Interior designer Andrea Rodman finds the artistry in the process.

Andrea Rodman wants to know how many shoes you own.

You might expect an interior designer to be more interested in your favourite shades of blue or where you land on the modern-to-traditional spectrum, but for this year’s winner of the Robert Ledingham Memorial Award for an emerging interior designer, great design starts with lifestyle, not just “style” style.

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“Functionality is extremely important to us, so we want to make sure we know all the quirks and requirements that come with each family,” says Rodman, sitting comfortably at a marble-topped table in the Vancouver office she shares with fellow interior designers Shift Designs and Gaile Guevara. “We want to know every little thing so we can maximize their lifestyle and use every square inch in a positive way.” Her team of three starts every project with extensive interviews and research, a process that delves into the day-to-day nitty-gritty with extensive surveys asking everything from “How many dinner guests at your dream dinner party?” to “How many pairs of pants do you have?”

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Luckily for her clients, the maximum functionality Rodman strives for comes with a liberal dose of beauty. “I really want to create a harmony,” she explains. “I want to create elements that pull continuously from each other.” Her spaces are airy and light, with thoughtful details layered in that keep them hovering somewhere in between contemporary and homey—a coffered ceiling, laser-cut walnut screens, pleasingly textured bathroom tiles. Rodman spent her early 20s in Australia (her mother is an Aussie), and the cozy-casual modernism of Down Under designers certainly works its way into her projects. “I love their aesthetic and the mix of modern and traditional design,” she explains, though Scandinavian and European design are inspirations, too, popping up frequently on the mood boards Rodman—a self-professed Pinterestophile—builds for clients.

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For a kitchen renovation in a home near Victoria, Rodman gutted the room and replaced it with clean and simple integrated cabinets that blend into the background—ideal for a couple that loves to cook and entertain; glam gold Gubi pendant lights, a marble backsplash and camel-coloured bar stools add warmth and sophistication to the hyper-functional space.

A family home in North Vancouver has a Scandinavian-modern vibe thanks to a soothing neutral palette, but its open-concept ground floor isn’t designed just with trends in mind: it’s intended to gather everyone together at the end of the day.

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There’s a cohesiveness and through-line to each project that captivated our judging panel. “Andrea shows restraint with a clean and simple execution of her design details in spaces featuring a warm and modern palette,” commented DOTY judge Alessandro Munge, principal for Studio Munge. “The story of the interiors really held together nicely.” 

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The heavy research component of her work may not be what drew Rodman to the job in the first place—she stepped into the industry after a stint in the fashion world, on the hunt for a way to turn her artistic inklings into a career—but 10 years after opening her eponymous firm, she’s confident that this strong foundation is what allows her to do her best work. “I feel like in the last few years, I’ve honed in on how to max out my creativity and process and self-expression,” she explains. “Process is what creates beautiful work. Putting in time, that’s how we get results that we love. We can’t rush creativity, and we don’t want to.”   

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2018 Designers of the Year ▸▸▸