Designers of the Year 2017: Ones to Watch
Five up-and-coming designers from across the West.
In addition to our winning Designers of the Year we selected five rising stars (in our fashion, furniture, industrial, landscape and maker categories) to feature in our September issue. Check out their work below!
Fashion Designer to Watch: Becki Chan
Cast in sterling silver, each piece of jewellery in Becki Chan’s Grey line is inspired by her sculptural work, featuring minimalistic geometric designs, with clean lines that are combined and repeated. “I have always wanted to turn my sculptures and conceptual architectural models into jewellery,” says Chan. Born in Hong Kong but now residing in Vancouver, Chan is a jack of all trades when it comes to her career: her experience spans sculpture, spatial design, brand interiors and public installation…and now, over the past two years, jewellery design. From her studio in Vancouver, she focuses on using silver and gemstones to create pieces that are artful yet wearable, like the Rift ring collection (pictured), which features a number of bold linear designs, each with slight variations in the metal as they are all handcrafted. “I want quality,” says Chan. “I want something that is beautiful and that is going to last.”—Lexy Dien
Industrial Designer to Watch: Ko Júbilo
It was a visit to a friend’s graduation presentation at Emily Carr University that first opened Ko Júbilo’s eyes to the power of industrial design. “His presentation showed me the potential of how design could affect the world we live in,” Júbilo says. After getting his own degree and working for studios in Vancouver and London, Júbilo started experimenting with projects in his garage before opening his atelier in 2015. Though he takes on a variety of works, his philosophy is consistent: “My approach is driven by innovation and the interplay between concept and materiality. It’s a more minimal aesthetic that relies on the efficient use of form and material.” His Lightway project melds together doors and light fixtures, highlighting passageways through the interaction of shadow and material; his Beam shelf rethinks shelving as a light source (pictured). “I’m always fascinated with taking on new types of projects,” says Júbilo, “and finding the intersections between different techniques and disciplines.”—Alec Regino
Landscape Designer to Watch: Claire Kennedy Design
“Plants were my first love in landscape design,” says designer Claire Kennedy. After volunteering and studying in the University of British Columbia’s Botanical Garden, she quit her account executive job and now, 25 years later, Kennedy’s passion for nature serves as the pivotal philosophy behind her firm, Claire Kennedy Design. Though she’s based in Vancouver, her work sees her collaborating with architects on plenty of island projects too, such as a 10-acre property on Bowen Island. There, a driveway winds through native woodlands to the gorgeous contemporary home by Frits de Vries Architects. Kennedy placed varieties of ornamental grasses and perennials with aromatic leaves and flowers to thwart the local environment’s challenges, such as drought and deer. The interdependence of the local surroundings to the house is important to Kennedy. “The strength of a landscape is in its connection to the home.”—A.R.
Furniture Designer to Watch: Studio Brovhn
“It’s always easy to look at something when it’s very minimal and think that it’s really simple,” says Miguel Brovhn, founder and principal of Vancouver furniture design company Studio Brovhn. But putting his bachelor’s degree in architecture to use, Brovhn applies the latest in technological advances to design his collection of minimalist metal and wood feature pieces. The Glacier coffee table (pictured), inspired by Icelandic glaciers, is made with powdercoated aluminum and lasercut with a clean pattern of parallel lines. While many designers start off with a sketch pad and pencil, Brovhn starts by looking at how a piece can be fabricated and works backward from there. “We are very intrigued with materials and textures,” he says. “Even just psychologically. When you look at a material—does it feel warm or cold?”—Aryn Strickland
Maker to Watch: Rachel Saunders
When Rachel Saunders quit her day job at a clothing company in L.A. almost three years ago, she was moving home to follow her dream to work with her hands. Today, this Victoria-based ceramicist is living it, getting her hands dirty crafting earth into stunning vessels. “I think one of the most engaging and beautiful parts about handmade pottery is the material itself,” she says. “It’s so neat to see all the different colours and imperfections that can come out of an organic matter that literally comes from the earth.” To highlight the raw material, she leaves most of her vessels unglazed or brushes only the inside with a translucent gloss. Her designs pair the rich clay of the Pacific Northwest with forms well suited to ikebana, the art of Japanese floral arrangement that stresses balance—evident in the sleekly designed Torus vase (pictured). “I was making these strange shapes that wouldn’t really fit the standard bouquet,” she confesses.—Christine Beyleveldt