Regular readers of WL will likely already be familiar with Measured’s architecture—in fact, their playful home with a pixelated shingle treatment on its exterior was featured on the cover of our March 2020 issue. The homes are thoughtful extensions of the firm’s collaborative methodology: the architects, the homeowners and the many artisans whose work is part of the design—they’re all involved in the creative process.
And so it’s likely no surprise that the interior design of their homes is as much a part of the final work as the architecture itself. “As much as our emphasis has been to break down the barriers between the disciplines,” says architect and Measured co-principal Clinton Cuddington, “we also want to make projects that do not have strong divisions between the architecture, the landscape and the interior design.”
Measured Architecture's Piers Cunnington (left) and Clinton Cuddington
In fact, this year’s win as our 2020 Interior Designers of the Year is their third victory in our awards program since we launched back in 2008—though those first two (in our launch year, and again in 2015) were solidly in the Architecture category. But their work has always seamlessly integrated architecture, interiors and landscape, and perhaps the interior design acknowledgement is long overdue. “Fundamentally we believe that to achieve an outstanding project, the project can’t be what any one person would have imagined at the outset,” says architect and co-principal Piers Cunnington. (Not for the first time, we need to acknowledge that their similar last names will no doubt cause mild confusion throughout this article—they’re used to that.) “It’s the process of navigating the needs of the client, the municipality, the site, the feedback from consultants and many, many design charrettes. We’re always saying, ok, let’s find out where this process is going to take us, so that we’re building something that is unique to the clients and unique to the site.”
Sometimes that process is more obvious—helping the client feel more comfortable talking about what’s important to them, drawing out their personal stories so that their home truly reflects what they want. And sometimes it’s having antennae alert to any sense of the homeowners feeling out of their element—something they learned when the owners of the Shift House (said March cover story) toured a lighting store that turned out to be off-narrative with the project’s goals. “They went to a space that they immediately found intimidating,” says Cuddington. “We stopped the conversation and said, well, what does that mean? They said they were shopping in what they perceived to be an environment they wouldn’t shop in—that they found the process a bit soulless.”
For the Shift House, coarse materials such as rotary-cut plywood and nail-laminated timber pair with hand-finished tile and artisan lighting from ceramicist Heather Braun-Dahl.
Cuddington got them thinking about working with an artist instead: “Get the art off the walls and into the DNA of the building.” The couple expressed admiration for ceramic artist Heather Braun-Dahl of Dahlhaus—and so began the process of bringing another collaborator on board.
“Every project will have those moments where we activate the introduction of an artisan, and we’re looking for those,” says Cuddington. “They’re not everywhere, but where are those moments of flourish?” In their Combo House, the homeowner wanted a space inspired by her favourite blazer—impeccably cut and tailored on the exterior, a riot of colour inside. That’s seen in the careful selection of brightly coloured furnishings, but also in the graphic introduction of tiles from Popham Design, a Morocco-based company that brings traditional Marrakesh techniques to a modern palette. Throughout the home, eight different types of tile line walls, fireplaces and floors—in patterns so carefully executed they required a four-inch binder to track.
The Combo House features tilework from Popham Design Co., as seen in the kitchen here—the detailed patterns for which were carefully tracked in a four-inch binder.
In the Combo House, the homeowners moved from 4,200 square feet to 2,800 square feet, so a central part of the design was storage—including the 11-foot-high cabinets disguised here in the entryway.
Colourful tiles throughout the home set up a space that’s ripe for playful details, like the Zettl’z chandelier from Ingo Maurer. Typically decked out with little notes on Japanese paper, it’s instead dotted with colourful origami cranes over the main entryway.
The home itself is beautifully integrated between indoors and out, with 27 feet of glazing on the back wall of the living space opening into the garden. The furniture is practically floral in its colour selection, too. The custom sofa from Bombast Interiors is covered in an Irish wool the client selected in a turquoise plaid—a choice that was not only a pivot point for many of the other pieces in the room, but is also indicative of the kind of design-making decisions the team will support from their clients. “We’re working to really facilitate the level of dive that a client wants to take into a problem set,” says Cuddington, “to explore textiles because she’s hell-bent on textiles. That may be a departure from the traditions of interior design, where an interior designer would bring and lay down what they feel are appropriate fabrics—but we’re not worried about that. What we’re worried about is being able to put the tools on the table, to ensure that it balances and harmonizes with the other pieces designed for the space.”
And so said fabric decision spawned a pair of similarly toned Facett armchairs from Ligne Roset. A contrasting pop of red hangs overhead with the Beam light from Zero, with an elegantly mid-century-influenced pattern of those Popham tiles on the nearby fireplace. It’s the kind of combination that had judge Michelle Biggar of the Office of McFarlane Biggar Architects and Designers comment, “Their interiors have a timeless element while still being playful and unique. Their confidence with materials and palettes is refreshing.”
Facett chairs from Ligne Roset pair with a custom sofa in a plaid fabric the homeowners selected.
Throughout all of their projects, given how careful the material selection is, it’s perhaps no surprise that sustainable choices are a dominant part of the consideration. Cradle-to-cradle materials like Forbo linoleum, which has a buyback program at the end of its already-durable lifespan, and the use of local suppliers reduce the carbon footprint of each choice. Cuddington draws on his experience working for architect Bing Thom earlier in his career, and the checklist he used to assess any given material: what it’s made of, its off-gassing properties, what happens in a fire, its life expectancy. It’s something that the pair takes into consideration as they specify every material on a project. “Every project we do is a small industry,” says Cuddington. “So if we can create opportunities for local fabricators, I think that’s an incredible victory.”
The firm’s body of work ranges in both budget and scope—from a long-burning project in Vancouver’s Shaughnessy neighbourhood that’s essentially a poster child for how to retain an existing home while threading a modern design plan throughout it, to a renovation of a 1950s split-level that plays with everyday materials such as construction-grade plywood, white paint and the odd Ikea hack. “Measured’s work feels hyper original, and perfectly tailored to the owners’ way of living,” notes judge David Nicolay, interior designer and principal at Evoke International Design.
And it’s the storytelling and the perfect tailoring to each homeowner that attracts the team to tackling both the interiors and the exteriors of the projects they work on. “The adornment of one’s interior, that’s often where people’s most personal possessions reside,” says Cuddington. “And we’ve been working to try to pull those stories out of people, to find ways to curate their spaces—more importantly, to allow for their spaces to continue to be their homes.”
In the renovation of this 1950s split-level, the client loved the idea of taking a more low-brow material like plywood, and elevating it into millwork, used in the cabinetry.
The slat walls in the entry, were taken from walls removed in the home—old growth fir that the team at Measured wanted to preserve.