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May June 2018


Data vs. Trends (or can it be both?)

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05/062018 Features

39 DATA PLAN Analyzing stats, facts and numerical (as opposed to style) trends is changing interior design. But for the better? By Matthew Hague

47 EYE OF THE BEHOLDER How experiential graphics heighten corporate identity. By Leslie C. Smith


17 CAUGHT OUR EYE 20 SEEN Highlights and insights from IDS in Toronto; Maison & Objet January in Paris; Heimtextil in Frankfurt; and Salone del Mobile in Milan. 35 THE GOODS From ergonomic workstations to intuitive chairs and prefabricated office units, today’s designers bring improved visions to the office floor. 52 SCENE 54 OVER & OUT Looking back as a Canadian design iconic turns 50.

COVER – Scattered throughout the Vancouver office are pieces of Capcom’s intellectual property, such as life-size figurines and hand sketches, which stand out against the space’s minimalist palette. Photo by Ema Peter





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Webster Library Designed by Menkès Shooner Dagenais LeTourneux Architectes, this major expansion and renovation project at Concordia University aims to create a landmark on campus.

Changi Airport Montréal-based Moment Factory was commissioned by Singapore’s Changi Airport Group to create major new experiential media features.

IBI Group Patios Toronto-based, technologydriven design firm IBI Group challenged its employees to redesign their patio spaces.

Light Forest Hair Studio Vancouver-based Arno Matis Architecture (AMA) added a ‘bamboo chandelier’ of polished metal into Yusaf Hair Studio to animate and energize the cubic volume.



May| June 2018 / V55 #3

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Canadian Interiors magazine is published by iQ Business Media Inc. 101 Duncan Mill Road, Suite 302 Toronto ON M3B 1Z3 Telephone 416-441-2085 e-mail: website: Canadian Interiors publishes six issues, plus a source guide, per year. Printed in Canada. The content of this publication is the property of Canadian Interiors and cannot be reproduced without permission from the publisher.

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Invest in Access

As April wraps up, so too does the academic year, and I had the honour of being asked by Humber College’s Bachelor of Interior Design program to speak to fourth year students during their thesis show. Issues of inclusivity were dominant themes in the projects on display by the students, and so naturally the conversation tilted in that direction, with students questioning aloud about how best to accommodate everyone in a space. I was even asked, fairly directly, whether I think universal design is realistic. My answer was equally direct: don’t look for absolute answers, but also don’t be discouraged by the lack of one. Instead, realize that interior design is a business, and like any good business person does, watch how markets change. The Conference Board of Canada, relying heavily on Stats Canada data, put out a new report titled The Business Case to Build Physically Accessible Environments, highlighting that the number of Canadians living with a physical disability that impairs their mobility, vision, or

hearing will rise from 2.9 million to 3.6 million over the next 13 years, nearly double the pace of the population as a whole. Today, one in seven Canadian adults identifies as having some form of disability, and due to our large and aging Baby Boomer population (there are now more Canadians aged 65 and older than 15 and under), that number is expected to increase to one in five within the next 20 years, affecting up to nine million people. Simply put, in the new millennium it’s normal to have some form of disability. And this is what I tried to impress on these students, because as a community of people with disabilities continues to grow and become more active, there is a greater need for the built environment to meet the real needs of the consumer. And the payback is enormous. Real spending by this group will rise from 14 to 21 per cent of the total consumer market, and improvements to workplace access would allow 550,000 Canadians with disabilities to work more, increasing GDP by $16.8 billion by 2030. Brad McCannell, vice president at the Rick Hansen Foundation, put it perfectly. “We need to ask ourselves, if there was $17 billion worth of gold in the ground, would you just leave it there, or would you do everything you could to get access to it and maximize the return on investment?” And that is what I told the Humber students to think of a building as: an investment, specifically, an investment in people. Accessibility is more than just a legal standard or specification. It involves fostering a sense of inclusion so all people, not just those with disabilities, can flourish.

14 Peter Sobchak

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Giants with Dwarf Stephan Hürlemann raided the parts collection of Swiss furniture manufacturer Horgenglarus to create Riesen mit Zwerg (German for “Giants with Dwarf”), seven puppets standing six feet tall and outfitted with articulating limbs that visitors could manipulate using pulleys. Jim Henson would be proud.

Ruy Teixeira

The Diner Architect David Rockwell, Surface magazine and design studio 2x4, backed by a slew of product and material partners, successfully transformed one of the Ventura Centrale vaults into a slick reinterpretation of the American diner. Judging by the crowds, Italians must have a real hankering for greasy burgers and grilled cheese.



caught our eye

Tempietto nel Bosco Palazzo Litta is an offsite locus during Salone, which makes its Great Courtyard one of the most coveted installation locations and a feather in the cap for any designer who can nab it. This year that honour went to London-based studio Asif Khan, whose installation of ochre-tinged wooden columns create a dialogue with the marble ones of the surrounding square.



Ruy Teixeira

Fifth Ring By installing a simple circular LED ring inside the courtyard of Milan’s historic Seminario Arcivescovile (a seminary built in 1564 for St. Carlo Borromeo), MAD Architects created an impressive exercise in contrasting geometry: a circle-in-square reflecting off a pool of water gives visitors a perfect cause to contemplate the greater meaning of things.







is Ca

The 20thanniversary edition of the Interior Design Show celebrated modern Canadian design with style.

By Michael Totzke




What a show! On one side of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, North Building: Canadian by Nature, a lively exhibition showcasing architecture and design from 60-plus emerging and established designers and studios, practising in Canada and abroad; and Maker, highlighting artisanal North American designers who produce their own work in small batches with limited distribution. On the other side: Studio North and Prototype, featuring one-off and custom collections in a gallery-like setting from young Canadian and international designers. In between: a varied selection of flooring, lighting, furniture and more. CANADIAN INTERIORS 5/6 2018




1 Highwire | ANONY A lighting and product design studio in Toronto founded by Christian Lo and David Ryan, ANONY’s Highwire combines up to five individually weighted luminaries hanging from a single “power drop” of taut electrical cables.


2 Iso | Justin Bailey Design Based in Bloomington, Indiana, designer Justin Bailey wowed Prototype aficionados with a coffee table inspired by isometric drawing. Tilted at 15 degrees, Iso is constructed of bent-steel rod and Corian solid-surface tiles that can be repositioned. 3 Boreal Bench | Charuk & Ford Chris Charuk and Simon Ford launched their small-batch furniture company at IDS. Designed and made in their Toronto studio, products include a handsome bench ideal for both entryway and dining settings. It features a solid-wood, pinned mortise-and-tenon frame, steam-bent back and shaped solid-wood seat. 4 Lomhara | Luxi Studioworks Hand-crafted by Halifax-based Alisha

Marie Boyd, Lomhara takes its name from an Irish Gaelic intimate term of endearment. Made of welded steel with powdercoat finish, the airy pendant is available in candy teal, candy red, white, gold, champagne, sleet and translucent smoke. 5 Trip-Mini Pendant | Pelle The Trip-Mini by New York City-based Jean and Oliver Pelle is made of brass or steel plate, and is available in three finishes: rust, steel and satin brass.


