavering belief in and unabashed endorsement of one another creates an overall support network that would I’m sure shock the hell out of female generations of the past who were not afforded our intellectual and social freedoms. 

What I find intriguing (and amazing!) about the metamorphosis of modern ‘feminism’ and our divine tribes, is the ways in which we connect with one another. In previous times we as working women followed the steps of our male counterparts and hosted business interactions with the perceived formality that we thought we needed to in order to be seen as equals, or ‘serious’. Business meetings were held in boardrooms or other such spaces that didn’t naturally allow the beauty of the feminine brilliance to flourish. I love that we have moved past this. We have said ‘f**k it’ to the formalities and structures that stifled our femininity and have created the new ‘boardroom’ in spaces that celebrate our womanhood along with our fierce minds. 

Last week I was included in an evening that completely embodied this new perspective on the female workspace. Not females IN the workspace, but rather the spaces we create that WORK FOR US as entrepreneurial females. Smash + Tess, an incredible loungewear line created by local babes Ashley Freeborn, Mercedes LaPorte and Teresa Freeborn - alongside Erin Sousa of Sparkle Media - hosted a group of girls from their tribes to partake in the celebration of the brand’s first anniversary. In true female form, the event was hosted at Pure Nail Bar and guests were treated to manis, pedis, a guilt-free popcorn bar, pizza and (of course) various wines from Church & State Vineyard. While the evening was obviously designed to be a blast - and it was, the group of women coming together in support of Smash + Tess were also able to talk shop, catch up and network with one another. There was just as much chatter about the goings on of each others creative endeavours and possible future collaborations as there was about what nail polish to choose and which wine label was more hilarious (seriously, the C&S Lost Inhibitions labels are beyond hysterical… I may have been known to pull every bottle off the shelf to choose the one that best suits my mood!). My biggest takeaway from the evening - besides my perfectly polished toes and a few new favourites on my shopping list from Smash + Tess - was that the modern boardroom is really wherever we as women can interact and bond in ways that are natural to our gender. Some days it might actually be the office; but I love that some days the best meetings are held over wine, pizza and pedicures. And that it’s totally, perfectly the new professional.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOME IS WHERE THE ART IS: G CERAMIC & CO.

The trifecta of form & function, design & aesthetics and human interaction creates a beautiful- yet often unknowing - relationship that each of us engage in every day. The objects that appeal to us and are invited to serve their purpose in our homes become the pillars of our daily experiences; the furnishings, art, and accessories we choose shape not only the visual elements of everyday life, but the functional way we live as well. 

It is this relationship that inspired ceramicist and Emily Carr graduate, Gabrielle Burke, to pursue her passion and create G Ceramic & Co. , a collection of artisan tableware and accessories handmade in the heart of Vancouver. “I love that people have an intimate relationship with the objects. They pick them up and fondle them. They allow that mug to touch their lips as they sip on their morning coffee//tea everyday. The objects are thoughtful, they have meaning.”

Burke has been invited to participate in this year’s ADDRESS, an annual, curated platform to showcase art and design from over 30 of the Pacific Northwest’s most elite designer/makers hosted by Kate Duncan; the four day limited engagement is taking place from Thursday, May 25th through Sunday, May 28. Tickets can be purchased online HERE.

Gabrielle is also welcoming Vancouver’s creative community and public to the G Ceramic & Co. Open House and Studio Launch Thursday May 18 from 7-10pm at her new digs in The Beaumont Studios at 316 & 326 West 5th Ave.

Tell us a little about yourself. 
I'm a hopeless romantic. I love the idea of designing our lives. Exploring howwe curate a life of beautiful people, things and experiences that create our perception of the world around us.

How did you get started in your craft and what led you to where you are now? I had drawn and painted for years but always felt something was missing. I never felt fully satisfied. I was also wanting to go to Art School- so I thought I'd take a ceramics class to flesh or my portfolio. I was the worst in my class. Everything I made blew up, cracked or simply didn't work. I ended up taking the course again the next term as I needed another elective, and one day I sat down at the wheel and everything clicked. I learned how to touch and understand in a different way. I've never questioned it since. 

Some people collect old cameras & typewriters. Do you collect anything?
I collect mugs. I rarely drink out of one of my own mugs. I feel like using a handmade item is almost like having a conversation with the person who made it. Who wants to talk to yourself all the time? I love supporting other artists (I was a board member of the BC Potter's Guild for 5 years.) The sad thing is I keep breaking them (handwash and dry only!) which is bittersweet as I then get to buy new ones! 

Artistically, what is your favourite part of the city?
All of it. I notice the little things. The old bricks coming through the pavement on Victoria Drive and Powell St. The texture of the shingles on old kitsilano houses. The intricate designs on the bay Center and the Fairmont. I want to do a line of cast work that uses textures from different neighbourhoods- if there are some really amazing ones anywhere in the city I'd love to know! 

LOCAL LOVE FOR MOM: THE BEST OF SHOPPING LOCAL FOR MOTHER'S DAY

With Mother’s Day just a few days away, most of us are in the thick of the scramble to find that perfect gift to let Mom know how special she is. This year rather than opting for the generic, we’ve rounded up five stellar locally-sourced gifts that are as unique as your mom; from functional ceramics to decor and greenery to the ultimate in beautiful relaxation, here are your best bets for an A+ offering for Mother’s Day.

1. GHOST MOUNTAIN CO CERAMICS. Available at http://www.ghostmountain.co; pricing varies.

Flashback to when you were a kid and handmade your mom’s most treasured Mother’s Day gifts, Ghost Mountain Co. offers the grown-up version with a small line of handmade ceramics that Mom is sure to love. With various collections of functional pieces like mugs, serving ware and vases, local artist Simone Littledale brings her love for nature to each piece, drawing inspiration from witchcraft, wilderness, heritage, and mysticism.

2. PIPE DREAM CREATIVE HIMMELIS. Available at www.pipedreamcreative.ca; $32 - $66.

Pipe Dream Creative brings the Swedish art of geometric mobiles to modern decor; originally used as charms for good luck on Swedish farms, the brass creations are the perfect gift of well wishes for mom with a handcrafted appeal. The Himmelis offer a beautiful addition to any space, whether used on their own as decor or as a creative vessel for air plants.

3. BARE SKIN BAR BATH BARS. Available at Walrus Home, Neighbourhood Quality Goods and a pop up from May 13 - 22 at Little Mountain Space ; $24 per box of 4.

A local alternative to the ‘bath bomb craze’, Bare Skin bath bars offer Mom the ultimate in luxurious relaxation while amping up her powder room style. Using simple, natural, effective ingredients and essential oils, the bars give an effervescent bath experience, neatly packaged into stellar looking ‘bars’ that look just as awesome before use as they do while creating the ultimate bath water.  Local artisan Cynthia Cyr created four different ‘bar experiences’: Calming Bars (featuring rose clay, cocoa butter, himalayan sea salt, lavender essential oil), Detoxification Bars (featuring kaolin clay, coconut oil, sea salt, lemon essential oil), Restoring Bars (featuring fuller's earth clay, hempseed oil, epsom salt, and eucalyptus essential oil), and Softening Bars (featuring kaolin clay, colloidal oatmeal, coconut milk, shea butter, and lavender essential oil).

