Designers of the Year 2013: Ones to Watch
Seven up-and-comers set to change the face of Canadian design.
For Shane Rennie, principal of Rectangle Design, small is big. His firm tackles empty lots, rooming houses née single-family homes, shoddy renos—most projects with a focus on Calgary’s inner-city neighbourhoods. But the key to his designs, Rennie says, is a well-thought-out floor plan. There are no “fluff rooms”: every square inch is important. By reducing the number of walls, divisions are blurred between living room and dining room, kitchen and family room; each space can have multiple uses. Judge Bruce Haden admired how Rectangle takes on both design and construction, and “creates an intermediate step between the dullness of too much stock, off-the-shelf housing and the often-exorbitant full-on custom design.”— Brianna Cerkiewicz
AMANDA HAMILTON INTERIOR DESIGN
“Sometimes I think that interior designers are merely facilitators for seeing our clients’ projects come to fruition—a medium to express themselves,” says Calgary designer Amanda Hamilton. That may be overly modest: though Hamilton credits her best design ideas to stepping back and letting the client guide the creative process, there’s evidence of her fresh, feminine touch in each of her projects. Her recent work on the Aspen Estates Residence, an upscale residential property, showcases her work best. Hamilton worked with the clients to create a stylish home for a family of four that would reflect each of their personalities, blending neutral tones and contemporary architecture with signature pops of yellow—design that masters the fine balance between standing out, and standing the test of time. —Veronika Bondarenko
ONE SEED ARCHITECTURE AND INTERIOR
One SEED‘s design philosophy is embodied in its name: Sustainable, Evocative, Efficient and Distinct. And there’s no better illustration of those pillars than their Ridiculously Small (eco-) Footprint Laneway House prototype: its indoor “ocean” is a wall covered in water-filled wine bottles that store and release heat, similar to the way the ocean moderates the climate on the West Coast. Judge Thomas Mueller admired the concept for its freshness, and added that the execution of One SEED’s projects “shows sensitivity to West Coast environmental sensibility and style.” Whether it’s installing low-maintenance recycled content siding, a rainwater retention pond or a green roof, all of One SEED’s design decisions evoke the eco-spirit of the West. B.C.
“I never really have a set idea in my mind of what I want to create,” says Duncan, B.C.-based fashion designer Eliza Faulkner. “I just start to play and see what comes up.” Faulkner’s eclectic approach is well reflected in her latest collection, designs that combine sporty fabrics like power mesh with soft, feminine touches that echo the casually fashionable vibe of the West Coast. “Faulkner’s Sports Fan collection [pictured here] is right on trend,” says judge Rebecca Philps, senior editor ofVancouver magazine. “I love the use of colour blocking and flattering crops and cutaways.” We were equally impressed by Faulkner’s Azteca dress, with its smart collar inspired by the bright colours and triangular designs of Navajo Art. That versatility and subtle elegance wowed our fashion judges, states Philps, “She hits all the right notes for modern West Coast women.”—V.B.
STICKS AND STONES FURNITURE
Since launching Sticks and Stones in Squamish, B.C., in 2010, founders Yves St. Hilaire and Roland Benesocky have been blending wood and concrete to create pieces that are at once functional, durable and beautiful. “When both mediums are used skilfully you see that they have a perfect marriage,” says St. Hilaire, who also believes that the versatility and sturdiness of these two elements will go a long way toward creating furniture that can be passed down from generation to generation. Judge Raymond Arenson, vice president of merchandising and design at Crate and Barrel, commented that the company’s “use of concrete and wood produces a warm and clean aesthetic that echoes the natural beauty of Western Canada,” and praised Sticks and Stones for being “masters in their use of their signature materials.”—V.B.
In Jordan Tomnuk‘s hands, a simple light becomes a visual statement piece, and a standard rolling pin celebrates the beauty of minimalism. Take the LAP chandelier—a looping, star-like lamp of nesting arcs—that the Edmonton-based designer (a recent grad of the U of A industrial program) designed as an exploration of form, mathematics and geometry; it’s one example of his goal to “change the linear” with his projects and products. Judge Paul Rowan, commended Tomnuk’s refined sense of style: “Craftsmanship drives his design. He has a very close relationship with the materials he uses.”—V.B.
Given his degrees in both architecture and landscape architecture, it’s perhaps not surprising that James Tuer of JWT Architecture would pay as much attention to the surrounding landscape as to the house atop it. But it’s his commitment to sustainability that caught the attention of our judges: for one project in urban Vancouver, Tuer favoured native plants like black-eyed Susans, water-smart perennials and ornamental grasses. The water-smart plantings evoke West Coast wilderness in the midst of the city, and thrive in Vancouver’s dry summers. A rainwater harvesting system on the same building initially posed some hiccups—namely, a bylaw that discouraged rainwater harvesting—but Tuer successfully lobbied for a rewrite. Judge Alan Tate commended Tuer’s restraint and respect for sites, and said that Tuer “unites buildings and landscape with the utmost skill.”—B.C.