6 .001 | .Decimal Run by partners Omar Reul (in Mexico City) and Alejandro Barrero (in Vancouver), .Decimal creates state-of-the-art light fixtures, pairing LED modules with customizable high-grade 3D-printed shades created by tech-savvy designers worldwide. The latest shade is by Eve Balashova, a young Russian-born jeweller based in Scotland.


7 Mila | Matthew McCormick Studio Inspired by his pregnant wife’s tender, cradling pose, Mila features spheres of hand-blown artisan glass nestled within arcs of steel. Finishes include satin copper, satin brass, black oxide, white powdercoat and brushed steel. 8 Polar Table | Hollis + Morris This Toronto-based furniture and lighting maker takes its name from an intersection in Halifax where it began as a series of garage explorations in design. With Polar, warm wood (solid walnut or white oak) pierces through glacial-honed marble.


9 Mile | Lambert & Fils Inspired by the iconic linear-suspension light, Mile is a new collaboration between L&F and Guillaume Sasseville, creative director of Montréal-based SSSVLL. “Two extruded bodies connect in an asymmetrical balancing act giving them the illusion of weightlessness,” says Sasseville. “The invisible counterbalances inside the frame create a tension and makes the fixture seem like it’s levitating.” 10 Koval | Huppé The Québec-based furniture company has teamed up for a second time with Karim Rashid to come up with Koval. The rounded tabletop, in solid white oak, has a central insert of natural stone or lacquered glass. The inset lacquered-steel frame comes in 13 different colours. 11 T110 | Kastella The elegant T110 is the latest addition to the collection of the Montréal -based manufacturer and distributor of premier hardwood furniture. The table is available in solid walnut or white oak, with a matte black or white Fenix top or solid-surface-top option.



12 Layer | This or That Studio Toronto-based Henry Lin is the designer

behind this series of seating, which balances the beauty and strength of solid white oak with the comfort of upholstered seating.


13 Beton Clipse | Ryspot Design The lamp by Ryan Spotowski is made from cast recycled concrete aggregate. The bulb reflects off the concrete, illuminating its texture and imperfections. Rotating the lamp on its side provides an asymmetrical option; it also works well as a bookend. 5/6 2018 CANADIAN INTERIORS




Finding the Fun(ction) An exhibition dedicated to décor, interior design and lifestyle culture and trends, the winter edition of Maison&Objet continues to attract the par excellence of the design world. Compiled by Peter Sobchak 4


1 Geoffrey | Ligne Roset Designed by Brussels-based Alain Gilles, this minimalist mirror/clothes stand is actually quite luxurious, with the black lacquered steel structure challenged by a small brass-coated steel trinket holder. Highly graphic, stable yet light, a perfect fit for Ligne Roset’s aesthetics. 2 Kettal Mesh | Kettal The new collection designed by Patricia Urquiola now includes a daybed and two chaise lounges, in a style reminiscent of building façades that let in light and air while keeping the elements out. It combines natural and industrial materials, hard and soft surfaces, and transparent and opaque volumes to create a family of outdoor furniture based on contrasts. 3 Bump | La Chance This new cabinet and credenza line in galvanized steel and marble by Jan Plechac and Henry Wielgus gets its name from the ‘bump’ or push motion necessary to open the doors. While the structure and interior is made of wood with metal only applied as a décor, the steel is submerged in a bath of protective molten yellow zinc which creates a unique iridescent colour. 4 Fox | Pedrali Designed by Patrick Norguet, Fox is one of Pedrali’s more successful lines of armchairs notable for its clever mix of materials and geometric lines: a thin fibreglass polypropylene shell set in an ash wood profile curved and rounded at the ends. What’s new for 2018 is a version in leather upholstery.



5 Bolge 59 | Salty Design Pretty much every piece of Salty Design’s furniture have something in common: they’re made from real surfboards. Here, a shortened board and refined shape is combined with a Jean Prouvé-inspired base to give the table a modern instead of kitschy look.



Fingers | Seletti If fingers left prints on molten brass, what would the resulting objects look like? The answer is the Fingers collection designed by Marcantonio, which takes its cues from textures left behind by fingerprints and applies it to an away of items such as lamps, cutlery, plates, nutcrackers, candle holders, and a bell, all somehow as elegant as they are anachronistic. 6


7 Speaker | Bunaco Designed by Japanese wunderkind Nendo, thin strips of beech wood are rolled into coil-based shapes that create 8 internal cavities with unique sound absorbing and reflecting qualities, producing a clear and soft tone. Placing the diaphragm in a vertical transparent acrylic cylinder not only improves the quality and spatial distribution of the sound, but also leaves the unfinished edge that is left curling from the bottom on view.


8 Krak | Riluc Without even reading its description you can tell this came from the brain of Karim Rashid. Eye-catching in every respect, the Krak side table is an experiment of steel juxtaposed in a hard, planar, skewed composition, with straight lines providing a surprisingly sturdy base while the three-dimensional facets create movement.


9 A Conversation Piece | Vita Copenhagen Designed by Anders Klem, this is an armchair that encourages relaxation and openness, with organic continuous curving lines and a heart shaped shell made of oiled oak that keeps the grain of the wood visible and highlights the use of natural materials. 10 Empire | Mr. North The Empire collection by Javier Gomez – a Maison & Objet rising talent from 2016 – is a minimally designed fully upholstered sofa and lounger shaped by a bentwood structure, combining comfort and design all into one.





seen 1 Stitch | BN International Simple geometric patterns with a splash of colour, a tactile texture and a mid-century modern feel made the Stitch Collection my stand out wallcovering product at the show. The six unique designs were created in-house and are available in a variety of colours to suit any space.

2 Apart | Jab Anstoetz The Apart and Blizzard shades produce a striking lighting effect due to the almost barcode-like stripe patterns that allow lots of light to enter a room, yet still offering privacy.


3 Domino | Élitis This entirely non-woven wallcovering is a collection of drawings assembled into a pattern of shapes and geometric designs which are then printed into wallpaper, resulting in over 40 unique designs and colours. 4 Vibes | Kobe Fabric Vibes drapes, part of Kobe’s Senses collection, incorporates a decolourizing technique to create a unique two tone fading effect.



Style Aisle Textile Marathon

By Martin Spreer


With seemingly endless aisles of textiles, wall and window coverings, a marathon stamina is required to truly experience all of Heimtextil. While trends like this year’s blue and red predilection come and go, this show is always a formidable force in the textile industry.










