Hive Mentality: New Homes for Nature’s Great Pollinators

Elevator B designed by students in Buffalo, New York

A bee hotel designed by students in Buffalo, New York

Every year, the AZ Awards, organized by Canadian design magazine Azure, celebrate cutting-edge architecture and interior design from around the world. The expected all-white buildings and futuristic furniture got nods at the most recent ceremony in downtown Toronto, but the $5,000 top prize was given to something decidedly more unusual: a man-made beehive erected on a derelict industrial site in Buffalo, N.Y.

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Coveted: Peter Pierobon’s Coast Range Bar Console

Peter Pierobon Coast Range side bar

Peter Pierobon Coast Range side bar

Post high school, Vancouver designer Peter Pierobon knew his future was in furniture (having had an epiphany while flipping through a tome of chairs and tables), but didn’t know where to learn the trade. Instead of simply signing up at a local community college, he bought a VW Westphalian (it was the early seventies) and travelled North America for 10 months looking for the perfect mentor. He found it in Wendell Castle, a renowned master craftsman equally well-versed in the artistic and engineering sides of design. Forty odd year’s later, Pierobon’s walnut side bar proves that he both learned his lessons well and continues to push himself. The form was inspired by to the beauty of the Rocky Mountains and is hand-constructed with laser-like precision – necessary when building with such complex geometries and colliding, slanted shapes. 36″ h x 15′ w x 28″ d. $19,500. Through

This piece originally appeared in the Globe and Mail on Thursday, July 18, 2013.

Coveted: Molo’s Matcha Bowl

Molo's matcha bowl

Molo’s matcha bowl

In all of our lives, there are short, daily rituals that become so routine that they are almost done unconsciously: a habitual, early morning jolt of coffee, for example, which is chugged for its caffeine rather than savoured for its flavours. To designers Stephanie Forsythe and Todd MacAllen—who run an award-winning studio in Vancouver called Molo—these humble habits are made memorable when undertaken with a sublimely beautiful object. Their Float Matcha bowl was inspired by a trip to Kyoto, after Forsythe and MacAllen sipped the namesake beverage—a high quality, antioxidant rich form of green tea—in a traditional teahouse along the Shirakawa Canal. The vessel can, of course, be used for the Japanese energy booster, but is proportioned equally well for lattes, soups, cereals or sorbets—everyday foods which look otherworldly in the seemingly weightless, ethereal glass cylinder. Float Matcha Bowl. 470ml. Approx. $100. Through

This piece originally appeared in the Globe and Mail on Thursday, July 11, 2013.

Coveted: Zoë Mowat’s Arbor Jewellery Stand

A jewellery stand inspired by birds

A jewellery stand inspired by birds

When an Australian bowerbird wants to attract a mate, it surrounds itself with eye-catching, often glinting things like shells, feathers and scarps of metals. Humans, of course, have a similar mating ritual: adorning bling. Which is why Montreal-based designer Zoë Mowat, after reading about the birds in National Geographic, was inspired to create her Arbor jewellery stand. Fittingly, the piece is replete with clever yet subtle aviary references. The shallow dishes for rings and earrings could just as easily be perches or feeders for plumed creatures. And when the sleek, hand-lathed walnut bar is hung with bangles, bracelets and amulets, it starts to look like a branch covered in simmering, sparkly leaves. Arbor Jewelley Stand. Price upon request. Through

This piece originally appeared in the Globe and Mail on Thursday, July 4, 2013.