What are the odds that early-1990s Edmonton would birth not one but two acclaimed design collectives that achieved a meteoric rise to international prominence and have seen their work shipped from Alberta’s capital to all corners of the globe? Well, given the incubator that was the U of A’s Department of Art and Design, those odds were pretty high, actually.

pure design
Credit: Bluefish Studios/Western Living September 2003

Pure Designʼs Momo bench was designed by Kyoko Inoda and Nils Sveje in 2002.

pure design
Credit: Bluefish Studios/Western Living September 2003

But that doesn’t account for the energy and ambition that was married to the talent: Pure collaborated with Karim Rashid and former WL editor Douglas Coupland, while Hothouse opened their own downtown retail spot, with the designers selling the CD holders and wine racks that they themselves had created. And thanks to Edmonton’s collaborative arts scene, it was never a Stones/Beatles, Tupac/Biggie situation—both operations supported each other and helped cement the city’s reputation as a creative capital to be reckoned with.

hothouse design
Credit: Western Living October 1996
hothouse design
Credit: Western Living October 1996

Hothouse Designʼs Otter CD holder used a metal ball and gravitational pull to hold CDs in place.

To read about more great people, designs, homes and innovations that shaped Western Living, click here.