Designers of the Year Photo Credit: Western Living

Designers of the Year 2017: Where Are They Now?

To celebrate our 10th annual Designers of the Year awards, we chat with past winners about how far they’ve come since taking home the DOTY trophy—and what’s next on the horizon.


Heather Howat, Battersby Howat
ARCHITECTURE AND INTERIORS 2011

Who has been influential to the Western Canadian design scene? Patkau Architects and Peter Cardew.

Can you share any memories from your awards night? Feeling happy and honoured to be recognized for both architecture and interior design!

How do you think design has changed in Western Canada over the last 10 years? There is a new openness to modern design out there now.

What’s inspiring you now? Travel is the key to broadening our horizons and inspiring us these days.

What’s your proudest design moment? When our clients have moved in and let us know how happy they are in their custom home we’ve designed with them.


Designers of the Year 2009
(Photo: Martin Tessler.)

Mitchell Freedland, Mitchell Freedland Design
INTERIORS 2009

Who has been influential to the Western Canadian design scene? Arthur Erickson for architecture and Robert Ledingham for interiors.

Can you share any memories from your awards night? Anxious anticipation.

What’s inspiring you now? Nature, always, and the accomplished work of Atelier AM.

What are you excited to work on in the future? The possibility of retail environment branding.

What’s your proudest design moment? When a client is moved to tears of joy when entering their new home.

What do you think the future of our local design scene will be? What do you think it needs? It just keeps getting better with time. As a small centre, access to great suppliers is always a challenge. The ones we do have are to be commended for their effort to bring their vision of the world to us.


(Photo: Carlo Ricci.)

Brent Comber, Brent Comber Originals
FURNITURE 2013

Has anything changed about the work you do since you’ve won? Everything is still driven by story. I’m involved in larger projects with well-known brands who want to bring their own story to life, but I’m also working through my own personal projects, such as my first upholstered chair.

How do you think design has changed in Western Canada over the last 10 years? It’s more collaborative and accessible. On the other hand, smaller studio space is harder to find and less affordable closer to most cities now. The quality and variety of work, however, has improved.

What’s inspiring you now? I’ve been drawing on the colours and life found within the intertidal zone around Ucluelet for some upcoming pieces.

What’s your proudest design moment? The first time I could prove good design doesn’t hinge on technology. Perseverance and understanding the process made me feel good about my future as a designer.



David Nicolay, Evoke International
INTERIORS 2008

Who has been influential to the Western Canadian design scene? Battersby Howat. They really set a new tone for West Coast modernism in residential design.

Who are you most excited about right now? I am very excited to see the work of architects such as Herzog and de Meuron, Bjarke Ingels, Kengo Kuma and Ole Scheeren come to life in Vancouver.

Has anything changed about the work you do since you’ve won? Evoke has grown to a studio of 17 designers. We take a very collaborative approach, where the best idea wins.

What’s inspiring you now? We have had the great fortune to work with Studio MK27 on a project in Whistler. Their work is a highly rigorous modernism that continues to inspire our own work.

What’s your proudest design moment? It’s still just the everyday experience of working with all the designers in our studio on an ever-growing list of creative client projects.



Danielle Wilmore, Pyrrha
FASHION AND JEWELLERY 2010

Who are you most excited about right now? In less than a year we’ll be breaking ground on our new studio for Pyrrha: a 9,000-square-foot space that will be dedicated solely to our design and manufacturing process. We’re thrilled to be working with our good friend Omer Arbel of Bocci Design on the project.

Has anything changed about the work you do since you’ve won? Since we won, we’ve become a B Corporation, and recently we upped the ante and became certified carbon neutral. For many years we have been casting with reclaimed metals, but we wanted to do more and be more accountable to our customers and to ourselves.

What are you excited to work on in the future? We are designing our new space with the intention of producing product in new categories, like personal accessories and small housewares. Whatever we design, we want to always be able to produce it in Vancouver, and in-house.



Alda Pereira, Alda Pereira Design
INTERIORS 2010

How do you think Western Canadian design has changed over the last 10 years? I think there is still a morphing of a West Coast style—we are seeing the influence of Nordic and Japanese design locally, but we have many furniture/lighting artisan studios that are developing a strong and influential style.

What’s inspiring you now? I am and have always been inspired by natural beauty and natural materials. I am surrounded by that here on the West Coast and continue to explore natural materials in new and different ways.


(Photo: Martin Tessler.)

Kevin Mitchell, Mitchell Design House
ROBERT LEDINGHAM MEMORIAL AWARD 2015

Has your work changed since you’ve won? I won just as I was starting my own company, so everything changed! My style has remained the same, aside from the fact that I’ve embraced white and love it. It’s such a stark contrast from the body of work I did previously. I still gravitate to that Prairie palette and muddy tones, but I’ve definitely started introducing a much lighter hand.

Can you share any memories from your awards night? I was so nervous. I certainly didn’t anticipate meeting so many new people and felt quite overwhelmed! The one regret I had at the Vancouver awards night was not having a speech prepared, so I forced myself to say something in Calgary. I made a joke about how my friend told me to imagine everyone in their underwear and commenting on how there were so many questionable choices that evening. The rest probably sounded like the Charlie Brown schoolteacher.

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