Emerging designers and up-and-coming innovators who have us on the edge of our seats.

ONE TO WATCH: ARCHITECTURERUF Project one to watch western livingWhile planning a First Nations-inspired reconstruction of a Gulf Islands home in 2011, Sean Pearson, founder of the Vancouver-based Rural / Urban / Fantasy / Project, built directly on the foundation of the house’s predecessor to minimize the impact on the earth. It’s that combination of innovation grounded in conscientiousness that unites RUF’s many multidisciplinary projects. From building to landscape to branding, Pearson’s work is thoughtfully, tastefully done: for the award-winning Football Training Centre in Soweto, South Africa, Pearson used locally sourced timber and hired a local artist to design the stadium’s requisite security fence, marrying practicality and sustainability without sacrificing aesthetics. Judges Marcia and Lloyd Secter were quick to praise these “well-executed and consistent” endeavours. Although RUF has worked on projects tied to every corner of the globe, Pearson, a native of Winnipeg, aims to maintain a distinctly Canadian approach to his craft. We can’t wait to see what’s next.—Katie CoopersmithONE TO WATCH: INTERIOR DESIGNAtmosphere Interior Designone to watch western livingTailoring a single home to suit the tastes of 35,000 potential owners is no easy task, but Atmosphere Interior Design’s Trevor Ciona and Curtis Elmy aren’t taking it easy. In 2010, they signed on to stage three lottery show homes for charity, and their bold choices—incorporating materials like zebra wood, custom metals and metallic fabrics—turned the duo into a tour de force in Saskatoon, where they’ve given major face-lifts to some of their city’s oldest residences. Since establishing their firm in 2004, they’ve consistently challenged Saskatoon’s conservative design barriers, displaying what judge Paul Lavoie calls “a confidence that is truly Western” in their experiments with geometric patterns, unconventional colours and nature-inspired forms. Christened “Saskatoon’s Kings of Style” in Style at Home, Atmosphere has “filled a niche in a tough market,” says Lavoie. “I want to be invited to some of these places for dinner!”—Katie CoopersmithONE TO WATCH: ECO DESIGNJWT Architecture and Planningone to watch western livingJWT Architecture and Planning’s award-winning Pearson House is a beacon for eco-friendly architecture: the earth is a natural insulator, large windows provide solar heating and light, concrete cools the home and rainwater is recycled from the roof. It’s impressive, but not unusual for JWT principal James W. Tuer—the Bowen Island resident always aims to build homes that work in harmony with the earth. Next up: a “hyper-green” residence for a client with allergies to many traditional building products—low VOC materials will be used, with little exposed wood and concrete. It’s a big task, but judge Thomas Mueller praised Tuer for his “seamless transitions between homes and natural environment,” so we know he’s up to the challenge.—Colleen McDonaldONE TO WATCH: FASHIONManitobah Mukluksone to watch western livingWinnipeg designer Sean McCormick may be the brains behind the Canadian-manufactured, Aboriginal-owned Manitobah Mukluks, but these boots—an urban take on the classic slippers, crafted from all natural materials—are a community effort. Manitobah has joined forces with the Centre for Aboriginal Human Resource Development to provide a bursary for Aboriginal people to further their education, partnered with footwear icon Louie Gong for a special swooping eagle edition to celebrate the strength and leadership of women, and worked with Vibram, the world leader in high-performance rubber soles.Now 15 years old, Manitobah continues to put an extra spring in the step of every pair—the sole of each shoe is marked with an image of a turtle or tipi.—Colleen McDonaldONE TO WATCH: INDUSTRIAL DESIGNone to watch western livingPalette IndustriesIt’s design with a message—sometimes literally (on the Dharma Two chair, which Palette Industries created for the Alberta Cancer Foundation, a laser-cut form spells out “minds for a cancer free future”), sometimes more figuratively (the Nanton coat rack, intended to “reinterpret and reclaim public irritants,” is inspired by the transmission towers that line so many Canadian highways). The Calgary-based design trio—Ian Campana, Samuel Ho and Nathan Tremblay, who founded the firm in 2005—make smart design an art form. Like the Pizzico espresso cups, a classic design updated with intuitive improvements such as lip indentations and an ergonomic grip. “The team works well together,” commented judge Geoff Lilge, “with energy to spare.”—Katie CoopersmithONE TO WATCH: FURNITURE DESIGNCory Barkmanone to watch western livingWhile searching for an affordable way to make prototypes for furniture designs, Calgary artist Cory Barkman took to experimenting with recycled and forgotten objects. The found materials quickly became his medium of choice for creating industrial-inspired, eco-friendly works that straddle the line between art and function.Part steampunk-chic, part upcycled statement pieces, his work is always striking. Take his Industrial Revolution table: built from recycled springs and wood from a 90-year-old barn in Red Deer, it’s now been paired with new casters that have been stripped, aged and modified.Judge Ross Bonetti, credited the designer for problem solving with a “remarkably low carbon footprint.”Judge Cobi Ladner summed up Barkman’s work best: “Beautiful, in a crazy way.”We couldn’t agree more.—Colleen McDonaldONE TO WATCH: LANDSCAPE DESIGNStraub Thurmayrone to watch western livingBreathing room is often hard to find in a city, but Dietmar Straub and Anna Thurmayr, principals of Winnipeg landscape design firm Straub Thurmayr, are experts in creating it. When they’re not teaching classes at the University of Manitoba, the two urban designers specialize in transforming small, frustrating spaces into mini retreats; their “Snow White and the Seven Gardens” project, for example, is a series of minuscule gardens built along the front of a residential building, each one created to represent a different story. They’re passionate about infusing the seemingly worthless with worth, studying the dialogue between city and landscape and holding fast to Straub’s notion that “how you treat a garden is a model for how you treat the world.” —Katie Coopersmith