Scent pro Tracy Pepe
The lobby of Toronto’s Trump Hotel has all of the elements of a ritzy, five-star lodging. The check-in desk is wrapped in Macassar ebony. The floor is inlaid with onyx and the drapes are velvet.
The most luxurious design detail, however, isn’t visible or even that discernible. Subtle wafts of champagne and caviar drift through the foyer, giving the place an air of exclusivity, and providing an olfactory signal to the c-suite clientele that they’ve arrived – literally and figuratively.
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.
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.
The Hanger chair by Umbra Shift and Philippe Malouin
Until recently, Umbra, the Toronto-based, cheap-and-cheerful housewares producer (a bit like Ikea, only more plastics than particleboards), held a very specific place in mind. It was the brand that made my first, grown-up, moving-out-of-mom’s-house garbage can – the Garbo, designed by Karim Rashid, which I got on my way to university. In my late teens, I thought its plump, futuristic curves were cool (especially as mine was a silvery-blue colour). And it was cheap – likely less than a movie ticket, which is probably why almost everyone else I knew had one, too. So for me, Umbra will always conjure memories of my freshman room – decorated, as it was, on a dime. Something to remember fondly, if not to repeat.
Sarah Eldershaw’s DIY shoes
Thanks to the growing Maker Movement, more people are enthusiastic about reclaiming once foreign-made, mass-produced consumables. Whether it’s something old school such as macramé plant hangers, or cutting edge and technical such as computer hardware, DIYers are becoming more prevalent. Not to mention profitable. According to a recent Economist article, Brooklyn-based Etsy, for example, generated sales of more than $1-billion (U.S.) in 2013, the vast majority of which was driven by small, part-time, at-home producers (of which there are over one million worldwide).
Pepe Heykoop’s paper vase project. Photo by Annemarijne Bax
It’s a familiar, often unfortunate equation: a designer (industrial, fashion etc.) from a wealthy country has a trend-setting idea, manufacturers it for pennies in an impoverished country and then sells it for a premium without sharing the riches with the labourers who made it.
Dutch designer Pepe Heykoop is trying to create a new paradigm. His paper-vase project is both aesthetically edgy and morally sound. It was recently shown at the largest furniture fair in the world, Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan, Italy, where the influential design blog Dezeen called it a “a runaway success.” The business model for the vases is helping raise a community in Mumbai out of severe poverty.