Designers At Home: Exploring Douglas Cridland’s Art-Filled Calgary Condo
A decades-long collection of art provides the launch point for designer Douglas Cridland’s condo.
When Douglas Cridland travels, he doesn’t take photos. Instead, his memories take the form of objets d’art he’s picked up along the way—pieces, from a puppet head he found in Prague to a Roman bust from Pompeii—that now surround him in his Calgary condo. The penthouse, in the downtown neighbourhood of Eau Claire, is designed around this formidable collection, which he started when he was just 16 and spending the summer in Inuvik. “Everyone else was buying buckskin jackets,” he says, “and I was buying Inuit prints and soapstone carvings.”
That early love of art, paired with a keen interest in colour, texture and scale, has turned into a 45-year-strong career in interior design. Throughout, he’s remained in Calgary, held here by its youthful energy and relatively blank slate in terms of architecture—a city that gives him a refreshing freedom to create bold designs.
Giving and taking are the marks of a successful designer, as is embracing change. And Cridland switches it up often, be it a sofa or a living space. He’s lived in both spacious houses and cozy condos, and he cherishes and casts off pieces with the same aplomb. A Biedermeier chest that he once thought he’d never part with (featured in a past issue of Western Living) has since been let go, while his latest object of desire, a Carlo Scarpa table, has pride of place in the bedroom.
His carefully curated collection (his rule is simple: live with what you love) is currently amassed in an intimate iteration of his living space. “I like the freedom that the smaller jewel-box condo gives me,” says Cridland. “I can showcase specific things in a dramatic sense without having to spread them over 6,000 square feet.”
Cridland gutted the 2,188-square-foot condo, taking the space from two bedrooms to an airier and more striking one. The ceiling height ranges from nine feet to 19 in the library, a two-storey volume that’s taller than it is wide. It’s Cridland’s favourite room, with its odd proportions and dark panels juxtaposed with floor-to-ceiling windows that illuminate his books and curios.
The effect achieved is both calm and dramatic. “I like to think of it as a very city, New York-y kind of feel,” says Cridland. “I’ve always been more interested in nighttime residences for myself because that’s when I spend the most time at home.” As such, the space is moody and dark, with a wall colour that’s a rich charcoal green (the C2 paint is Wildwood). And while the view of Calgary’s cityscape, from skyscrapers to the Peace Bridge, is fabulous anytime, Cridland is partial to its night vista. “I like the sparkle of the lights, the signs on the buildings and the massing of architecture,” he explains. “I think nighttime architecture is sometimes prettier than daytime architecture—it’s a little more forgiving.”
Set against that view, a lifetime of art is everywhere, even in the bathroom, where a figurine sits between the sinks in front of the window. Cridland likes to play with the context of his art. “I’m fascinated with three-dimensional sculptures,” he says. “I can place them against glass and get a piece of art into the skyscape.”
Experimentation and change is a constant for Cridland, much like his art. He straddles contemporary and classical design and mixes high and low decor, from that $12,000 Scarpa table to the Paris-flea-market-find table in the living room. Art, whether $80,000 or $800, is what grounds it all. “That’s what I love most in my life, more than furniture or a set of Boffi kitchen cabinets. I like art that, to me, is the individuality of my style.”
Read our Q&A with Douglas Cridland here!