1 Ulf Moritz Signature | Marburger Tapetenfabrik Amsterdam-based German designer Ulf Moritz is no stranger to textile and wallpaper design and has again teamed up with Marburg to create the Ulf Moritz Signature wallpaper collection: a luxurious feel fashioned on simple patterns and rich in colour.

Super-talented German textile designer Sabine Röhse offers an eclectic mix of designs featuring abstract graphic forms and digitally created patterns that are simple yet innovative. 5 Clark | Vescom Through its multilayered small horizontal and square design, the Clark is able to create a three dimensional textured wall surface look that is subtle yet eye catching.

2 Kanji | Nobilis Paris Part of the Mosaic collection and available in three colours, Kanji is an embroidered curtain fabric imitating the ornate lines and designs of Japanese calligraphy.

6 East Village Jaune | Texdecor The East Village Jaune drape fabric was designed by Texdecor’s modern Camengo design team. A raised embroidered line incorporating red square patterns on a yellow textile creates intriguing geometrical shapes.

3 Ishi | Saum & Viebahn The Ishi drape fabric, with its intricate stitching and ability to fool the eye to believe it was sewn together from multiple pieces, is visually striking especially in the light grey option, one of five colour choices. 4 Design 219 | Sabine Röhse CANADIAN INTERIORS 5/6 2018


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Vitrail | Magis Inga Sempé was inspired by Venetian mirrors found in antique shops, which were often a central mirror surrounded by other smaller pieces of glass: a simple and attractive way to both frame and reflect. This collection combines clear and contrasting coloured mirrors held together by an injection moulded rubber frame, and come in a variety of formats.

Eddy | Normann Copenhagen This table lamp, designed by Simon Legald, consists of a steel screen plane with integrated LED light source that balances on a lamp base made of hand turned Italian marble.

Gu | MAD Architects for Sawaya & Moroni Drawing reference from skeletal structures (“gu” translates to “bones” in Chinese), the design’s joints create a network of sinuous forms similar to that of connective fibrous tissue. Each surface of the chair fuses into one another, forming seams that mutate from something natural into something more futuristic, making it seem more like a growing organism than a chair.

Mission: Milano!

By Peter Sobchak

Dodging half a million design enthusiasts ain’t easy, but girding my armour and bracing for this combat sport can reveal spoils that are the best in the biz. CANADIAN INTERIORS 5/6 2018


seen Legato | Matter Made Luca Nichetto gets around! His handiwork was visible at booths for Kristalia, Ethimo, Coedition, MDF Italia, and more. This lighting system for Matter Made is anchored on a multi-tiered rigid aluminum structure, with modules that allow for different combinations. The double directionality of the light sources creates a play of reflections and shadows between the modules.

Rilievi | Cedit Designed by Zaven (a.k.a Enrica Cavarzan and Marco Zavagno), this new collection of highly tactile, space-defining interior coverings puts ceramic tile into an interesting new perspective. 3D elements with different geometric forms and colours can be rearranged on large slabs, giving new life to dull two-dimensional walls.

La Belle Étoile | Slamp Designed by Adriano Rachele, this swirling confection of white texture printed on transparent polymers is inspired by the graceful twirling of a ballerina. Available in suspension and wall versions, the lamp is purportedly unbreakable, and the LED source can be quickly changed thanks to a magnetic hanging system.

Love | Zalaba Design This Zurich-based, family run design studio managed by Ginger Zalaba has tapped into its already impressive lineage of design talent: her grandfather Otto Kolb, a voice in the New Bauhaus movement, designed the iconic Love chair in 1950, and Ginger has now tweaked and re-launched it for 2018.

Newton | Maison Valentina This bathtub features a single slipperstyle shape made out of gold-plated casted iron. But c’mon: it’s the balls we love! The high-gloss black and gold lacquered spheres are meant to resemble a cluster of bubbles floating in a soaking bath.

Cup | Plank Being a world-famous product designer means lots of travel, so it’s not surprising that Konstantin Grcic appreciates the benefits of plastic shell suitcases. Light, flexible, strong yet good looking, suitcases made of thin vacuumformed plastic sheets have revolutionized an entire product species, and are now the inspiration for his new chair.




Inciso | Gessi Marking the Italian bathware company’s first collaboration with American designer David Rockwell, the formal gestures of early plumbing fixtures and the architectural sensibility of modern metalwork inspired this solid brass collection of faucets and accessories.

Kiik | Arper This collection of seating, tables, ottomans, and consoles designed by Ichiro Iwasaki is meant for waiting rooms, corporate lounge and other meeting spaces. Modularity is the name of this game: seats come with and without backrests; tables come in triangular, circular, square or rectangular shapes; and low or raised consoles.



Vimini | Kettal Inspired by Nanna Ditzel and her Basket chair, Patricia Urquiola’s Vimini (which means “wicker” in Italian) consists of a basket with large backrest cushions. Seen from the side and back it has that modernist look, but the braiding is traditional.

Most Illustrious | Bosa Elena Salmistraro pays homage to Italian design masters with this table decoration collection: Achille Castiglioni (on the centenary of his birth, in 2018), Riccardo Dalisi, Michele De Lucchi, Alessandro Mendini are transformed in threedimensional totem figures that reference the peculiar features of each designer while matching them to the product that made them famous.

Mullit | Sancal A “cushion with legs” was what Clara del Portillo and Alex Selma of Yonoh were going for with this poufy seat and back cushions set against the visual lightness of wooden or metal legs that look like toothpicks. A subtle ruffle has been used on its back to further the cushion motif.

Super Position | MDF Italia Design by Jean Nouvel, this bookcase family carries hallmarks of both designer and manufacturer: formal, lightweight, extremely graphic in its use of overlapping horizontality; a simple design in extruded aluminium assembled by using an invisible junction system.

Poppies | Missoni Home On a black and white backdrop, the precious hues of a field of exuberant poppies and colourful butterflies pop with colour. Colours and textures create layers on a reversible jacquard, like a painted canvas. The undulating flower stems decorate the double cushion of the backrest, in pure cotton reversible jacquard.




Tapio | Paola Lenti Designed by Francesco Rota, this line of indoor seating is composed of two different elements, augmentable through a combinations of fabrics, colours and finishing. The bearing structure is made of ash heartwood and is finished by hand in Mano Opaca, a transparent oil-based varnishing. La DoubleJ for Kartell They made a splash debuting at last year’s Salone del Mobile with a collection of vintage printed tableware and linens, and translated that splash into big new collaborations with three historic Italian brands, most notably Kartell. This 15 piece collection spans a wide range of furniture and tabletop items, many new designs, others are re-editions of Kartell’s iconic pieces wrapped in La DoubleJ prints.

Ami | Yamakawa What you see is what you get with these three basket tables. And that’s a-ok. Designed by Jun Yasumoto, the simplicity of these wicker tables is refreshing amid the din of Milanese excess. Light, flexible and non-intrusive, the white laminate top is removable and transforms them into practical indoor containers.