4. WOODLOT ‘’AMOUR’ SOAP, CANDLES, ROSE & PAOLO SANTO SPRAY. Available at www.shopwoodlot.com; pricing varies.

If you’re looking to truly pamper Mom for Mother’s Day, don’t forget about ambiance. Designed with a simplistically chic aesthetic that brings a beautiful feel to any room, Woodlot offers candles, room and body sprays and soaps to delight Mom’s senses; the brand has created a variety of scents within their candles and soaps designed for whatever your mom is into, from florals to woodsy to uplifting. 

5. SIMPLY NEGLECTABLE HANGING SUCCULENTS. Available at The Eastside Flea,  1024 Main Street; $15 - $25.

While the automatic go-to gift for Mother’s Day is the standard bouquet of flowers, this year show Mom a little creativity with a stylish alternative. Simply Neglectalbe, is a local company that offers a variety of succulents and unique green groupings. The brand recently launched their line of hanging gardens, knows as Kokedama (Japanese for moss string ball), which make adorably unexpected gifts; The hanging balls are wrapped in rope fornatural appeal, and offer a number of different succulents or cacti to suit Mom’s taste. The best part? These little gems are beyond easy to care for - when they feel light, it’s time to soak them. This gift truly is ‘simply neglectable’. 

HOME IS WHERE THE ART IS: URBANWALLS

My favourite aspect of modern decor is the appreciation for individuality and personality within design. Long gone are the days when everyone coveted the same style and strived to achieve a cookie-cutter aesthetic; now, we seek to share a little of ourselves within the designs we choose and source out brands and decor finds that grant us that freedom. 

Established in 2007 by Danielle Hardy (a local graphic designer turned stay at home mom turned creative entrepreneur), Urbanwalls has become an artistic outlet for people looking to explore unique decor within their spaces. The company designs easy to use, peel and stickwall decals as an ideal (and totally move-and-remove-able) alternative to traditional wallpaper. Not only offering a huge library of their own designs, custom options are also available for the more adventurous client. 

The brand has partnered with a handful of local creative influencers like Leah Alexandra, Erin Sousa and Monika Hibbs to create collaboration collections that are also for sale. My favourite endeavour that Urbanwalls has embarked on is The Creative Collection, through which the brand is partnering with different local artists to create their own collections- one of my favourite artists, Dana Mooney, will be kicking off The Creative Collection, which is set to launch in the next few months. 

How did you get started in your decal design business and what led you to where you are now? 

In 2009, after the birth of my second son, I was searching for a creative outlet where I could put 10 years of graphic design and print experience to work. As a stay-at-home mom with a husband who often traveled, I didn’t have a ton of spare time… but I did have nights and a rather large cutter taking up space in the garage. On a whim, I decided to design a few wall decals―decals that I would actually want to hang in my own home, nothing tacky or dated. After experimenting with the cutter to create my own designs, I listed a few on Etsy. Maybe others were searching for a way to make their homes a little brighter, their spaces more individualized? I woke up the next morning with my first sale and I thought, “Well… I guess it’s time to invest in some vinyl.”

If you could describe your artistic style in one word, what would it be?

Freeform - this is the complete foundation of Urbanwalls. there are no rules. With each install we create for content, or a customer creates in their own space, the finished product ALWAYS looks unique and different. It’s what we pride our business on: being your own designer!

Do you have any predictions for the future of your industry? 

I want our business to be a source of inspiration and practical help. So many people that follow along say "I could never do that" or "I'm not creative enough" and I think that our decals can be something that brings out the creativity of DIY’ing your perfect space. Thanks to the online world (hello, Instagram) inspiration is always around the corner, and more people will be looking for DIY décor solutions, which our decals fit perfectly into.

How would you describe Vancouver’s artistic/creative community?

I love Vancouver because it’s filled with amazing people that love to collaborate and see the value of working together to make a project amazing. When everybody comes together and brings their gifts and talents to the table, magic happens and everybody walks away a winner. Vancouver is filled with people that value collaboration over competition.

 

 

C'MON BABY LIGHT MY FIRE

When you’re setting the stage for the ultimate soiree, the details you choose as a host will set the tone for the event. With last week’s Designer Files, we chatted about the importance ofa stellar tabletop for fresh entertaining. Equally as important in creating the ambiance of your event is lighting. While I love discussing traditional interior light sources (admittedly, I’m a total sucker for a statement lamp), one of the hottest ways to introduce light to your night this year is the fireplace.

Last week design superstar Amanda Forrest hit Vancouver to host an event in collaboration with Dimplex to showcase some of the freshest designs the line has to offer. Held at local go-to for fireplaces, Fireplaces Unlimited (1991 Main Street), Amanda unveiled this year’s most innovative designs and how she loves to work them into any space. While fireplaces may seem out-of-bounds for those of us in condos or rentals, the event shed light on a number of options that are easy to install and electric (read: permit/ strata/ landlord approval free). For this week’s Five Finds, I’m sharing my top five standouts from the event, both for indoor and outdoor entertaining. 

1. The Dimplex Opti-Myst:

One of the big showstoppers from the preview event was the Opti-Myst. From first glance it appears to look like a natural smouldering flame, this electric piece surprises as it is actually a water based flame. The unit uses water to illuminate, and as the mist rises through the bed, light reflects against the water molecules to give the illusion of fire and smoke. A few drops of essential oils into the refillable water basin, and you’ve got yourself the chicest diffuser on the market!

2. The Dekko Fire Bowl:

When it comes to outdoor entertaining, fire bowls are the ultimate essential. Available in a variety of sizes, concrete finishes and palettes, these lightweight, portable pieces create both ambiance and warmth. Whether for a patio party or backyard bash, the fire bowl is the spot where friends love to gather. 

3. The Dimplex Charlotte Media Console:

As a designer, I have to admit this one was my fave. The Charlotte offers everything I love in a furnishing piece: portability, flexibility and storage all wrapped up in a chic high gloss white design. Another electric option from Dimplex, the Charlotte console comes fully assembled, and not only offers the beauty of the fireplace (which can heat up to 1000 sq ft with the Multi-fire XD flame) but also open storage to display your decor vignettes. It couldn’t be simpler to make a statement with the Charlotte - its as easy as unbox, set in place and plug in.

4. The Montigo PL42 One:

New to the market, this built-in outdoor fireplace is unique as it doesn’t require venting, giving it a much more streamlined presence. The design also allows non-combustable materials to be built right to the fireplace front, rather than some traditional pieces that must have a larger metal trim for fire safety; even wood panelling can be used as the finishing surround, which has been a major design trend for fireplaces this year. 

5. The Dimplex IgniteXL:

The IgniteXL is the premium piece from the electric collection, boasting the greatest flexibility in its design. Available in a variety of lengths up to 100 inches, this sleek linear fireplace is an easy alternative to the built-in gas fireplaces yet offers the same wow-factor appeal. This piece boasts panoramic fire that can be adjusted for less flame or more flame, has multiple stone or driftwood styling options and offers LED lighting with multiple colours giving you complete control of the ambiance it sets.

PRESIDENT'S CHOICE NAILS SUPER STYLE FOR SPRING

When I’m on the hunt for fun new finds to create a seasonal decor refresh, I have my roster of favourite shops to hit up for inspiration and it’s not often that I’m surprised by a new retailer for great scores at a reasonable price. However, I recently attended the ‘Spring into Summer’ event with The Real Canadian Superstore where the brand previewed their fresh new Spring/ Summer home collection. Prior to the event, the store hadn’t been on my radar as a go-to for stellar home decor finds - to be honest, I hadn’t realized that the brand even carried such an extensive collection of pieces for decor and everyday entertaining. 

