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One to Watch: Fashion

Parts and Labor

In 2017, yoga instructor and interior designer Jennifer Mehalko began her own personal healing process—it started, she says, with “leaving behind something I thought was going to define who I was in my career, for something completely different.” And thus began Parts and Labor, her quirky clothing label. That journey brought to life a brand that cultivates all of her fiery obsessions—empowerment, self-expression, courage, intention—into small-run collections where bold messages pair with juxtaposed materials and unusual silhouettes: a vintage army jacket with the words “Army of Lovers” emblazoned on its back, for example. The parts are the tangible things we use to tell our style stories and how we express ourselves, she says; the labour is the hard work and the sweat she puts into it. Or, as Mehalko would say, “the heart-work.”— Chloe Finn

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One to Watch: Landscape Design

Acacia Landscape

Acacia founder Stephen McLeish may have started a gardening company when he was 16, but that doesn’t mean he always knew he’d one day design landscapes, too. That company was just a side gig to fund his schooling as an economist, and then as an engineer. But while working as an engineering works inspector with the District of North Vancouver, McLeish was introduced to the profession of landscape architecture: “I didn’t even know it existed at the time,” he recalls. Acacia was officially founded in 2001, and the company made a name for itself designing creative outdoor rooms and gardens, culminating with the design and installation of one of only two purpose-built natural swimming pools in Canada: the quiet freshwater pond on a private acreage is situated less than 10 minutes from Victoria’s urban core. Fed and filtered through the careful selection of water plants and layers of gravel (there’s no added chlorine or chemicals), the pond naturally matures: unlike a typical swimming pool, there’s little maintenance in this beauty.— Chloe Finn

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One to Watch: Industrial Design

Nikki Alagha Design

Nikki Alagha was encouraged to pursue the arts from a young age—though her path was not always direct. In high school, as Alagha dove into woodworking courses, she quickly discovered that industrial design was her calling—and, since 2018, she’s been operating her own design practice out of a studio in the heart of Vancouver’s Chinatown neighbourhood. One of Alagha’s first pieces, the Sii light, began as an experiment with materials, its balance of smooth, 3D-printed ceramics paired with hand-casted, textured silicone balancing both the machine- and handmade. Nearly a year in the making, the piece was accepted into 2019’s WantedDesign Launch Pad during New York City’s Design Week. “That moment was a huge burst of encouragement for me to continue,” says Alagha. Her design inspiration, she says, is human experience. “I love to be able to create an emotional response. When you can engage with a piece both mentally and physically, you’re more likely to use the piece and appreciate it for years to come.”— Chloe Finn

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One to Watch: Furniture Design

Henry Sun

Like many designers, Henry Sun focuses on material and function with his products. Unlike many furniture designers, his creations are now flat-packed—so before they can settle into their custom lounge chair, his clients have to roll up their sleeves and assemble it themselves. Sun knows that self-assembled furniture has a bad rap in the design world. “I’m exploring people’s conception of something that is flat-packed, and how can that be altered,” he says. The designer’s newest line of seating arrangements—made of solid wood, with exposed hardware—earned him a spot in the 2020 Stockholm Furniture Fair, where he was the only Canadian exhibitor. “My designs are very simple and honest,” says Sun, “and that allows clients to celebrate the fact that they assembled it themselves.”— Alyssa Hirose