Oryx | Jori This new sofa model is, according to its maker, French designer Christophe Giraud, “an ode to the proud and elegant bearing of the antelope or oryx, regally posed on its slender legs and perfectly integrated in its natural environment.” Uh huh. Well, good thing the loose cushions are super-comfy. CANADIAN INTERIORS 5/6 2018


Invisible Personage | BD Barcelona In 1991, the Art Editions arm of BD began a process of producing and marketing furniture depicted by Salvador Dalí in his paintings. Three products have come out of this relationship, including the 2016 launch of the chair “Invisible personage” which appeared in Dalí’s 1935 “Singularities, c” and which has been re-issued in a limited edition set.

Pet Lights | Moooi Uhuh, Purr & Noot Noot (owl, rabbit & penguin) are a series of table lamps by Marcel Wanders. Whimsical in every sense of the word, their frosted glass bodies are decorated with touches of gold, in case they weren’t precious enough as they were.

Tape | Minotti Designed by the Japanese studio Nendo, at first glance the soft enveloping curve of the shell that forms the soft back cushion is what dominates this collection of seats, but upon closer inspection one notices the clever ribbon detail that appears to hold the light bronze-coloured metal legs externally to the structure, hence the name.


Rilievi | Cedit Designed by Zaven (a.k.a Enrica Cavarzan and Marco Zavagno), this new collection of highly tactile, space-defining interior coverings puts ceramic tile into an interesting new perspective. 3D elements with different geometric forms and colours can be rearranged on large slabs, giving new life to previously dull transforming two-dimensional walls.


creating better environments




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the goods 1 SILQ | Steelcase A vision 10 years in the making, the new SILQ chair by Steelcase uses a high-performance polymer material to emulate carbon fibre, resulting in a product that responds to the natural movements of the human body. Inspired by aerospace and the motion of a prosthetic limb, the chair is thin, strong, and responsive, resulting in a perfect blend of artistry and flexibility for each individual user. 2 Switch | Tayco Realized in collaboration with Toronto industrial design studio Fig40, the new Switch panel system by Tayco is a space-saving workstation intended to enhance performance and meet the needs of today’s modern office spaces. The unit is equipped with an electrical system; variable panel heights; laminate, fabric, acrylic, or tempered-glass panel faces; height-adjustable tables; wrap, gable, or ladder legs; and full- or cropped-depth work surfaces.

Rise n’ Grind

By Shannon Moore


From ergonomic workstations to office units, today’s designers bring

intuitive chairs and prefabricated improved visions to the office floor.





1 Sky Architectural Wall | Artopex Artopex’s Sky Architectural Wall collection is an attractive altern­ative to drywall. Measured on site and manufac­tured in Canada, the custom units are installed within eight weeks without the side effects of disruption, dust, and debris. The Walls are available in multiple finishes and colours, and contain superior soundproofing. They can also be ordered with hanging accessories, work surfaces, hutches for storage, and electrical components.

2 Catifa Up | Arper Marking the latest addition to Arper’s Catifa line, the Catifa Up chair combines a high backrest, optional armrests, plush padding, and polished or powder-coated aluminum base. The shell can be upholstered in fabric, leather, faux leather, or custom materials according to its planned use, for offices, home settings, conference rooms, and libraries.

4 Lasai Lounge | Studio TK Studio TK’s new Lasai Lounge collection was designed in partnership with Jean Louis Iratzoki of Alki, a furniture manufacturer from the northern Basque Country of Itsasu, France. Handmade using crafted oak and fine upholstered finishes, the single- and double-seated chairs are ideal for reception areas and casual meeting rooms.



3 Astute | Allseating A product with endless possibilities, Allseating’s new Astute chair brings the vision of design firm busk+hertzog to the office setting. The chair is available in over 85 variations, including sled, four-leg, or stool frames; two matte and 14 glossy paint colours; fully upholstered, partially upholstered, polypropylene, or wood seats and backrests; satin or polished aluminum or painted arms; and so...much...more.



5 Awla | Keilhauer Designed by Austria’s EOOS for Keilhauer, the Awla standing worktable is intended for offices, meeting rooms, lounges, and cafeterias. Available in counter or bar height in three sizes and 10 colours, the standing table boasts a sleek top, solid walnut or ashwood legs, and steel brackets and footrests. Best of all, the table contains an optional power unit with an invisible wire management system.


the goods


6 Jabbrrbox Founded by Brian Hackathorn and Jeremy Jennings, Jabbrrbox seeks to bring privacy to open-area offices. Combining technology and comfort, the 48” x 48” x 90” unit offers an escape for employees seeking quiet and distraction-free work areas. Prefabricated, furnished, fully wired, and available in nine powder-coated metal colours, the Jabbrrbox can be relocated around the office according to companies’ needs.


7 Poema | Koleksiyon Furniture that reduces carbon dioxide levels, airborne dust, and pollutants? Koleksiyon’s new Poema modular seating unit does just that. Designed by Studio Kairos, the flexible seat-and-worktop unit incorporates indoor plants into its design to enhance users’ well-being.

8 Trinetic | Boss Design Boss Design’s new Trinetic task chair has no manual user adjustments. Instead, it uses three independent pivot points along an aluminum cradle to allow the chair to follow, rather than resist, the user. Available with mesh, fabric, or leather seats and backrests, the chair is supportive and comfortable, and perfect for long work sessions.


9 Lox Chair | Coalesse Minimal in material and sculptural in silhouette, Coalesse’s Lox seating collection is characterized by its sweeping bucket-style seat. Available in fabric or leather with a polished aluminum swivel base, the chair and stool can be ordered in a variety of neutral and vibrant colours.


10 Evo | Innovative Winner of a 2017 Red Dot Award, Innovative’s Evo articulating monitor arm provides ergonomic and space-saving benefits through its minimal components, clean lines, and impressive range of motion. Available in flat white, silver, or vista black, in single or dual options, the Evo arm also contains a cable management system and a rotating head for portrait or landscape viewing modes.





D A TA By Matthew Hague

p l a n

Justin Rutledge

Analyzing stats, facts and numerical (as opposed to style) trends is changing interior design. But for the better?



Previous page and this page: Qanuk converted a Toronto church into an office for Behaviour, a marketing company. The space is quirky—and possibly sacrilegious—with church pews in the meeting areas and a riot of patterns and colours. Opposite page: Gensler applied an Audrey Hepburn/Gwen Stefani spectrum to the plan for Weber Shandwick’s new office. From Audrey came timeless black and white palettes, which are built elements that will have long life. From Gwen came an exuberant CMYK scheme used in transparency on the glass fronts, and oversized plaid in the reception area’s light fixture.

improved among 83 per cent of the staff. “Bench is on the forefront of employee-focused design and wellness,” says Baba. “So we wanted to ensure we learned from creating an office with such an openness to work styles. The data helps Bench understand any successes and misses for any future growth. The data gathered will also really help all of our future work.”