I was pleasantly surprised to see a large number of on-trend pieces for all areas of the home, and I was even more impressed to discover the ultra approachable price points the products are being offered at (ie: a gold rimmed rocks glass with playful motifs runs at $4!). I definitely fell for a few of the pieces that my guests can expect to see the next time they join me for dinner or patio soiree, and I love that it won’t break the bank to get a stellar setup for indoor/ outdoor tabletop styling.

The most notable details about the collection are bright colours and bold patterns - two things that always make any space instantly feel like Spring. There are a few design capsules within the collection, but I personally think the strongest element is the tropical vibe; while palm trees, pineapples and flamingos ruled high end design last year, this Spring the motifs have found their place with mainstream consumers. 

The tropical palette offers a variety of greens to bring to the table, which lends itself to both softer Spring greens as well as this years hottest colour, emerald green, that we have seen take over Pinterest feeds for everything from wallpaper to sofas for 2017. The greens pop against the other brights, which include a hot pink and bright yellow, and the complimentary colourways mean that all the pieces can easily be mixed and matched together for an easy and playful appeal.

Overall, I was most impressed with the attention the brand has put forward to creating continuity within their product lineup for a cohesive design no matter which pieces you choose. Right down to the food you put on the tropical dishes, the colours and overall feel of every new product for the season jive together; at the event, there was a PC Coconut Matcha Green Tea cheesecake served upon the palms platter that showcased the same greens and a PC Golden Beet Slaw that colour coordinated perfectly with the flamingo and pineapple patterns; as a designer, I loved that having food to colour match the servingware created a super chic yet totally easy “finished” look to the table. Martha Stewart, eat your heart out, I just discovered how to look like the hostess with the mostess on a budget!

HOME IS WHERE THE ART IS: SPADE & POINTER

When you mix a creative eye with a green thumb, the beauty of nature is brought to life. Joy Leimanis, Founder and Designer at Spade & Pointer, has channeled her passion for plants into creating a collection of succulents and planters to bring life into home decor. Aptly named after her two loves - her gardening tools and her dogs (Pointers, of course) - Joy has created a business in Spade & Pointer where she can share the art of greenery with her fellow urbanites. 

1. Tell us a little about yourself. 

My name is Joy Leimanis and I'm a Vancouver local with a passion for entertaining and beautiful things.  I work as a project manager by day, greenery designer by night; I create potted succulent art to fulfill my need to be in touch with nature, and bring an approachable element of that to our urban lives. When I'm not at work I'm either in the garden, out exploring the city or hiking on one of local mountains.

2. How did you get started and what led you to where you are now? 

Greenery has always been my passion. Throughout high school and university I worked in garden centres and learned a lot from my time there.  It also helps that my husband works in the landscape industry, so having a home filled with plants is normal for us.  I've always loved creating beautiful planters and just recently, with encouragement from friends and family, I turned this passion into something more.

3. Do you have any predictions for the future of your industry?  

I think that succulents are going to continue to be huge inhome decor because they are such an easy-to-care-for plant and they fit in well with the modern aesthetic.  All you really need to keep them alive is a bright south facing window and a bit of water every few weeks. I also see people continuing to seek out handmade groupings that have been designed to work together - visually, they are an artistic addition to a space, but also adds a local, personalized element rather than just something picked up at the nursery.

4. What is your favourite creative website? 

Succulents seem to still be on trend for weddings and, strangely enough, because of that fact I find a lot of inspiration from wedding websites like Green Wedding Shoes and Style Me Pretty.  They are a great resource for plant colour combinations and inspiration for incorporating other materials like driftwood and precious stones.

5. Artistically, what is your favourite part of the city? 

I've always felt inspired after a trip to Granville Island.  The bustle of the market, the colours and smells inspire me to create. I think it's seeing all the raw ingredients just waiting to be combined to become something more. 

TAKE A (CHIC) SEAT

With the fresh vibes of Spring settling in, we are rejuvenated from Winter hibernation and are ready to get back into full swing entertaining. The new season brings with it the urge to refresh our spaces, and the entertaining decor is no exception. Swapping out your seating is one of the easiest - and often cost effective - ways to add an instant update to the room, whether you go for a matching set of seats or opt for a mismatched selection. In this week’s Five Finds we have sourced our top choices for chic seats in the city.

1. MID CENTURY UPHOLSTERED CHAIR IN VELVET; AVAILABLE AT WEST ELM, 2947 GRANVILLE ST. $249

Modern dining meets old world glamour with the Velvet option of the classic Mid Century chair from West Elm. The luxe fabric pairs perfectly with the sleek silhouette, and is available in a variety of colours, from the elegantly subdued Dove to bolder brights like Wasabi, Berry and Lagoon.

2. LUCY CHAIR BY BEND IN COPPER; AVAILABLE AT PROVIDE HOME, 1805 FIR ST. $875

Minimalist design gets a twist of pretty with the Lucy copper chair. The LA-based brand, Bend, is known for creating furnishings, lighting and home accents that are both functional and playful. Case in point, the Lucy chair uses abstract lines and a powder-coated copper finish to evoke the fresh feel, while the streamlined overall shape speaks to high end simplicity. 

3. THE BAKER CHAIR; AVAILABLE AT THE CROSS DECOR & DESIGN, 1198 HOMER ST. $975

The refreshing neutral palette and curved lines of the Baker chair conjure imagery of a stunning Scandinavian dining space. Furthering the vision, the Baker is constructed of a beautifully pale solid oak frame, with an inviting white goat skin seat. The silhouette of the Baker lends itself to long dinner parties, offering a rounded back and sleek armrests for hours of dinner conversations that linger long into the night.

4. TATAMI CHAIR; AVAILABLE AT BLOOM FURNITURE STUDIO, 495 RAILWAY ST. INQUIRE IN-STORE FOR PRICING.

High style becomes the ultimate in functionalty with the Tatami chair. The artistic shape and design-forward details of the chair are met by the polypropylene constructions, which affords the Tatami to be lightweight, durable and eco-friendly. The material also allows this piece to be multi-functional and used for both indoor and outdoor entertaining; it is resistant to UV beams and rainwater, and is stackable for easy tucking-away when not in use. Available in six colours.

5. ATOMIC SWIVEL MID CENTURY BARSTOOLS; AVAILABLE AT REFIND HOME FURNISHINGS, 4609 MAIN ST. $229ea

In small space living, the features of our homes are often required to be double duty. If you don’t have a traditional dining table and create your entertaining scene around the island, there are still some fabulous ways to amp up the style through seating. These vintage beauties from the city’s top go-to for all things MCM add instant impact via the playful colourway and iconic design. The generous shape allows for comfortable lounging even at the bar.

DESIGN DARLING TIFFANY PRATT COLOURS VANCOUVER HAPPY

It’s always an exciting time for designers when the celebrities of our industry come to townto chat about the ins and outs of what we do; often we are looked to as the experts with all the style know-how, so it becomes a serious treat to have the opportunity to be inspired by our peers that we don’t often get to see. I love when the strongest design personalities hit Vancouver and bring a striking perspective to the relatively safe aesthetic Vancouver traditionally embraces. 

