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Design Inspiration at ICFF

My head is spinning with design inspiration from the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in NYC. I love this show as it really gives me a glimpse into the direction of interior design. If I had to pick one word to describe the overlying theme, it would be artisanal as so many pieces had a handmade feel or look to them.


This desk by Stilvoll is a work of art. Comprised of 400 pieces, it converts from a standing work table, with a built in easel, to a standard height desk by adjusting the number of blocks in the legs. A wonderful example of form and function.IMG_3798resizeWorkstead produces gorgeous lighting and furniture. I salivated over the entire vignette of  leather chair, ottoman, table and brass lamp.IMG_3807resize

Just look at the detail and workmanship in the doors of the credenza by Ethan Abramson. Live edge is still very current on wood pieces of furniture.



This handblown glass from Toronto glass artist Jeff Goodman was gorgeous. It had a matte finish and beautiful colours. I especially liked the special process they use to produce the white glass with the textured appearance. This process also makes the glass very durable.IMG_3791resize More handblown glass, this time by Buoyant. The cluster of seeded clear glass creates a stunning chandelier. I would love one of the table lamps for soft ambient lighting.IMG_3775resize

Shakúlt creates glass that looks like it was spun out of honey. The texture of the globes throw beautiful shadows when lit. Super dramatic when the globes are clustered.IMG_3829resize


Bathrooms were not exempt from the artisan trend. Concrete is a terrific material to create organic forms. Lowinfo did just that with this series of concrete hand washed basins.IMG_3773resize This line of bathroom fixtures by Cielo has a beautiful matte finish and unique colours making them look like they were made in the pottery studio.IMG_3774resize Victoria + Albert designed this freestanding vanity and sink with a blend of matte and glossy finishes. Note the biscuit colour making a comeback.IMG_3794resizeThese plumbing fixtures by Rubinet have also been designed to have a handmade feel. Some look like they were put together from copper piping!IMG_3828resize


This was just a fraction of what I saw at ICFF. Many new ideas will percolate out of what I absorbed and will be reflected in my future designs. I hope you enjoyed my tour!


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Quartz, Quartzite, Granite or Marble as Countertop Options

There are a lot of choices, and a lot of confusion, about quartz, quartzite, granite and marble as countertop options. Today I had the opportunity to attend a session hosted by Cambria, Urban Quarry and Interstone discussing the pros and cons of different solid surface choices for countertops, walls, and even floors. Here are a few new things I learnt.

  1. Quartz, which is 93% natural stone and 7% resin, has come a long way from its original very small, uniform patterns. There are some choices that now come close to mimicking real stone, but, in my opinion do still not have the same depth and character of the real thing. However, there are advantages that you need to consider as countertop options that may make up for the look, such as being less porous, having less maintenance and often being harder than natural stone. IMG_2607resize
  2. Technology has made production so much more accurate and efficient. Computer programs can now show a client how exactly the pieces will be laid out on the slab before it is cut. This ensures the client is happy with how the pattern lines up and what pieces of the stone they wish to highlight. Laser saws with water jets and diamond tipped blades can cut out holes for sinks and faucets in a fraction of the time. Computers can even program machinery to accurately cut the slab.IMG_2608resize
  3. Quartzite is a beautiful natural product and comes in an array of colours. Some, like Calacutta Quartzite can give the look of marble, but are much more durable and less porous as countertop options.IMG_2613resize
  4. Honed and textured finishes are becoming much more popular. Removing the polished surface defines honed, while giving the surface both a dull finish and some texture is known as antiquing or leathering. The same slab of stone can look quite different with a change in finish. Cambria, a leading maker of quartz, is now working on offering different finishes to their product line.IMG_2616resize

There are many countertop options to consider and it can be confusing. One thing though is for certain. I always insist my clients view the exact slab(s) that they are buying so there are no surprises after installation. Choosing from a 4″sample does not portray the movement and colours in an actual slab, and slabs themselves can also vary greatly. This is an investment and I want you to love your selection!


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Marimekko Up Close


A few years ago I had the opportunity to visit the Marimekko flagship store in Helsinki, Finland. I thought, since this is the 50th anniversary of Maremekkos’ iconic flower pattern Unikko, that it would be a great time to share some thoughts on this fabulous designer.


Founded in 1949, by Armi Ratia, Marimekko was defined as “a cultural phenomenon guiding the quality of living”. However, the company really got off the ground in 1951 with its first fashion show. It created such a sensation that clothing was literally sold off the models backs. In 1960, Jackie Kennedy cemented Marimekko’s place in history with the purchase of seven dresses that she wore throughout the presidential campaign. In the 1990′s, the TV show Sex and the City caused a resurgence in popularity when Carrie wore a bikini in a Marimekko print and later one of their print dresses. Marimekko is characterized by simple, bold, colourful prints. Although Armi disliked florals and forbid them in her fabrics, one of the designers ignored her and created the iconic print Unikko, shown below on fabric and tea accessories.


With the popularity of bright colours this year, in both fashion and decor, Marimekko is still right on trend. They were mixing reds and pinks, blues and greens long before we ever thought it was ok! A little bit of Marimekko print goes a long way. Cushions, napkins, tablecloths, shower curtains and tableware are some of their most popular items. Below are some prints from the new Fall 2014 line.

marimekko fall

I really like the idea of stretching a piece of their bold printed fabric over a wooden frame for instant artwork and a pop of colour. Both EQ3 and Crate and Barrel stock Marimekko products, while Vancouver has the only Marimekko store in Canada.


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