The Vancouver headquarters of Bench Accounting, a bookkeeping platform for entrepreneurs and freelancers, has 24 different styles of workstations, in addition to the familiar, solitary desk and chair model. Each day, 300 employees spread out across the 50,114-sq.-ft. space. No one has an assigned seat, instead they can opt to lounge by a biofuel fireplace, collaborate in a meeting room (which may have a view of a row of 34 bonsai trees), or seclude themselves on a maple-plywood banquet in a quiet, cushion-filled nook. As a testament to the space’s inherent flexibility, a display shelf of stools is stacked near the lobby, ready for use by anyone who might need to grab a seat on the fly.

In most major economic sectors — notably tech, but also banking, transportation and even government services — data-driven decision making has achieved Beyoncé-level hype. It promises to not only change, but vastly improve, just about everything. The thinking goes that by pulling insights from large data sets, engineers, investment bankers and computer scientists can make more informed, logical decisions and in turn better apps, products and stock picks. Hunches, whims and guess work are out. Statistics and verifiable facts (sorry, Trump) are in.

At first glance, the office, finished in 2017 by the Vancouver offshoot of international design firm Perkins+Will, might seem like a showcase of many of the workplace trends of the last decade or so. Standup desks? Check. A pet-friendly policy and lots of sofas and soft rugs so that the space feels more living room, less corporate? Check. Raw, industrial concrete contrasted with woodsy millwork? Check. Hyggeinflected everything? Double check. The only things missing are the foosball table and the slide. Rather than being a strictly trend-driven project, though, Perkins+Will conceived the space carefully (if quickly — it came together in a blistering seven weeks) based on client-centric insights. Through a series of pre-design interviews with Bench’s staff, the studio learned that “the aspect of choice of how people are working through the space was imperative,” says senior designer Kimberly Baba. Perkins+Will also collected valuable information throughout and after the design. For example, a post-occupancy survey revealed that inter-employee collaboration — a key goal — either stayed the same or CANADIAN INTERIORS 5/6 2018


Now, all that is changing. Data analysis is upending interiors as well. More and more, the most influential design companies are hiring data experts, and opting for studies, surveys and other means of data collection to glean new, innovation-sparking insights. But does this really result in a better built environment?

Justin Rutledge

Creative industries, though, typically aren’t lumped alongside those driven by cold-hard numbers. The only trend reports many interior designers have historically needed are those found in the pages of Canadian Interiors magazine. Artistic intuition, good taste and a strong sense of aesthetics are impossible to pull out of an Excel spreadsheet. And, in the past, the figures that played a role — size of the working area, the number of occupants, the budget — tended to be easy enough that an advanced mathematics degree wasn’t required.

Tom Arban



Janine Grossman, a principal with Perkins+Will who leads the company’s Toronto and Ottawa interior design practices, thinks so. To her, the way we interact with our buildings is important, either creating healthier, happier, more productive people. Or, you know, not. And the best way to ensure top results isn’t speculation, it’s data. “We use it all the time,” she says. “It’s something that has expanded over the last few years. It has really helped us with our clients. It gives them proof of concept, to make the design defensible to their stakeholders.”

32,000-sq.-ft. space has a bold, of-the-moment aesthetic. It’s housed in the garret of a converted church, with exposed, century-old ceiling beams soaring over a hyper-vibrant space. Ecclesiastical touches — vintage church pews, quatrefoil patterning on the walls, carpeting that looks like stained glass — are offset by irreverent details, including a wallpaper at the entryway that looks like a garden of flowers exposed to nuclear radiation (the blooms are massive) and a café area that echoes the au courant Memphis revival (electric blues, geometric patterns).

In addition to helping clients, Grossman recently worked on the renovation of four of Perkins+Will’s own offices, in New York, Chicago, Seattle and Minneapolis. “We put ourselves through the paces,” she says, noting how the studio brought on Leesman, a company that benchmarks industry performance, to study the habits of Perkins Will staff. “Leesman measured our employee experience, satisfaction and productivity,” says Grossman. “What they found is that we were not using our spaces the way we thought we were. 40 per cent of the time, they were not fully utilized.”

“We really took inspiration from Behaviour’s culture,” says Lindsay Konior, noting the urbane vibe of the 40-odd, mostly young employees. “We wanted to make a space that the staff would really feel at home in, which they could see themselves in. Also, Behaviour’s clients include big companies such as Molson and Telus. When they come here, the impression should be highly creative, a place of new ideas.”

That single insight allowed Perkins+Will to shrink their office footprints by 20 per cent (saving lease expenses in the process), and design more flexible desk set-ups for their on-the-go team (they’ve moved to a hoteling model, where no one has an assigned seat). But Grossman doesn’t see data as a silver bullet solution. “I don’t think that data will eclipse everything else,” she says. “We have to find ways to work with it in tandem with the softer side of things, including brand and culture. When we weave all that together, that’s when we end up with something really meaningful.” The Toronto offices of Behaviour, a creative agency, feature that harmonious blend. Designed by Toronto-based Qanuk Interiors, the CANADIAN INTERIORS 5/6 2018


The usage numbers pushed Konior toward a shared desk model, common in many contemporary offices. It also gave her fresh inspiration for the lobby. Instead of an austere, intimidating welcome desk, everyone enters into the café area, manned by a professional barista (one who used to run the coffee program at Soho House) and an Elektra espresso maker. “We only serve about 50 coffees a day, maybe,” says O’Hara, “but the investment is worth it because it makes the staff very happy. It’s a very energetic place where people gravitate to.”

Ema Peter

The exuberance is all underpinned by smart insights provided by Behaviour’s co-founder, Scott O’Hara. Before the renovation, he calculated that on any given day, about 40 per cent of his staff was absent. “20 to 25 per cent would be at client meetings, 10 per cent would be on vacation or home sick, and 10 per cent would be out at a coffee shop, because they were craving good coffee while they worked,” says O’Hara.

This spread: Perkins+Will’s strategy for Bench Accounting was to channel the majority of resources into social spaces, which meant lounge and fully serviced kitchens on each floor. Existing concrete slabs were sealed and exposed ceilings retained, adding to the raw aesthetic of the space. With a corporate philosophy emphasizing wellness, choice, and culture, the scheme provides 24 different typologies of workspace apart from individual workstations, equating to a ratio of 0.8 alternative work locations for every dedicated workstation.



This spread: The design for Miller Thompson is based on the creation of a series of working neighbourhoods. A central street combines all of the communal facilities, and links the front-of-house client experience with the heart of the staff facilities. These staff areas are centred on the forum, with its stadium-style seating and loft space work area. All of the communal facilities sit on a raised timber floor that connects to the sunken working area of the neighbourhoods.

