Designers of the Year Photo Credit:

Designers of the Year 2014: Ones to Watch

Meet these six rising design stars from across the West.

Photo by John Sinal.
Photo by John Sinal.


For Javier Campos and Michael Leckie, the two principals of Vancouver-based Campos Leckie Studio, a building site isn’t just a physical location, it’s a series of relationships. A home’s minimalist collection of white walls, concrete and glass echoes the vastness of the natural surroundings and the extreme weather conditions of Mexico’s Los Zacatitos community (judge Patricia Patkau calls the project “poetic”); a public art installation at the Richmond Olympic Oval makes the most of the view from the water’s edge by laying wood-panelled surfaces and metal subframes into waterfront viewing platforms. Since opening in 2009, Campos Leckie Studio has approached its work with exploration, collaboration and synthesis in mind. “We don’t know where we will end up when we start,” says Campos. “We just engage with an open mind and let the project emerge.”—Taylor Lecky

Photo by Janis Nicolay.


“West Coast perfection,” says judge Paul Lavoie of the work of Vancouver-based Marrimor. Duo Tanja Hinder (BCIT Interior Design graduate and 2011 winner of our Furniture Designer of the Year award as part of MTH Woodworks) and Carrie McCarthy (designer, magazine stylist and co-author of Style Statement) mix graceful minimalism with natural accents to create simple, sophisticated spaces—call it driftwood modern—replete with organic materials like concrete and wood and plentiful natural light. A young family tapped Marrimor for help building their dream holiday home, and our judges were wowed by the result: a home that honoured the Gulf Island-locale with detailed stonework, gorgeous wood accents and an abundance of modern, rustic flair. “We consider living on the West Coast a privilege,” says the duo. “We’re inspired daily by the flavour of our seasons, local, pure materials and impressive talent.”—T.L.

Fat Crow Design


Growing up on a farm in northern Alberta, Tyler Vreeling learned the value of “making things work with what you’ve got.” It’s a lesson that’s stuck with him over the years, burrowing itself into the philosophy of his Edmonton firm, Fat Crow Design, where he strives to create stylish and environmentally conscious furniture by upcycling—elevating old or scrap items into new designs—and using long-lasting, renewable materials. Pieces like his set of three ATB tables (left) demonstrate an appreciation for the environ-ment both in their design—the tables are made to resemble the mountains, hoodoos, and plains—and in the materials, which include pressed hemp panelling. Evoking the spirit of the Prairies, Vreeling is realizing his goal to make pieces that are “positive, long-lasting and that somehow remind us of our relationship with the environment.”—Alana Willerton

Poppy Barley Western Living


The Edmonton-based custom footwear company Poppy Barley is led by co-founders and sisters Justine and Kendall Barber and inspired by the former’s first experience with made-to-measure boots on a trip to Bali. They’ve now brought the bespoke tradition to the West—a Poppy Barley boot melds the idea of the perfect fit with chic, handmade craftsmanship: four foot and leg measurements are taken before a boot order is sent off. Judge Beverley Gorenstein praised their designs as being “sophisticated with good, clean style.” —A.W.

Jeff Martin Joinery Western Living


“I want to build work that has a familiar vernacular with our culture,” says furniture designer Jeff Martin. He takes his cues from diverse groups—Shakers, pioneers, modernists—and constructs pieces that nod to the past while looking to the future of design. After an apprenticeship in Brooklyn under Palo Samko, the Vancouver-based designer developed a passion for rich, classic materials—think leather, brass, cast bronze, ceramics and domestic hardwoods. Inspired by Seattle-based conceptual artist, designer and architect Roy McMakin, Martin creates “patchwork pieces,” where furniture is treated like a canvas in that it is “painted” with assorted scraps. It’s beautiful work, which judge Geoffrey Lilge commended for Martin’s “impeccable attention to detail” and “admirable approach to creating heirloom furniture.”—T.L.

Concrete Cat Edmonton


“The three most common building materials in cities are steel, glass and concrete,” says Matt Heide, founder of Edmonton design company Concrete Cat. The three-person team loves the last of those and hand-casts the material into everything from sleek kitchen countertops to their Beau baseball-bat sculptures and minimalist Vesta vases, most of which are tinted by mixing integral mineral pigments into the cement. It all impressed Paolo Cravedi of Alessi, who praised their “innovative use of an unexpected material.”—A.W.


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