Western Living Magazine
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Keep these talented Western Canadian designers on your radar.
When Finland-born jewellery designer Ellinor Stenroos spotted an opening for a goldsmith job in Calgary in 2005, she figured it was kismet: she’d always dreamed of moving to Canada. There was one small catch, however: “I wasn’t entirely sure where Calgary was,” she says with a laugh.
Stenroos may have moved across the world, but her Scandinavian roots are very present in her work. “I would say that Finland is barren in many ways—there aren’t a lot of bells and whistles,” she says. “I grew up somewhere that is very practical—when you purchase something, it is designed to last forever.”
Her Reclaim ring, for example, was created for a woman who wanted a new way to house her old engagement diamonds after her marriage ended. In the design, colourful stones that pay homage to the client’s daughter are paired with dual metals and diamonds of different sizes—it’s a playful piece with an entirely new identity. “This is my optimal ‘women of the world, raise your right hand’ empowerment piece because of the symbolism,” says Stenroos.
Judge Karen Konzuk, founder of Konzuk, celebrated the timelessness of Stenroos’s designs. “It’s very wearable and designed to last a lifetime, with beautiful craftsmanship and attention to detail,” she noted.
And perhaps that timelessness can be credited to the way Stenroos embraces simplicity in her work. “As much as decadence is wonderful, I really love less is more,” she says.
There’s a holistic, restorative quality to the work of our 2022 One to Watch in Landscape Design. Into each design, Danée Marie Lambourne of Victoria-based Eden Projects delivers bespoke elements that are intended to engage the senses—helping to guide a visitor through the space or creating opportunities for pause.
Her work has a focus on regenerative land use, along with pollinator and habitat gardens. Paired with that focus is a love of what’s known as new perennialism—a philosophy that celebrates natural gardening, balancing the wild with a more controlled design. The latter shows itself in both the hardscaping and the plant selections, such as the flagstone walking paths adorned with mosaic veins of local precious stone that are softened with intermittent ground cover.
In another project, the Eden team executed a plant-driven design that celebrates the famed Chelsea Garden Show—a sensory garden that attracts bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. It’s an immediate classic—and lovely space that’s made for spending quality time in.
The word “industrial” often brings to mind a moody, utilitarian aesthetic—blackened steel, grainy wood, exposed hardware. But our One to Watch in Industrial Design has a much softer, dreamier vibe. “When you’re designing objects that are used in the home, it’s very important to think about what the body needs to be supported,” says Celina Dalrymple of Ffabb Home. She and business partner Najeeb Dawary founded the company in 2018 after working alongside each other in the upholstery industry for over a decade.
Ffabb’s sumptuous sofas, daybeds and wall panels are manufactured in North Vancouver using CNC and laser technology (that’s where the industrial element comes in), which puts them at a more accessible price point than other luxury furnishings. “It was Najeeb’s idea to start building things in a simpler way, and streamline the process,” says Dalrymple.
That efficiency doesn’t sacrifice style—judge Wiebke Braasch, designer at Ikea of Sweden, said Ffabb’s Hansem wall panels “create a great atmosphere and personal touch to a room,” adding that they have “a customized look even though they come in standard sizes.”
It’s not the average furniture maker who starts their business at the age of eight, but Romney Shipway of Vancouver-based Shipway Living Design isn’t average. As a kid growing up on Cortes Island in B.C.’s remote Desolation Sound, our 2022 One to Watch in Furniture Design was commissioned to turn a pile of food jar lids on his lathe for the local grocery store.
His latest work is, of course, leagues more sophisticated—but those roots on Cortes run deep, and an intrinsic respect for sustainability, natural materials and a light environmental footprint continues to steer his practice. Each piece is designed without excess ornamentation or unnecessary materials, from a custom entry bench (both airy in appearance and sturdy enough to seat two) to an ash dining table designed without the need for central support.
His wood is sustainably sourced, the finishes are non-toxic—and, most importantly, the work is elegantly designed, exploring a mash-up of periods from art deco to mid-century modern.
Former fashion designer Marion Selma Gamba doesn’t consider herself a ceramicist. “I call myself a designer using clay as a medium,” she notes. Gamba’s beautiful sculptures use organic abstraction to reflect forms found in nature, art and curvilinear architecture. “One thing that is very important to me is the connection between art and design,” Gamba says.
For example, although rooted in the natural world, the Venus bowl is inspired by Picasso’s L’Aubade and mimics the shape of the human body. “The form of the bowl is made of curved lines, like a body shape,” explains Gamba. “Every angle is different. If you put anything inside, it will give this impression of floating above a cloud.”
Judge Bronwyn Gourley, senior event manager for IDS Vancouver and Toronto, praises Gamba’s originality and innovative blend of usability and form. “The mix of sculpture and functional design is wonderful,” she says. “The concepts, colourways and designs are truly unique and refreshing to the West Coast design community.”
And Gamba, it would seem, is just getting started. “I want to learn more and more of all these disciplines: art, design and experimentation,” she says. “I want to explore and push that.”
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