Perhaps counter-intuitively, then, analyzing data can actually spur seemingly spontaneous ingenuity. Recently, Gensler, the world’s largest architecture firm, designed the 32,000-sq.-ft. Toronto offices of media relations company Weber Shandwick. “Within our company is the Gensler Research Institute, which seeks to analyze everything, even things that are hard to analyze, like experience and innovation.” says interior designer Annie Bergeron, who led the Weber Shandwick project. So in addition to coming up with industry-specific standards — say, the average size a media company allots to each employee — the institute develops methods for thinking about less tangible information.

ditional: law. However, in 2016, blue-chip firm Miller Thomson moved into a new, 54,000-sq.ft. space in Vancouver that completely defies all conventions. Instead of a hallowed, cloistered library, the books are spread out along a central “street” in the middle of the office, which in turn has little hierarchy (as in, no corner offices). The overall look is unusual for a law firm, too. 200 employees are spread out on the single floor of a converted Sears department store (replacing five, disjointed floors in a conventional tower), where there is no mahogany wainscoting or heavy leather club chairs. Instead, white oak abounds, creating a beach-y, super casual feel. Being social is encouraged through shared desk spaces, which helps foster both osmotic learning for younger employees, and reverse mentorship so older generations get used to the ways of their millennial counterparts.

“When we engage a client, we have a number of targeted exercises, including surveys, focus groups and questionnaires,” says Bergeron. “But we also just spend a lot of time listening and observing.” With Weber Shandwick, the company self-described as timeless, classic, even conservative. “But as we were meeting with them, we saw this amazing, dynamic culture. They said they were Audrey Hepburn, what we saw was Gwen Stefani. So in the end we asked them on a scale of 0 to Gwen Stefani, how funky are you? Turns out, much more Gwen Stefani than they thought.”

According to Bill Dowzer, principal of BVN design studio, which worked with Vancouver’s Studio B on the project, presenting Miller Thomson with solid, data-informed decisions was essential to back-up the design. “Having solid facts and figures is the only way you can sell an idea to a law firm,” he says. “They are very good at interrogating an idea, so the only way that you can take them out of their comfort zone is to support your ideas with something very, very concrete.”

The insight carries through the entire office. Although the base palette is black, white and grey (very Hepburn) a row of CKMY-hued glass partitions separates the meeting rooms from the work stations. When the partitions slide, the colours combine and new tints emerge. “You see greens and purples,” says Bergeron of the LEED Platinum office. “It’s really dynamic, and not at a high cost.” To Bergeron, gathering and thinking about data is what fuels, as opposed to stifles, imagination. “Data is something that lives, and gets updated, as we do more projects and the work place evolves,” says Bergeron. “It’s not confining: it’s a source of new ideas, and it helps us evolve because those new ideas produce new data in future projects that then goes into our data sets and changes what we currently know.” The evolution caused by data-driven design might be starkest in an industry whose office vernacular — ultra-conservative corner offices lined with legal tomes and decked in dark woods — seems rigidly traCANADIAN INTERIORS 5/6 2018


BVT also paid very close attention to the details. At the outset, they positioned several designers in Miller Thomson’s old offices for a month to study how the lawyers worked. “We knew they wanted to move toward something more collaborative,” says Dowzer. “Which typically means having working spaces for six to eight people. At a law firm, though, we saw that there are a higher number of introverts than normal. And for them, collaboration really means tables for three to four people. That really helped us refine the model.”

Ed White

For example, BVT had to show how a more open, flexible office would help attract and retain talent and boost productivity. They not only provided Miller Thompson survey results from similarly innovative law offices, but introduced the firm to other law offices who could vouch for the benefits, including improved recruitments numbers, talent retention and higher productivity.



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Below Open plenum ceilings, graphic branding, a panoply of furniture and seating options and the provision of a bright town hall space all act to position Aviva squarely against every global player in the technology space for the city’s top talent.

Eye of the Beholder How experiential graphics heighten corporate identity

Here’s how it used to work: You’d create a space and then slap some art on the blank walls. Hopefully, the paintings or graphic prints chosen would jive with the company’s aesthetic. Most often, artwork was there to impress, to indicate the company’s self-worth and status. A decade ago, you’d have done your job and the client would be happy. That was then; this is now. Now it’s all about a democratic sense of what art is. The idea of a single artist interpreting the world for us seems quaint. Now anyone can create a photograph or a digital image or an opinion piece or a presidency, for that matter. It is up to the public to decide whether these have merit or not. Like everything else in our fast-evolving world, this ceding of control to the user group can have its upside and its downside.

Steve Tsai

By Leslie C. Smith


In the field of interior design, the pluses far outweigh any minuses. Experiential graphic design has been exploding in recent years, thanks in large part to new technologies that allow almost anything you can think of to magically appear. Whatever image you want can be digitally 5/6 2018 CANADIAN INTERIORS

That sense of community and connection is viewed as vital to the modern workplace, where talent attraction and retention is key. Perhaps more important, though, is branding. Graphics give staff and visitors visual cues as to what a company is all about, helping shape the company’s image and set it apart in the marketplace.

printed on vinyl or polyester and applied to a wall. It can also be transferred to a textile, wood, metal, glass or composite materials. Engraving, laser-cutting, even 3D printing are at our fingertips. Tiny LEDs provide framing, or backlighting to make an image seem to spring to life. Truer to life are high-def video projections and digital graphics that can change on a whim, or with user interaction. And they do it all at a cost that is equal to or less than a pricey piece of artwork.



Figure3 has its own internal graphics designers, and works with outside agencies when a job requires diving to a deeper level. Although they still use graphics as artwork, Bettencourt says super-graphics are “coming in everywhere,” representing a significant trend. Enlarged lettering and geometrics, close-ups and exploded images that sometimes spill over onto ceilings and floors can create their own space within a space, and stretch out brand messaging to the nth degree.

Ema Peter

They are called experiential because they do so much more than simply hang on a wall. Michael Tripp, director of sales and marketing for the Canadian graphic design firm EurOptimum, outlines their attributes: “Graphics used in interior design can assist with wayfinding, promote brand identity or simply shape how people experience a space. The graphics may include subtle influences on the environment’s interior design or create a bold statement that focuses the user’s attention in a specific area. Often, companies choose graphics that align with their organization’s culture or that assist in cultivating a sense of community and collaboration for their employees. In all cases, graphics are meant to engage the users and evoke an emotional connection.”

In the last 10 years, says Suzanne Bettencourt, principal with Toronto’s figure3, the business world has grown to understand the impact of branding, beyond merely stamping labels on packaged goods. “Communicating a brand internally is just as important as communicating it externally. Corporations use graphics as a shorthand to relay core values, to show that they care about their staff and the environment.”

This spread: Dialog inserted a ring-road corridor throughout the office that “connects employees to different points of discovery.” Along this walk are pieces of Capcom’s intellectual property, such as life-size figurines and hand sketches that stand out against the space’s refined and elegant Japanese-inspired palette, which is itself a nod to Capcom’s origins.



would attract computer and AI development talent, and offer staff complete flexibility in the way they worked.

