MEET OUR (LOCAL) MAKERS: Bespoke furniture maker, Jason Klager is inspired by the simplicity of Japanese design

by Laura Goldstein

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Many of Jason Klager’s designs have a distinct Asian influence. He used black walnut, western maple, zebrano, wenge & imbuya woods with pierced carvings of branches in his “Autumn’s Display” cabinet. Photo:

Jason Klager has never visited Japan but it’s on his bucket list. The custom fine furniture and cabinet maker creates subtly elegant streamlined pieces in beautiful contrasting wood grains. Many designs have a distinct Asian influence: pierced carvings of tree branches resembling lace are all hand-made; brushstrokes emulate swimming koi and hidden compartments all inspire a Zen-like affinity with nature.

“I love Japanese Tansu (storage cabinets) and puzzles,” says Klager from his studio in Prince George, British Columbia. “My Matsuba Coffee Table was made for a Japanese client and I used several exotic woods like wenge and zebrano with black walnut and mahogany. It opens into various removable compartments and hidden drawers.” Furniture by studio klager can be found at SwitzerCultCreative 1725 West 3rd Avenue in Vancouver.

His newest iteration is his Folio Table Series in walnut, white oak and the boldly striped zebrano wood tops. The geometric tables have a wood base with some sprayed with a black conversion varnish and resemble building blocks for adults. They can be combined in multiple permutations including stacked to add height.

Klager's newest furniture collection is his "Folio Table Series" Photo:

Klager’s newest furniture collection is his “Folio Table Series” in walnut. Photo: John Watson

“Working in exotic woods like zebrano, highly reflective bubinga from Africa or wenge though beautiful, are expensive and much more temperamental in our climate so I also work a lot in local woods like birch,walnut and pine that tolerate our cold, dry winters,” explains Klager. His furniture is coveted by the Canadian Consulate in Iceland and for official residences in Beijing and Guyana all through SwitzerCultCreative .

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Klager created the imaginative design and furniture for Fingerprints Early Learning Centre, Prince George. Photo:

The versatile cabinetmaker who received his training at Inside Passage School of Fine Woodworking on B.C.’s Sunshine Coast, is also in great demand designing imaginative, modern learning centres for children. The Duchess Learning Centre in Prince George boasts sturdy, child-size play kitchens in wood with a real sink, cubbies, art easels and a cleverly elevated platform and reading area with slide.  Even adults would love to lounge in Fingerprints Early Learning Centre, Prince George with it’s cool cantilever platform like the prow of a ship; polycarbonate covered circle hammock in which to read and a spectacular loft with an elevated maze equipped with motion-activated LED lights throughout.

The father of two boys, Klager turned one son’s bed into a gold miner’s cabin with canvas over the top and LED lights.

“It takes time and patience, but for me making bespoke furniture is a labour of love.”

Jason Klager

Bespoke furniture craftsman, Jason Klager at work in his Prince George, B.C. studio. Photo:

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MEET OUR (LOCAL) MAKERS: With an eye for contemporary graphics, Iván Meade’s Mexican heritage is at the heart of his prolific product designs

By Laura Goldstein

Pirita Crema

The pattern of silver nuggets in Iván Meade’s faux suede fabric,’Pirita’, is a tribute to the Meade family’s 300 -year-old silver mining business in Mexico. Photo: Meade Design Group

“I remember playing with marbles on my grandparents’ tiled floor when I was a little boy in San Luis Potosi, a beautiful colonial silver mining town north of Mexico City,” reminisces textile designer, Iván Meade by phone from his eponymous interior design studio in Victoria. In fact, that memory had such a profound effect on the adult Meade that he re-created its pattern as Vista Hermosa, part of his new line of luxury fabrics.

A personal narrative always triggers the creation process for principal designer and founder of Meade Design Group, Iván Meade. His meticulously curated fabric collections, soft furnishings, branded chocolate and most recently, candles can be found at SwitzerCultCreative 1725 West 3rd Avenue in Vancouver.