A true ‘Jane of all trades’ with all things style, Tiffany Pratt will be taking on our city’s muted design palette and making her premier appearance at the BC Home and Garden Show on February 25th and 26th; she will be hitting the show’s Main Stage to share her connection to rainbows and how it influences her renowned designs. Famous for her fearless approach to colour, Tiffany personifies the energy of bringing colour into your life through design.

As a colour-minimalist designer, I’m always intrigued by fellow creatives who embrace the full palette spectrum and make even the boldest colour pairings seem like the obvious choice. Tiffany’s inspiring use of brights and patterns have not only influenced designers like myself, but many decor-enthusiasts as well; Pratt has hosted numerous shows on HGTV and is a regular style expert on CityLine, through which avenues she encourages people to follow their imaginations to create spaces that are truly free from traditional design boundaries and speak to their personalities.

Guided by her connections to colour, Tiffany recently launched her first book entitled after her personal design mantra, “This Can Be Beautiful”. The vibrant pages take readers on a personal style journey via 45 beautifully photographed projects, ranging from home decor to DIY to styling a party. While I have an admitted weakness for design books, I particularly appreciate this publication because it shows readers how to use what we already have to create beautiful end-result items for the home; from refreshing your old sheets to giving new life to old wallpaper, Tiffany shows us how we can give our spaces a facelift without breaking the bank on design.

With a saturated creative expertise, Tiffany not only reigns in the interior design arena, but also has numerous product collaborations including stunning stationary and jewellery, as well as her own clothing line. From her interiors to her book to her various product lines, Pratt will be bringing elements of her multi-faceted style to our city for the upcoming BC Home and Garden Show, sharing themagic of rainbow palettes in all aspects of her designs in a must-see presentation.

FIVE FINDS FOR YOUR VALENTINE

With the year’s most romantic day just around the corner, love is in the air and retailers are in full swing with the best swag for your sweetie. If you’re looking to get a little something for the decor-lover in your life, we’ve sourced our top five picks for setting the romantic vibe at home.

1. Follow Your Heart pillow; available at The Cross Decor & Design, 1198 Homer St. $75.

Any designer can attest that there’s no such thing as too many throw pillows, and what better way to snuggle up with a message of love than with this awesome linen toss cushion. Subtle in both size and messaging, the 100% linen pillow has a simple stitched message of “Follow Your Heart”. Sweet and to the point is where it’s at with this lovely little piece, which lends itself as a great gift for anyone on your Valentines Day list. 

2. Heart Mylar; available from Zoe Pawlak, $600.

Whether for a gift, for a client or for myself, artwork is my favourite part of decor. Specifically, local art - I love the beauty in supporting and growing the incredible art scene in Vancouver. One of the most sought after local fine artists in recent years, Zoe Pawlak has transitioned to Montreal and opened her new studio to offer her collections to the East side of the country. With an ever-growing following, Zoe’s pieces remain in constant demand here at home, and everyone (including design darling Jillian Harris, who’s home is shown here) seems to swoon for the Heart Mylar. A literal representation of the heart, the mixed media pieces offer Zoe’s signature softness with an edge of metallic detailing. Custom orders available.

3. Hay Colour Vases; available at Vancouver Special, 3612 Main St. $124 - $260.

If you opt to give the quintessential Valentines gift every girl loves to receive - beautiful fresh flowers - you can score a few extra brownie points by opting to include a stunning vase to deliver them in. Hay offers a family of coloured vases, in a number of shapes and sizes to suit whatever your bouquet needs, that bring a modern twist to the traditional glass vessel. The subtle surface detail lines add that extra little wow factor without overwhelming the main event.

4. Mini Hearts Tea Towels; available at Nineteen Ten Home, 4366 Main St. $22.

For a super functional gift that still says “I Love You”, my current fave is this sweet little heart patterned tea towel. Made from 100% cotton,  this one is easy to wash and wears beautifully; the best part is that your message of love is refreshed every time your sweetheart gets down to work in the kitchen. Definitely a gift that keeps on giving!

5. Hawkins NY Louise Brass Bowls; available at Provide Home, 1805 Fir St. $100 - $190.

 They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach… well, if you’re braving putting on a romantic meal at home this Valentine’s Day, you should also consider the importance of presentation. If your current serving-ware is anything like mine and telling the tales of hand-me-downs, the Hawkins NY Louise collection has got you covered. Super simple yet ultra chic, the brass plated exteriors offer a high glam romance vibe, perfectly downplayed by the white enamel interior. Ranging from small side bowls to large serving bowls, you can choose to have the whole table or just the statement pieces giving the perfect backdrop to your culinary efforts.

HOME IS WHERE THE ART IS: HANDSOME MOUNTAIN

When designing the perfect space, it’s essential to remember the practical role of décor: who will be using the room, and how. Some of the most overlooked details are the needs of our four-legged family members. Even the most perfectly styled room can be easily disrupted by a typical bed for Fido.

Jesse Nightingale, founder of local brand Handsome Mountain Pet Supplies, has created a line of pet beds and accessories that’s so chic, you may want to bring some of her wares into your home whether you have a fur-baby or not. For instance, one of her beautiful beds can double as a super-stylish floor pillow.

Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Jesse Nightingale and I’m the founder of Handsome Mountain Pet Supplies. The company was created shortly after I adopted by beloved dog, Beaumont, from the SPCA in Kelowna. It was on the drive back home that I named him and, ultimately, my brand, Beaumont. Quick translation: Beau = Handsome + mont = Mountain. Et voilà!

Weaving my design skills from being a fashion designer and a textile-arts graduate together with my love for animals, I starting dreaming up [Beaumont’s] perfect pet bed. I decided to develop the brand to share with others what I felt was missing in the pet industry: high-quality, well-designed and all-around-fun pet accessories. Looking back, the decision to follow my passion was life-changing. No other words can describe it. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Do you have a Vancouver muse, or a favourite place in or around the city that inspires you? 
Our favourite place is among the trees, and on the mountains for a good outdoor adventure and hike. But we also really love going down to the dog beaches in the summer and catching those sweet sunsets. That’s the beauty of this city: We have it all!

What’s your favourite accessory?
I'd have to say one of my favourite and most practical accessories that I use on the go is the Handsome Mountain P**p Bag Holder. Because Beau and I go everywhere together, I never know when I’m going to need a baggie.

Source: Andrea Fernandez photo

How would you describe Vancouver’s creative community? 
I absolutely love it! There are always things to attend, and people doing amazing things. The more people you get to know, the more you hear about and can discover.

Do you collect anything? 
I’ve actually started collecting small vintage dog figurines, and dog-related décor items that are really original and not cheesy, that keep the studio looking fun by adding these elements of pets all around. 

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?  
Hmm… good question. I’d probably be working on some other kind of creative endeavour, and would love to do something that involves more world travel.

My day is not complete without… 
…a good snuggle with my BeauDog!

Do you have a favourite creative space? 
I work out of my live/work studio and really do love working here. It allows for me to not have to commute to work, and I quite love the big windows and light that I get in there.

If you could speak to a room of youth who were considering a career in the arts, what would your advice be? 
I would definitely ask them if they think they could get up in the mornings and get to work without their alarm or parents having to wake them up. I would obviously highly recommend that they follow their passion in the arts, and to know that it may be a bit of a struggle at first to reach their goals, but to never stop trying and to never stop creating. 

