Western Living Magazine
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Introducing Western Living’s 2023 Designers of the Year Award Winners
Designers that are on the riseand no doubt, future stars of the Designers of the Year Awards.
Tafui’s digitally printed textiles are designed to tell stories.
Tafui McLean was just 10 years old when she realized art was her calling. It was my first week of this new elementary school, she recalls, and I wouldnt stop crying, so the teacher gave me watercolours and told me to paint my feelings. I was hooked.
Her entrepreneurial journey began when she received a commission for her first three paintings from her landlord while at Concordia's design programand has since grown from a passion to a business, with the launch of Tafui Design and Art Studio in 2014.
Her black-and-white, digitally printed textile designs reflect winter scenes, and are inspired by her research into the use of textiles to tell stories. I particularly love Indigenous cultures, she says. The love for the environment, and the repurposing of things that we normally think are just mundane. Judge Akanksha Deo Sharma, designer with Ikea, praised that focus in McLean's work. I love that the designer has a strong sustainability focus, she noted, and talks about the heritage and community in her work.Saphiya Zerrouk
Pigeon Study by Tracey Cameron
Tracey Cameron's unique fabric paintings emanate from a rich personal history with the art of sewing: her mother loved to sew and her grandmother made quilts. Her current body of work focuses on portraits of city birds like pigeons and magpiesthe wildness of nature in the urban environment. I feel most centred when I'm in nature or observing animals, says Calgary-based Cameron, who holds a bachelor's in design from the Alberta University of the Arts. Bringing these pieces into my home helps along that feeling.
The work is rich with colour, simple shapes and deeply layered textiles. Cameron sources her materials from friends odds and ends and from thrift storesshe notes that using recycled textiles is an important part of her work, highlighting the trend of overconsumption and the environmental impact of that excess. And those thrift-store discoveries inspire each new project: her latest, a '70s-era design, will soon transform into a vibrant peacock.Monika Wodzianek
Bebop Shelf by Same Old Studio
Ryan Boechler and Han Huynh had put their previous effortthe critically acclaimed Studio Bup, a 2015 One to Watch in our Industrial Design categoryon an extended hiatus when they moved to Brooklyn six years ago. But the West Coast called them back, and the resulting design break reinvigorated them for a furniture-focused, lighthearted new line as
Same Old Studio (a name chosen, no doubt, fully tongue-in-cheek). In their new form, the duo expresses the same love for material, exploration and fun, along with an appreciation for simple and functional formsa move applauded by judge Jaye Buchbinder of Emeco: The intentionality behind materials chosen and the way those materials were used makes Same Old Studio stand out.
Their Bebop shelf, for example, designed for Vancouver tattoo shop Bebop Ink, has meticulously colour-coded frames meant to visualize each tattoo artist's unique personality and style. Once you start interacting with it, Boechler explains, you notice these playful and unexpected details that make it more special.Lisa Sammoh
Sumatran Reflections scarf by Misheo
I'm very inspired by nature's biodiversity, says Vancouver-based designer Michelle Pang. I feel like the possibilities seem endless, which is why I'm always learning about each new species and their characteristics. That endless learning translated into Misheo, her line of silk scarves featuring elegant hand-illustrated arrangements of natural motifs. Launched in 2016 by the Rhode Island School of Design graduate, Misheo merges art, fashion and Pang's passion for the environment.
Each scarf begins as a pencil and ink drawing of rare wildlife and flora, which is worked and reworked until Pang is satisfied with every detail. She converts the art to a digital format, where she plays with colour to create the harmonious combinations that you'll find in pieces like the Sumatran Reflectionsone of Pang's favourite designswhich depicts a Sumatran tiger, orangutan, elephant and rhino framed by meticulously drawn banana plant leaves. Her focus on at-risk species is more than just the artwork, too: the digital print on the natural fabrics saves water, minimizes waste and reduces the amount of chemicals used. This year, Pang is planting a tree for every scarf sold and donating a percentage of Misheo's net profits to support wildlife conservation. Bridget Stringer-Holden
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