Western Living Magazine
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Box Interior Design created the condo for a travelling client looking for a space with a masculine aesthetic, a spiritual connection and muted restraint.
For decades, people have long sought refuge from the outside world at Vancouver’s iconic Bayshore Hotel. From infamous billionaire Howard Hughes who eluded the paparazzi for half a year while camping out in its penthouse in the 1970s to the generations of tourists who continue to flock here, they all come seeking the same thing: peace and quiet thanks to the hotel’s idyllic seaside setting and proximity to Stanley Park. So when interior designers Cynthia Penner and Jay Brooks of Box Interior Design were asked to create a zen retreat at the Bayshore’s private residences, they knew that while the condo’s view was already primed for the task, the challenge lay with transforming its dated interiors into a serene sanctuary.
Penner and Brooks, who also happen to be married, cut their design teeth mostly in commercial work in Toronto at Ceccone Simone Interior Design and Yabu Pushelberg respectively. Years later, when the pair eventually returned to the west coast they continued the theme of working with the best: Penner worked with Alda Pereira while Brooks joined the team at Robert Ledingham, where he handled most of the firm’s commercial design. When the timing was right, however, they took a leap of faith and opened Box Interior Design together. “That was 2002 and we’re still married!” laughs Penner. “We’ve been blessed to be able to continue so much hospitality work, but our clients have always quietly said in the background, ‘would you help me with my home too?'”
This homeowner, a highly spiritual person, sought a quiet, restorative environment for his personal wellbeing. But not only was he looking for a serene space that allowed him to retreat from the hectic pace of work that saw him travelling six months a year, but also a place that could function as showpiece too. The client envisioned a palette with a masculine aesthetic, a spiritual connection and muted restraint, but one that could also serve as glamorous and luxurious backdrop when entertaining or hosting visiting family.
“It’s not about our vision; It’s about interpreting a dream for somebody else,” says Penner. “I think by sitting back into those things and really listening to people’s words and assessing the language is what It’s all about.” Penner and Brooks sent their client two mood boards to peruse: a moody, smoky masculine path and one with a bit more colour and less restraint. “We tell people that It’s not about specific colours or furniture; It’s more about a feeling when they look at the pictures,” says Penner. The client immediately gravitated to the first board.
Subtle, subdued tones set the stage for the 4000-square-foot space that manages to now feel both warm and intimate yet glorious and grand at the same time. An ultimate haven in a hotel.
Originally published April 2021