Western Living Magazine
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Keep these talented Western Canadian designers on your radar.
For Jamie Dawes, the designer behind Vancouver-based Fyoocher, sustainability comes first: when she first launched her brand in 2020, her mission was to combat fast fashion with mindful, low-waste apparel. Material is key—her style-forward collections use everything from massive rolls of deadstock denim to one-off finds from thrift stores, meaning that many of her creations are one of a kind. Her best-selling item, for example, is her U-top (far left)—it’s made from (in her words) “every material under the sun.” The line is an ongoing project, with Dawes saving fabrics from landfills and transforming them into statement-making sleeveless tops. Judge Lyndon Cormack, managing director of Herschel Supply Co., said that Dawes’s work “demonstrates a forward-thinking perspective that’s essential in our current world.” Experts agree: the Fyoocher is now.
There’s a quiet serenity to Alexander Suvajac’s landscape designs: his gardens and outdoor rooms invite you to stop, sit, stay awhile, with well-planned spaces throughout in which you can do just that. A studio garden for a ceramicist provides both inspiration for the artist owner with its peaceful Japanese-influenced design, and thoughtfully placed linear benches that double as showcases for the artist’s ceramics during seasonal shows. Another space, named Curio, inspires the same delight you’d expect to feel in a shop of the same name, but outdoors: the stroll garden is layered with mature trees and oversized sculptural boulders, while a water feature provides the full-sensory acoustical accompaniment for the moment. It’s careful, crafted design that supports mindfulness for the visitor in a truly Pacific Northwest landscape: the kind of outdoor space you didn’t know you needed until you are within it.
There’s storytelling in each of Daly Co’s designs—and at the heart of those stories is founder Patrick Christie’s material of choice: B.C. wood. There’s the welcome desk (above) that’s constructed from six-inch cubes of Western hemlock—representing the collectiveness of the co-working space it’s in, and what happens when people come together to build something new “one brick at a time.” Another project, with artist Rebecca Belmore, was intended to connect Canada’s East Coast with its West through a story of wood—the final “tree” being constructed out of a combination of eastern pine and sitka spruce from Haida Gwaii. Or take the store design for a Victoria-based clothing company that features vertical posts for the clothing racks: each red cedar post was turned into octagons, and made to look as though it is a tree within a forest. Christie is so passionate about bringing designs in B.C. wood to life, in fact, that he is creating a new generation of storytellers through his The Wood Innovation Group (TWIG), which provides aspiring and innovative craftspeople with resources, mentorship and access to tools and technology
One thing is clear: Ko Júbilo knows that truly great design, at its heart, solves a problem. There’s his Nest and Span coffee table, which allows a user ultimate flexibility in meeting their space requirements: interchangeable legs can be re-positioned as needed; horizontal surfaces can be nested when space is at a premium, and then expanded when an after-dinner cocktail hour requires it. Or his Align design (above), which simplifies the construction and deconstruction of a typical bedframe. Made of FSC-certified wood, Align is the antithesis of disposable furniture: it can be easily moved when it’s time to shift to a new apartment, for example, without causing extra wear and tear on the connectors (as certain other flat-pack designs are wont to do). Of course, his ingenious designs aren’t only about function, and Júbilo—who won WL’s Industrial Designer of the Year in 2018—is an artist in wood, glass and even recycled plant-based food packaging, with a portfolio that’s all elegant curves, classic joinery and thoughtful design.
Some creatives find it tricky to pinpoint exactly when a given moment of inspiration struck—but that’s not the case for Quake Studio creative director Lisa Turner. The designs that come out of Vancouver-based Quake are deeply rooted in specific locations and experiences: the bold and jagged Juan de Fuca table, for example (above), is inspired by the fault line of the same name. The Locarno table, with a top made from Vancouver Island marble, is a nod to the seaside stones that make up a PNW shoreline. Turner’s Nested Vessels, meanwhile, were created during COVID, and each is named for a phrase from the diaries and poems she wrote in those uncertain times. “From concept to material selection, these designs highlight such a thoughtful approach to design,” said judge Bronwyn Gourley, director of conference at IDS Vancouver. Fellow judge and maker Dan Lam agreed: “Everything presented is cohesively executed with skill and precision… they could be fine art objects that happen to be functional.”
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READ MORE: Meet the Winners of Western Living’s 2023 Designers of the Year Awards
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