DECOR FINDS FOR STARTING YOUR YEAR OFF IN STYLE

As the holiday décor gets tucked away for another year, we have an opportunity to give an easy refresh to our homes and our selves, to kick off the New Year in style. Not just an aesthetic makeover, this is the time of year to invest in pieces that offer double-duty options for improving the home while boosting personal style. 

This week, I’ve rounded up a selection of a few of my fave décor finds that offer benefits from personal wellness to organization. Whether it’s something to purify your space, add a sense of Zen and energy to the room, or keep your life on track, these are my top picks for the year ahead. 
 

Source: Contributed photo

Dyson Pure Hot + Cool Link ($699, DysonCanada.ca)

One of the essentials for a truly clean home is an air purifier. Dyson’s latest venture into home purification, the Pure Hot + Cool Link, takes the industry to the next level by doubling as a heater during the winter months and a cooling system in warmer months. From a functional standpoint, the device has the ability to remove 99.97 per cent of all allergens and pollutants with its 360-degree HEPA filter, and it also has a layer of active carbon granules to capture odours and VOCs from within the home. From a style perspective, the Pure Link fits into any décor with its sleek silhouette and gloss-white finish, plus a space-saving size that works for even the smallest rooms. 
 

Rothman & Co. ‘Pearl’ sheets (Rothman & Co, 3301 W. Broadway; RothmanAndCo.com

Your Zen vibe should start from the moment you wake up, and fresh sheets from local brand Rothman & Co. have got you covered. Their Pearl collection boasts 500-thread-count, 100-per-cent Egyptian cotton – the highest-quality natural fibres with a sateen finish – and the convenience of machine-washability. Woven in Israel and finished in Canada, this is a local brand that offers improved sleep and super-chic appeal. 
 

Source: Britt Gill photo

Saje Natural Wellness X Dana Mooney aromaArt Ultrasonic Diffuser ($84.95, Saje Natural Wellness, various locations; Saje.com)

When local art meets holistic wellness, the results are stunning. Such is the case with the second collaboration between Vancouver artist Dana Mooney and Saje Natural Wellness: a beautiful selection of essential-oil diffusers. With two design options available in this latest collection, Mooney and Saje offer a generous diffuser size, which means your home will be reaping their benefits for hours. To complement the line, Sage co-founder and CEO, Kate Ross LeBlanc, personally curated the essential-oil blends.
 

STIL Classics Design Love Planner ($65, StilClassics.com)

Likely the most stylish organizational tool your desk or purse will see all year, this planner takes beauty to an ultra-functional level. With two fresh designs, they give professional women in any space something they can be proud to carry around or display at their desk. The minimalist-meets-functional layout is both task- and time-based, which allows you to keep meetings and other to-dos separate and with a minimum of clutter. Furthermore, each month offers budgeting and expense sheets to keep your financials on track. I love the design philosophy behind the brand: STIL promotes a pared-down lifestyle, encouraging women to only own items they truly love.

THE ART OF THE AREA RUG: 2017 STYLE UNDERFOOT

While the cold weather keeps us indoors, there’s no better time to refresh our decor. Cooler temperatures rejuvenate the love for textiles within the home, allowing us to start a new take on the year with the season’s hottest layers for warmth and comfort. This weeks Five Finds has rounded up the best of my most favourite home decor item - the area rug. Neutrals are the perfect palette for floor decor as it allows us to play with pattern and texture while maintaining an overall look that suits almost any space; from flat weaves with a graphic appeal to historically inspired pieces, here are my top five faves.

1. Willenz Area Rug in Stone; available at Vancouver Special, 3612 Main Street. $945 for Medium size, 88.6” x 63”, other sizes available.

The Willenz uses it’s four-tone monochromatic palette and graphic patterns to create a three dimensional effect to the surface. Designer Sylvain Willenz has spent his life between Brussels, the U.S. and the UK to round out his design career, completing his educationat the Royal College of Art in London. Drawing on his global inspiration, the Willenz area rug takes a fresh approach to tradition by eliminating both corners and round edges to create a unique, geometric style all it’s own.

2. Ceres Dove & Angora rug; available at The Cross Decor & Design, 1198 Homer Street. $625 for 5’x8’, other sizes available.

The intentionally distressed elements of the Ceres area rug show respect to it’s Turkish descent;  with a blend of grey-tone geometric symmetry beautifully interrupted by a teal seemingly paint-spattered pattern, the textile creates a modern take on tradition for area rugs. Whether your decor is minimalist modern or formally traditional, the Ceres offers itself as an upscale, globally chic floor covering.

3. Aerial ’48 Rug; available at Burritt Bros Carpet and Floors, #60 - 8385 Fraser St. Prices available upon request.

As one of the stunning introductions to the Burritt Bros new River Design Quarter collection, theAerial ’48 area rug embodies, on a literal level, the impressive landscape of the design house’s new digs in the River District. The abstract imagery within the rug was inspired by a City of Vancouver archival photo depicting the 1948 flood of the Fraser, and is an aerial view of the farmlands and mighty Fraser pre-industrialization. The river itself in the pattern is created by a low-loop Chinese silk, while the surrounding landscape is made up of Himilayan wool; the contrast in materials and pile height offer a subtle yet stunning sense of movement within the rug, reflective of the area it is honouring.

4. Trace Mat by Ferm Living; available at Vancouver Special or via Ferm Living, www.fermliving.com

Monochromatic colour blocking creates the punchy effect of this rug. Playing within the tonal ranges of soft to striking grey, the Trace offers a playfully geometric pop to any room; it’s smaller size of 24”x40” allows the mat to be ultra versatile, suiting nearly any space from the entryway to the kitchen or even a fun bedside rug. The fringed edges soften the overall design and create 

a more relaxed vibe for the piece, while machine washability make the mat a practical addition to the home.

5. Agua Asgar Rug Drizzle; available at The Cross Decor & Design. $475 for 5’x8’.

This rug offers my most favourite effect, tie dye methods in a subtle neutral palette. We have seen beautiful dyeing techniques from around the world take their place in decor this last year, and the Agua Asgar Drizzle pays homage to that in a fresh new muted colourway. This flatweave piece is made in India, and is made of 100% wool, allowing it to be dirt and stain resistant and ultimately easy to care for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOME IS WHERE THE ART IS: PITON POTTERY

With just a few days left until Christmas, the city is, as always, full of people desperately trying to find that oh-so-perfect last-minute gift for a loved one – and I’m among those hustling procrastinators.

This year, however, after being involved with Yellow Pages’ Shop the Neighbourhood initiative, the goal of which is to draw attention to the stellar small businesses in Vancouver, I decided to task my family with purchasing our gifts only from local, independent boutiques. Instead of taking advantage of the ease of online shopping or braving the malls, I hit up many of the amazing artisanal markets open during the past few weeks. I spent afternoons seeking out gifts for those on my “nice” list and, at the same time, getting to know the creative minds that made each of them. Although it required a little more work, I feel rewarded by the choices I made, and I look forward to sharing them – and the stories of where they came from and who made them – with my family come Christmas morning. 

If you still have a few names not yet crossed off on your shopping list, one local brand I suggest you hit up is Piton Pottery. With each piece made by designer Coral Patola, the collection embraces the nostalgia of old-time ceramics with the modern need for functionality and efficiency. From family members to neighbours to party hostesses, Patola has every gift-giving need covered. I spoke to her about how she got started and what keeps her inspired.

