What’s That Smell? A Healthy Home

Photo courtesy of Shai Gil/superkul

Photo courtesy of Shai Gil/superkul

One of the telltale features of a freshly finished, just-built home isn’t the gleaming appliances or unscuffed, piano-gloss floors. It’s the heady, intoxicating, dizzyingly clean smell.

It’s an odour that architect Meg Graham is intimately familiar with, as the principal of Toronto’s Superkul, an award-winning studio that has built many top-quality houses. But in a home she recently completed in Mulmur, Ont. – a beautiful, waterside bungalow with sunbathed interiors and a rich, woodsy palette – “there was no new-home smell,” she says. Not because anything was amiss, but because everything had gone according to plan.

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Coveted: Riley McFerrin’s Tidal Flux Ottoman

The Tidal Flux Ottoman

The Tidal Flux Ottoman

Designer Riley McFerrin was raised in a place that celebrates its artificiality: Los Angeles. But because he married a Canadian (and hated L.A.’s smog), he now lives somewhere almost entirely natural: British Columbia’s serene Sunshine Coast. The unspoiled environs inspire his work. At his year-old studio Hinterland, he hand makes light fixtures from foraged beach branches, and crafts side tables that echo the crystalline shapes of the Rockies. His Tidal Flux Ottoman (co-created with his wife, illustrator Sara Gillingham, as well as fibre artist Coral Harding) takes after the humble, netted crab trap. The rope work – a mix of macramé, crochet and sailors’ knots – looks delicate but is highly durable. The cotton, wool and nylon cords are wrapped around a brass-covered, stainless-steel frame and are tied to withstand wind, rain and the roughest of seas. Tidal Flux Ottoman $3,000. hinterlanddesign.com.

This piece originally appeared in the Globe and Mail on Thursday, June 12, 2014.

Um, I Tried: My Attempt at 3D Printing

My 3D printed key chain

My 3D printed key chain

It’s fortunate I make my living as a writer: I’m uniquely ill-equipped to do anything else. But I recently got to play industrial designer. I took a workshop called 3D Printing for Total Beginners, hosted by Toronto’s Hot Pop Factory. In about two hours, I learned how to use 3-D modelling software, conceptualize an object and produce it on a desktop MakerBot printer.

I was eager to do the class for the same reason as many of my classmates, who came from a broad range of backgrounds, including banking, nursing, engineering and education. I wanted to play with the nascent technology, to see what I could build with a mouse and my imagination. 3-D printers and open-source design software promise to be the future. One day soon, they could transform the way we create, acquire and consume just about everything. Instead of going to the store or ordering online, we’ll print our own customized cutlery, toothbrushes, furniture – whatever – ourselves.

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