Bettencourt particularly likes how “they can relay an emotion and let you immerse yourself in a theme. High-definition photography makes it easy now to create a larger-than-life, immersive image that can change the way you think of existing within four walls.” She offers the example of altering the feel of an enclosed work-station through imposing a super-graphic of a natural view. Even though an employee knows it’s just a wall, “the graphic tells your brain there’s something beyond that wall. It affects you psychologically for the better.” So in graphics, size matters? “I don’t see it that way,” she says. “It doesn’t have to be big and bold. It can be subtle, too, a form of discovery. It’s whatever you want it to be. In wayfinding, for instance, it helps you code departments and areas, sending signals – this is a quiet area, this is a collaborative area, this is a social area. Graphics give you permission and signals to behave in a certain way.” As for branding, Bettencourt points to a recently completed project, Aviva Digital Garage, where graphics, big and small, played a major role. Aviva Canada, a subsidiary of the U.K.-based Aviva plc, is a property and casualty insurance group headquartered in the heart of Toronto’s Bay Street district. The company has repositioned itself as a specialist in fintech — technology-driven financial services — and needed an office that spoke to this transition. It required a space that CANADIAN INTERIORS 5/6 2018


Vancouver’s Dialog Design has created something pretty fantastic for their own client, Japan-based Capcom, developer and publisher of such popular video games as Dead Rising, Street Fighter and Mega Man. Given this background, you’d expect bold, colour-filled graphics spilling through the sprawling building set in a business park in Burnaby. But, according to interior design associate Janay Koldingnes and Jessica Vitale, Dialog’s national graphic design manager, that wasn’t the aesthetic that emerged. Visual over-stimulation only

Stéphane Brügger

Imagine, if you will, the normal buttoned-down atmosphere surrounding downtown Toronto’s First Canadian Place. Then picture a digital start-up plunked right in the middle of it, complete with a “real” garage wall banked by steel lockers, a meeting room with a backwall vinyl rendition of barnboard, “loading zone” stripes running along the floor to indicate where the invisible “walls” are positioned, and a reception area fitted with colourful twin portraits of Steve Jobs and a Renaissance woman printed on conjoined floppy discs. It all speaks to creativity, exploration and ease of movement: the garage being a toolshed where you don’t need a suit and tie, but can just roll up your sleeves and get down to doing something fantastic.

Opposite Multiple canvasses meant to fuel creativity were employed in Electronic Arts’ new Montréal office, by Sid Lee Architecture, and include bringing the “outside in” throughout common lounge areas. Above: The reinforcement of the Harley-Davidson brand, and the celebration of the experiences of both the riders and the dealers, was a driving inspiration for Taylor Smyth Architects for all aspects of the design of the new offices in Vaughan, Ont. For example, a custom wall sculpture over the black vinyl banquet in the café is fabricated out of handle bar grips to spell out LET’S RIDE.

rey space is a sublimely tranquil digital koi pond, a 20-foot screen projection of animated koi fish perpetually emerging from “ink blotches” to swim through a soft blue-and-white background.

adds to employee stress in such an intense industry. Focus and relaxation were key to staff happiness and retention.

Ben Rahn/A-Frame

Dialog is a little different from many other design firms, in that they have a dedicated graphics department that is brought into the loop from the very first client meeting. Capcom wanted to tell a corporate story that referenced its strong Japanese roots as well as its link to Vancouver’s cool gaming culture. Craftsmanship, design and tranquility were the qualities identified in that initial meeting, resulting, Koldingnes says, in “a Japanese-ish approach” of blended sophistication. Beautiful wood, transparency and serenity thus permeate the space, which is internally encircled by a glass-balustraded ring-road that leads staff and visitors through a series of experiential graphics acting as both art and subtle wayfinding signals. Collaborative areas are indicated by shoji-like walls whose slats run up across the ceiling. Studios allow a glimpse into developers’ minds via writeable vinyl walls that act as live sketch-books, or living graphics, if you will. Some meeting rooms have glazed doorways with frosted vinyl lines “etched” in origami angles; others are partially obscured with super-graphics of soft blue “ink blotches” that speak to the company’s artistry. In reception, the café and some meeting rooms, giant pencil sketches of heroes and villains in action offer energy. Yet linking and dominating the two-sto-

Capcom’s Canadian headquarters offers a primer on how graphics are now merging with interior design to create something greater. “Branding and story-telling are the future of the design world, and clients are really starting to recognize the importance of graphics in this mix,” says Koldingnes. “Regardless of whom you’re designing for, it’s our job as designers to pull out the exciting parts and highlight them.” Jessica Vitale says super-graphics are often the best way to do this. “Scale helps them be better used by the viewer going through the space, provoking, guiding and starting conversations, enhancing endproduct and user experience.”


Vitale adds that artwork of any kind has always played a role in our society, from pre-history hieroglyphics to the modern age: “It’s another way to break down language barriers and have a silent conversation that connects us.” In today’s virtual post-literate society, graphic communication has becomes more and more important in every aspect of our lives. There is now no question that it has a huge role to play in the way our spaces can and should be crafted. 5/6 2018 CANADIAN INTERIORS


2 3


Hobnobbin’ Season


Text and photos by David Lasker












X marks the spot

The mere fact of the Hotel X Toronto’s 30-storey tower block rising incongruously on the CNE’s low-rise campus, across from the Enercare Centre, caused controversy. Still, its time had come. The lack of a convenient nearby convention hotel had hindered the CNE’s ability to attract trade shows. Here, finally, is a high-end Toronto hotel that exploits Lake Ontario views.


1—The hotel’s designers, New York-based Andi Pepper and her husband, Stephen Jacobs, who head their eponymous interior design and architecture firms, respectively. (Toronto’s NORR was the architect of record.) 2— Hotel X partner Joshua Durst, scion of a controversial New York real estate developer family (the HBO series The Jinx, and the film All Good Things, starring Frank Langella and Ryan Gosling, portray fictionalized versions of Joshua’s uncle and murder suspect, Robert Durst); and sales and marketing director Celso Thompson. 3— Library Hotel Collection president Henry Kallan; and Dianne Young, CEO, Board of Governors of Exhibition Place. 4— Hotel X’s project architect, Luke Cunnington of Stephen B. Jacobs Group; and general manager Colleen Ross.

Scavolini social Scavolini, the Italian manufacturer of high-end modular kitchens and bathroom furnishings, threw a Terroni-catered party to launch their new Toronto showroom and store in the Castlefield Design District.