Tell our readers a little about yourself.
I’m an artist working with clay, and I was born and raised in Kitsilano, where my studio resides. I’m a recent graduate of Emily Carr University, with a major in illustration. I’ve always been the kind of kid who likes to play in the mud, so it’s no wonder why I was attracted to working with clay.  

How did you get started in pottery and what led you to where you are now?
I originally started working in ceramic sculpture back in high school and dabbled in it up until university, which is when I fully dove into the medium. Ceramics quickly became my whole life. I still create sculptures, but recently I’ve devoted the majority of my time to making utilitarian ceramics and pottery. I believe there’s a beauty in using a handmade object every day.  

What’s your favourite accessory?
For my home, it’s more a piece of hardware: Right now I’m all about the cup hooks. I screw them in on any and every underside of shelving. I live in a tiny apartment which is only a step up from living in my van, so figuring out ways to save on counter and shelf space is essential for me. I hang all my mugs from hooks – this way, I always get to see them, too, instead of hiding them away in a cupboard.

Do you have any predictions for the future of your industry?  
I believe right now we’re in this huge resurgence of handmade goods, where things are made locally, sourced sustainably, and sold in support of our local artists. I think no matter what kind of art you’re producing under this umbrella, it’s always creating more awareness and support for our local arts community. Ceramics and pottery right now seem to be booming, and I’m excited to be part of this industry that’s becoming popularized and appreciated again. It seems like we’re celebrating the reasons why we’re different from mass-produced goods, rather than trying to become more mechanized. I feel like this trend will only continue as more and more people realize the beauty in imperfections and the organic qualities of handmade goods.

Finish this sentence: My day is not complete without…
All-consuming kiln anxiety. This is when you’re firing your kiln and nothing you can do will stop you from worrying about how your works will turn out. Or if the entire kiln is going to explode, with all your hard work being obliterated or melted down to a pool at the bottom.

Is there a song or a musician that inspires you to create?
Black Sabbath. It seems contradictory to the calming, almost meditative action of [working] on the potter’s wheel, but this is the music that really gets me moving in the studio. It’s a common occurrence for me to be head-banging and singing along in my studio while I wedge clay.

Is there one area of your craft you find especially challenging?
I’m clumsy and a bit of a procrastinator, which are [attributes] maybe not ideal for working with clay. I see many of my pieces come to their demise mostly by me dropping them or bumping them off the table. As well, clay is about precision – there are precise times that you need to be doing certain tasks with it, when it’s more wet or when it’s becoming drier. Through this process, you learn to not become too attached to anything until it’s completely finished, I think this is where I benefit from my easygoing personality.

If you could speak to a roomful of people who are considering a career in the arts, what would your advice be? 

Go to university. It sounds like I’m a nagging parent, but there’s something different about artists who go to post-secondary. I know it sounds like a waste of money and time, and I definitely didn’t appreciate it or enjoy it. And I know a BFA sounds worthless and like you won’t get a job afterward, but it not only helps with basic jobs, but going to an arts university really pushes you. It accelerates your technique and ability. You can only go so far on your own, understanding things through your own eyes. Going to an institution forces you to see your own work in ways you’d rather not recognize, but it makes you better. If I hadn’t gone to National Portfolio Day and been offered a spot at Emily Carr, I don’t think I would have gone to university. Anything is worth a shot. 

Artistically, what is your favourite part of the city?
When you’re driving down a hill going north, and you can see the beach, downtown and the North Shore Mountains all at once. It’s breathtaking, and the geography of this city is really awe-inspiring. A lot of the imagery I use on my ceramics is referencing the beaches or the mountains. I’m truly so inspired by the Pacific Northwest.

STYLING THE ULTIMATE HOLIDAY SOIRÉE

To kick off the Holiday season I was asked to participate in The Holiday Home Tour for Hope, an annual charity event and gala hosted by The Nite of Hope that raises funds in support of The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. The three day event invited ticket holders to tour five homes, each styled by a designer in a stunning Holiday setting.

While I love the festive season, my take on traditional Holiday decor is less enthusiastic; especially working within a such a grand space for the Tour, the charm of tinsel and nostalgic green and red ornamentation was lost. I wanted to create a Holiday style for the space that would be reflective of the interior decor we just updated within the home, and follow the vision of a minimalist, masculine elegance. 

Designing this home and styling it for the Holidays left me with a few key tips on approaching Christmas decor, and the essentials for styling the ultimate Holiday soiree. Here’s the Coles notes on nailing that whole Holiday hostess-with-the-mostess thing.

1. Make a grand entrance: whether you've got a massive foyer or a tiny shoe-crammed hallway for an entrance, don’t forget to address the space. It’s the first welcome your guests have into your home, so adding the right art or a few curated decorations will make it feel like part of the party.

2. Pick a palette: while the mishmash mix of decorations from Christmas’ past can be cute, committing to a colourway instantly adds polish to your Holiday decor. Aim for a palette that suits your current style, allowing the space and the Holiday decorations to work together to create the stage for a stellar soiree. 

3. Keep it simple: here’s where that old saying ‘less is more’ becomes inherently important. Be selective in the Holiday decorations you choose - think about how to achieve the biggest impact with the fewestnumber of pieces. Allowing open (undecorated) space offers room for your favourite ornamentation to really shine. Outside of the tree, opt for only one or two Holiday-themed pieces per area to give the essence of Christmas without overwhelming your home. 

4. Detail the setting to the guests: think about the nature of your event and who’s attending when choosing your table setting. For a more formal affair, heavily layer each setting to create high drama. Little details go a long way when styling a table, so adding in personalized touches make your guests feel like super VIP’s. If there are kids coming, set the stage for them to feel included as well: creating a kiddie table that matches the theme and colourway of the rest of the party allows everyone to have fun without compromising the overall decor of the night.

5. Bar, please: hosting a party will have you busy with your guests, so take one thing off your to-do list and create a dedicated bar area where people can fetch their own drinks (rather than you spending the night topping everyone up). Stick to the decor theme when styling the area: choosing a few barware items that match the style and palette of the party is a simple way to make it look ultra chic. 

BC LIVING: 6 BEAUTIFUL WAYS TO STYLE YOUR COFFEE TABLE

It was such a pleasure to be included in this stylish, creative group of women who were asked to share their personal coffee table style; it's always such fun for me to peek into how my peers interpret design in their own spaces! I loved seeing the looks of Monika Hibbs, Alexandra Grant, Erin SousaTessa Garcia, and Tessa Sam.  Many thanks to BC Living and Sparkle Media for inviting my living room into the story.

When I was asked to describe the "look" I lean to for my coffee table, it really got me thinking about my decor as a whole: how do I define my style and how do I then bring that to life in my own house? It's funny how working with my own space is such a different process than with clients - at home, I design  solely off what I feel and love, often forgetting some of the design principles that I use when I'm working. However, the overall vibe is very me, which ultimately is what design is all about. 

 

Jennifer Scott, A Good Chick To Know

"My personal style is very, well, personal. I believe that a space should speak of it's people so my decor is eclectic, comprised of family heirlooms, vintage treasures and other pieces that make me feel something. While I have a heavily layered design, full of personal items I've collected throughout my life and travels, I pull it all together with a muted, neutral palette.I love fresh whites combined with ivories and natural linen tones and a slight lean into feminine nudes and pinks. I love to entertain so that means I have to keep space on my tabletop, but I always have a grouping of pretty things to ground the room; a glass top and open-base coffee table works best for me so that I can layer groupings on my coffee table without the room feeling too heavy or full.

Coffee table: It belonged to my grandmother, who epitomized chic, and I remember as a young girl thinking how glamorous this table was
Trio of crystal candle holders: I received these as a wedding gift from a dear friend
Natural crystals (various stones and quartz): The Crystal Ark (Granville Island) and Amethyst Creations (West 4th Ave)
Moroccan puffs: picked up while I was travelling Morocco!

 

Tessa Sam, Sweet Bake Shop

"I'm always on the go and I really like to come home to a space that feels comfortable. My coffee table is a simple marble-top piece, which I love because I eat on it and it's easy to clean. Fresh flowers and pretty baking books add a little colour, candles scent the room and, of course, there's always something sweet nearby."

Peonies: Flower Factory
Coffee table books: Chapters
Tea cup: Chapters
Plate: Miss Etoile
Candle: Vancouver Candle Co.
Cupcakes: Sweet Bake Shop

Screen Shot 2017-05-14 at 7.31.16 AM.png

 

Tessa Garcia, Cake for Breakfast

"Fresh flowers are a must on my coffee table and I love switching up the type of bloom with each season. I also keep either a candle or some of my favourite scents to quickly fill the room with a sweet aroma—and, of course, a fashion mag for some light reading"

Tray: Gluckstein Home
Scents: Jo Malone Velvet Rose & Oud and Mermaid
Magazine: Vogue
Vase: purchased at an antique market, similar ones available at The Cross

 

 

Alexandra Grant, To Vogue or Bust

"I love striking a balance between feminine and minimalism, so having some element of fresh prettiness (flowers or an exotic tropical leaf) with other natural elements like marble or wood makes me feel right at home."

Marble phone case: Casetify
Candle: Voluspa Blanc de Blancs
Nebulizer: Saje

 

 

Monika Hibbs, Monika Hibbs

"My coffee table is one of my favourite areas in my home to style, but it can be a challenge at times too. I like to keep my accessories balanced with statement books, coasters, a candle and fresh flowers when I can. Creating a coffee table vignette that's both functional and beautiful is the perfect way to create a focal point in your room."

Candle: Diptyque
Vase: Sur la table
Coasters: West Elm
Books: Chloe Attitudes; Allegra Hicks: An Eye for Design; Fashion: 150 Years of Couturiers, Designers, Labels; American Modern

 

 

Erin Sousa, The Sparkle

"My tufted ottoman is the centre of our living space and since it's not a flat surface, I use my acrylic tray to keep all of my items corralled. Fresh blooms, a candle and my fave decor mags are the essentials I always have on hand (with enough room to place wine glasses for evenings at home, of course)."

Tray: West Elm
Pineapple Tumbler: Design Darling
Magazine: Domino
Flowers: Flower Factory
Vase: The Cross Decor & Design
Candle: Diptyque

My Digs: Michael Gibson + Calvyn Cass of Brush Salon

When a couple has built their careers making people look beautiful, it's no surprise that their own private space offers up high style with a refined appeal. Michael Gibson and Calvyn Cass – owners of the sought-after Gastown hair salon, Brush Salon – epitomize bringing work home with them in the best way possible: the fabulous style they grant their clients is carried through to the chic Gastown loft they call home.

Sharing their space with Milton and soon to arrive, Finnigan – their two dogs – Michael and Calvyn have mastered the curated, minimalist yet interesting décor that many of us strive for. Astonishingly over-height ceilings, large-scale windows and all-white walls set the perfect backdrop for their modern aesthetic. With their favourite finds being a grand ornate mirror from The Cross and a vintage taxidermy peacock they scored through a West Van estate, the space exudes polished personality.

What is it?: 

We live in a two bedroom loft with our dog Milton in Gastown.

Occupant: 

We are Calvyn and Michael, husbands of almost two years and partners for just over nine years. We own Brush Salon in Gastown and are very passionate about our work and the team we have built. We feel pretty lucky to have each other to have shared all of our worldly travels, major life events and beautiful memories with.

Major selling feature: 

The major selling feature was the rooftop patio for its endless summer nights and afternoon cocktails in the sun... For the two months summer actually exists! 

First thing I changed: 

Nothing, but I would love to renovate our bathroom and have a waterfall shower a separate bathtub... And a walk-in closet... Boys can dream!

Feature I brag about: 

Again, the rooftop patio. But, we also love the 24-foot ceilings that make the space feel spacious and airy.

That one conversation piece: 

Our gigantic ornate mirror from The Cross as well as our living wall from Heather at Greenstems.

The décor: 

We are both minimalists. We love the feeling of a clean, open space. We are trying to create a masculine feel whilst incorporating beautiful pieces. Challenging, but we are getting there, piece by piece.

The story behind the art/antiques/collectibles: 

Michael finds pieces that inspire him and I usually just give the OK. Most of the pieces come from some sort of life event. Our dog chewed up our last couch so we had to get this one. It took six months but we finally found something he and I liked. The coffee table was handmade. We trekked out to PoCo (another country to us) to consult with the guy and then back again to get it. The peacock (Albert, as we named him) came from and estate sale in West Vancouver. So many stories...

Downsides: 

Gastown is awesome but it's still finding its footing. Homelessness is a huge and ongoing issue in the area and it can be hard to cope with at times.

Neighbourhood haunts: 

Our boutique salon, Brush Salon, which is right around the corner from our home!

Compared to your last place: 

Way bigger. We loved our last home because it was the first property we ever owned. This place is a rental but we love it regardless... Just hard to compare a milestone to an "upgrade" (if we are going to call it that)!

Favourite apartment/house/condo activity: 

Dinner parties/having people over in general... anything involving food and a few alcoholic beverages. You only live once, better to live life having fun.

http://www.westender.com/lifestyles/a-good-chick-to-know/my-digs-michael-gibson-and-calvyn-cass-of-brush-salon-1.2173913#sthash.oND1Tq7v.dpuf

Design goes to the dogs for the Barkitecture

When I was first asked to participate in the Barkitecture feature at this years BC Home + Garden Show, I knew this was an initiative designed after my own heart. Combining two of my personal passions - animal welfare and fabulous decor - Barkitecture is an installation working in collaboration with the BCSPCA. Five of Vancouver's top designers were given a $50 budget and asked to transform a raw wood indoor dog house structure into a design mecca for the pampered pooch. The five completed designs will be on display at the BC Home + Garden Show, running February 17th to 21st at BC Place Stadium, and will be auctioned off to the highest bidders with all proceeds going to the BCSPCA.

My invitation to design one of the houses came while I was on a month-long journey through Morocco, which heavily influenced my inspiration for the project. I knew I wanted to give the raw wood a complete white wash in order to achieve a brightly neutral backdrop for the details; using an all white and mixed-metallic palette, I referenced the ornate textiles, tilework and patterns I discovered in Morocco to complete this globally-chic design. I used mixed glass tiles to create an organic pattern for the face of the house, opted for mirrored tiles to perimeter the side and back portions of the structure, and stencilled a Moroccan tile pattern in sharp gold for the roof. Scrap wood was used to create a plank floor, and a matching wood shelf with Moroccan glass jars was affixed to one side to chicly house all the essentials for the modern dog. Then I moved into dense fringes, sheepskins (faux, of course) and vintage global textiles to create the softer elements. The finishing details came in the form of natural crystals, as I introduced quartz and selenite into the design to bring a beautiful energy, and I created the final ambiance with a strand of battery-operated string lights for the interior. 