1—Cynthia Bourland-Ernst, of her eponymous Kitchener-Waterloo insurance agency; Luiza Alexa, president of Scavolini Toronto; Daniele Busca, showroom manager and creative director at Scavolini’s New York store; and Alisha Serras, owner of Scavolini stores in Boston, Chicago, Detroit and Washington. 2— Gian Marco Scavolini, VP of the family firm based in Pesaro, Italy; Horia Gruia, co-owner of Scavolini Toronto; and Francesco Farina, CEO, Scavolini USA. 3— Sculptor Bruno Billio, artist-in residence at the Gladstone Hotel; and Jeremy Guth, founding partner at ARC, whose mission, Guth says, “is to eliminate roadkill” by practicing “conservation with a designer twist” and putting wildlife crossings over and under highways. 4— Scavolini Toronto designers Armand Legrand and Hanspreet Kalsi; Stefan Jobb, district manager, Gaggenau; Andrew Abrahamse, Ontario sales manager at Bosch and Siemens Home Appliances Group; and Scavolini Toronto designer Isabel Ordonez. 5— Renato Hott, VP, and his wife, Alessandra, CFO, at stone fabricator Select Granite Tops. 6— Adriana Dochia of her self-named interior design firm; Azita Hekmati, business development manager at appliance maker Miele; Eric McClelland, owner, Fleur-de-Lis Interior Design; and John Crawford, territory manager at office chair manufacturer Nightingale. 7— Anne Vos, owner of Super Orange, the Canadian distributor of European manufacturers Flos, Moooi, Molteni and Dada; his wife, Design Exchange president and CEO Shauna Levy; and their 13-year-old daughter, Jaya.


RDHA’s RAIC reception Toronto-based RDHA’ had two reasons to party on a sunny April evening: to commemorate the contributions of retiring principal Rob Boyko; and winning the RAIC’s 2018 Architectural Firm Award. The award citation praised RDHA’ s “remarkable consistency throughout the last 10 to 15 years of work by a younger generation of designers that have taken over the firm and kept the lineage and re-established themselves as a leading designing firm in Toronto.”



1—Steve Gusterson, VP sales, Ontario at Alumicor, the Toronto-based supplier of aluminum building-envelope products; Mahyar Tavassoli, director of major projects at general contractor Bird; retiring RDHA principal and party honoree Rob Boyko, with his tapestry artist wife, Vala; Weimin Liang, principal, structural division at architecture and engineering firm EXP; and RDHA marketing manager Jennifer Conron. 2— Kevin Farbridge, principal at mechanical and electrical engineers Smith+Andersen; Nate Simpson, manager, business development at fire-protection firm LRI Engineering; Gordon Ho, principal, EXP; and RDHA managing principal Bob Goyeche. 3— Library consultant John Hardy; Tetsuro Saito, manager, Learning Commons, Educational Resources Department, George Brown College; pharmacist Neelu Hoq and her husband, RDHA principal Momin Hoq. 4— Caitlin Cooper, associate at landscape architecture firm Elias Plus, with her boss, Aina Elias, principal at her eponymous firm; and RDHA principal Geoff Miller. 5— Tony Lopes, RDHA project manager and IT director; Myra Cosentino, Resource and Information Specialist, Community Employment Services, Student Affairs, Sheridan College; and RDHA principal Tyler Sharp. 6— Larry Mirkopoulos, principal, Cinespace Film Studios; Fay Soultanis of her eponymous interior design firm; and her husband, John Bettio, senior architect, RDHA. 7— Bill Lazarakis, principal, tenant services at engineering firm The Hidi Group; Douglas Smith, principal, Smith+Andersen; Robert Holroyd, partner at building envelope and structure firm Engineering Link; and Alina Cornea, sales rep, Royal LePage.



Design Klaus

Looking back as a Canadian design iconic turns 50

By John Martins-Manteiga

more likeable than others; but Klaus was so likeable, and he was so honest, and eager. I remember seeing him with students. It was as if they were his own children. He was so sympathetic to them and understanding. That is something that not every person has in their nature.”

“Klaus is a character from a more romantic time—like Cary Grant or Gregory Peck. A real character in a true story that is nostalgic, fascinating, and charming. He is extremely charismatic, intelligent, and amiable.” This is from Tom David, who worked with Klaus Nienkämper. David’s feelings come from years of working alongside his mentor in all aspects of design and manufacturing. He says Klaus is a clotheshorse and always immaculately dressed. This attention to wardrobe detail mirrors Klaus’s pursuit of excellence in product design.

Klaus believes in reaching out to talent and encouraging excellence. One example was a student lounge-chair competition in 1989. The Nienkämper sponsored nationwide contest would seek to find the best college and university industrial-design talent. Three cash prizes would be offered to the best three designers. The winner’s work would be put into production and receive a three per cent royalty. Without question the choice would be made towards sensible, functional design. Sculptors need not apply.

David continues: “Klaus makes everyone feel comfortable around him. His homes are like art galleries. He loves art and he loves to promote design in Toronto. He tries to improve the culture of the city and Canada in general.” This idea to improve a wider culture came in many forms particular to Nienkämper. The community outreach included the Nienkämper-sponsored Ultra Mobile, an exhibition of modern and contemporary design mounted at both the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario in 1973.

Adele Freedman in the Globe and Mail wrote: “When an Italian manufacturer asks a designer to come up with a new chair design, it’s all in a day’s work. For a Canadian manufacturer to do something similar puts him within range of an Order of Canada. It matters when a designer has a potential client (Nienkämper) and a pragmatic end in sight (production).” Freedman ended her article with, “Beyond any doubt is the value of the Nienkämper competition, both to students and the sedentary public at large. Nienkämper has set an example, and he’s hopeful that other manufacturers will follow his lead.”

There was more to come. When Nienkämper’s relationship with Knoll ended, Klaus wanted to do something big. What better than an exhibition celebrating twenty years in business and still going strong. Nienkämper: Design Alliance – The First Twenty Years was held at the AGO in 1988. The exhibition and launch party were one of the city’s most memorable events. Alison Hymus was at the launch party. “We can go through history and find people who have been and have set that example, and some were CANADIAN INTERIORS 5/6 2018


The preceding is an excerpt from the book Nienkämper: 50 Years of Excellence from Design to Delivery, published by Dominion Modern, © 2018.

Photo courtesy of Nienkämper

over & out

Acrylic partition panels with digital print on frosted vinyl Dr. Andrea Csiszar Inc / West Coast Perio Design: Fusion Projects

THE JAMES COLLECTION NEVER A BORED ROOM SINCE 1978 Meghan Smith 416-459-2610 Ontario

Maureen Kehoe 604-244-9419 Vancouver

Louise Coté 514-996-0204 Quebec

Graham Steeves 416-948-6987 Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba

Canadian Interiors June July 2018  

Canadian Interiors is Canada’s leading magazine targeted at interior design professionals. Since its launch in 1964, the magazine is a must...

Canadian Interiors June July 2018  

Canadian Interiors is Canada’s leading magazine targeted at interior design professionals. Since its launch in 1964, the magazine is a must...