I can't wait for the final design to be revealed at the show, and hope to see many funds raised for the animals in need through the auctioning of all five fabulous designs. Head down to BC Place this weekend to check out all of the designer doggy digs in person!

Home Is Where The Art Is: Yared Nigussu

From the first moment you meet Yared Nigussu, you feel the love for what he does; his passion for life and for art is palpable and it becomes the perfect introduction to the emotion you will find within his work.

Yared came to Vancouver to further his career a few years ago by way of France and Ethiopia; he chose the North American urban scene to call his home and inspiration in lieu of the formal traditions of the European art world. He craved the craziness that the underground art scenes of large cities like New York embraced; apparent in the stunning cityscapes he creates, Yared loves the city. He is inspired by the people and strives to give back through his art. Portraiture is also a strong focus for Yared, through which he finds an outlet to express not only beauty, but also social issues like money and immigration.

Always looking forward, Yared’s creative philosophy is about provoking appreciation for the beauty in the little things, and views this to be the only way to positively influence the bigger picture. “You must make space for positivity in order to be able to notice it,” he explains, and shares his day to day personal goals and reflections of, “What did I do beautiful today?”.

Yared is currently preparing for an exhibition this coming May at the Kurbatoff Gallery on South Granville; until then, you can find him in his studio at 2414 Main, or in one of the many inspirational cafés our creative community flocks to.

Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Yared Nigussu and I am a visual artist. I was born and raised in Ethiopia, earning my degree in art education in 2005. Later I received a scholarship to further my art training in France. After moving to Canada, my career became established and I began exhibiting both locally and internationally. I also won the Canadian Art Battle live competition three years running, from 2012 to 2014.

How did you get started in painting and what led you to where you are now?

Art was my one and the only dream since I was little. It came naturally; no one pushed me toward it or brought the idea of art to me, no one took me to the museum. Even when I was a very little I was attracted by the huge public art displays in the city where I grew up. Most of them were communist propaganda kind of paintings; at that time Ethiopia was a communist country and wherever you went you would see the Marxists and Leninist paintings or sculptures in the main squares. That was a huge influence in my artistic choice and, also, the life of an artists always seems charming and mysterious, so that was another reason for me to follow my path. 

Do you have a Vancouver muse? Or a favourite place in or around the city that inspires you?

I am quite new to Vancouver, but in this short time I have met a lot of very interesting people, one of whom being David Suzuki. He is not only a genius but also very kind person. He is my Vancouver muse!

Do you have any predictions for the future of your industry?

I am in a very good path of my career and this journey has brought an unstoppable happiness. I learn every single day from my art and that knowledge brings happiness in my life. So I will keep this journey going for as long as possible. Art is very important to life and I know the future will be really good if I just keep working, inspired by nature, and inspiring others in return.

Who is your idol or mentor?

I have been influenced by many young and contemporary artists. I like the work of Jenny Seville and Amedeo Modigliani.

Finish this sentence: my day is not complete without…

Laughing.

Is there a song or a musician that inspires you to create?

In my studio I like to listen to Tricky, Massive Attack and Thievery Corporation.

Douglas Coupland recently said “a city without strong consistent arts funding is basically a parking lot” when discussing Vancouver’s vast art community. How do you feel about this and how do you think Vancouver compares to other cities in Canada?

I agree with Douglas Coupland. Every city has to give attention for any kind of artistic activities and fund it’s artists to be more creative. Art is hope. Art is the way to show one’s civilization. It shows the collective thinking of the community; artists are the voice and we see the thinking out loud of the city through her art.

Do you have a favourite creative space?

Cafés are my favourite creative spaces. I am not saying the franchised versions, but the small very personalized cafés of the town. There is always some sort of beauty in the café. That’s where ideas are born and I will run to my studio to work.

Artistically, what is your favourite part of the city?

I am fan of Main Street, especially the neighbourhood around Main and 8th where my studio is. Also Granville Island gives me a sense of calm and space to think.

www.westender.com/lifestyles/a-good-chick-to-know/home-is-where-the-art-is-yared-nigussu-1.2169833#sthash.xqDBJ9Sy.dpuf

Five Finds for your Valentine

With February freshly upon us, the inevitable air of panic amongst men has begun to set in. As the shops and media remind us on the daily that the countdown to Valentine’s Day is on, the hopes of romance for women are high and the pressure is on for partners to find the perfect gifts to express their love.

Rather than resorting to the last-minute standards of chocolates and flowers, I’ve rounded up a few picks for gifts that not only will add some serious style to your Valentine’s life, but also keep that reminder of love going year round.

Classic Little Kiss sculpture by Kelly Wearstler

Available at Peridot Decorative Homeware, 1512 West 14th. Inquire in store for pricing. 

Available in classic marble or semi-precious materials like rose quartz, these glamorous little lips are a love note that even the most discerning minimalist will appreciate. Inspired by Wearstler’s love for classical sculpture and figurative work, this piece is sure to add a sense of sultry style and elegance to your Valentine’s decor, whether displayed in the bedroom, the coffee table or even the office.

Heart Mylars by Zoe Pawlak

Available at ZoePawlak.com. Inquire online for pricing. 

Receiving art is always a special occasion, and the collection of heart-shaped Mylars that Pawlak has created are ideal tokens of romance. Simplistic and ultimately chic, these pieces are a perfect blend of femininity and modernity; graceful yet abstract, the hearts send a message of love with the use of palette, finish and silhouette. No words required.

True Grace Moroccan Rose candle

Available at Provide Home, 1805 Fir Street. $55 each.

After a month travelling Morocco, I have become especially keen to the importance of scent to an experience. This Moroccan Rose candle, created with natural wax, evokes memories of lavish teahouses and warm environments with its floral and woody undertones. Offering both ambient light and seductive scents (and a 40-hour burn time), this is the perfect gift to set your romantic scene and light her fire.

Custom terrariums

Available at Mayhew Sherwood Florist, 3691 West Broadway. Inquire in store for pricing.

Let’s skip the expected bouquet of “Valentine’s Special” cut flowers that last only a week (at best) and let’s move toward something that shows a little thought behind the choice. Mayhew Sherwood florist offers a Terrarium Bar in store, allowing you to custom create an air plant terrarium, complete with the vessel, sands and stones, uniquely for your Valentine. Or, if your green thumb is a little lacking, you can also purchase a gift certificate for your beloved to go in and create their own special creation. 

Muse Pitcher by Jonathan Adler

Available at MINT Interiors, Shop.MintInteriors.ca. $139 each.

In classic Jonathan Adler style, this piece incorporates high-gloss glam with quirky elements. Inspired by Adler’s love affair with Dali and Misia, the white porcelain pitcher features raised lips on one side and a moustache on the reverse, offering up a kiss from both genders. Whether you’re serving up a Valentine’s breakfast in bed or looking for a vessel to deliver flowers, this pitcher serves functionality with a smile. 


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