As a student, Meade began a gap year visiting his aunt in Victoria before backpacking through Europe, and she urged him to return to Canada. “I’ve always been passionate about design,” admits Meade who was mentored by another aunt who was a renowned interior decorator in Mexico. “After I moved to Canada in 1998, I tried to get international brands like Kravat to manufacture my fabrics but they had never heard of me. I decided that I wouldn’t give up and instead found my own wonderful manufacturer in the U.S. who uses sustainable methods to produce my fabrics,” he explains.

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Principal designer and founder of Meade Design Group, Iván Meade in his studio in Victoria. Photo: Sarah MacNeill, Carte Studio

Pirita, in two colour-ways and printed on faux suede is a sophisticated take on silver nuggets (and a tribute to the Meade family’s 300 -year-old silver mining business in Mexico.) Mariposa recalls a French floral pink toile, popular as drapery, pillow and window treatments and an elegant favourite of his mother, Chelita. Jinete, an equestrian motif that Meade designed, was based on the popularity of Lappanzer Stallions, bred for precision dancing and wildly popular in Mexico and Vienna. Created as double-sided pillows in polyester faux suede, a client wanted them for the bedroom of her equine-loving child.

“All of my fabrics have been designed to integrate into other manufacturer’s inventory in addition to many combinations within the line itself,” says Meade.

Chocolate Bars

Meade collaborated with Sunshine Coast chocolatier, Sylvia Punguntzky on the launch of 6 organic chocolate bars. His branding corresponds with the designer’s most popular fabrics. Photo: Meade Design Group

Never one to rest on his laurels (or his love of good chocolate,) Meade collaborated with Sunshine Coast chocolatier, Sylvia Punguntzky of Art Meets Chocolate on the launch of 6 organic chocolate bars. The brand packaging deliciously corresponds to that of Meade’s fabrics: Eme, is an abstract drizzle of salted caramel, fleur de sel with 70% dark chocolate from Africa while Ghost Chili & Nibs mimics the geometric optical illusion of his Cubo fabric and is 70% dark chocolate from Tanzania. “For every chocolate bar sold, a tree is planted or protected under the ‘One Bar One Tree‘ programme,” he adds.

Meade’s seemingly insatiable creative drive led him to delve into luxury candles and their accessories.


For his luxury APAPACHO candles, Meade also designed wick-cutting and candle snuffing accessories. Photo: Meade Design Group

“For the development of our all natural candles, Apapacho Ome (Oak Moss + Rosewood) and Apapacho Ce, (White Amber + Vetiver,) we worked with a perfumer and went through 30 different combinations of fragrances before perfecting these scents,” he explains. The organic candles are made by hand in Tofino.

Apapacho roughly translates as ‘embrace of the soul’ in Nahuatl, a Mexican dialect. “They are masculine and feminine, yin and yang – an olfactory experience without giving you a headache or competing with your meal,” assures Meade.

Whether designing for work or just travelling for pleasure, Meade tries to live by advice given to him by his mother. “Find luxury in what you touch every day.”



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Former BMX Freestyle World Champion, JAY MIRON Flips Over His Work As Bespoke Furniture Maker

By Laura Goldstein

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Jay Miron working in his Eastside Vancouver studio on one of his vintage General woodworking machines. Photo courtesy Jay Miron Furniture

It may seem like a surprising dichotomy of interests, but Vancouver’s former Freestyle BMX World Champion (9 medals) explains that his métier designing and making furniture shares similar attributes to playing a professional sport.

“You know, they both take an incredibly high level of attention to master, patience and a passion to succeed,” says Miron from his East-end woodworking studio.

On January 25th Jay Miron Furniture launches an eclectic collection of bespoke furniture found exclusively at SwitzerCultCreative 1725 West 3rd Avenue in Vancouver.

Credited with inventing over 30 BMX bike tricks over his international sports career in the 90s including the double back-flip, Miron opened MacNeil Bikes in Vancouver while still competing. He retired from BMX competition in 2005 after multiple concussions and broken bones and later sold MacNeil Bikes in 2010. “Sitting at a desk was never for me and during that time I always thought about woodworking,” he confides.

Jay Miron - OrcaChairs at IDS SwitzerCultCreativeBooth

The Orca Lounge Chairs & Ottoman at 2017 IDS-Vancouver in the SwitzerCultCreative Booth. Photo: Jeremy Segal Photography

After studying with renowned cabinetmaker and craftsman, Robert VanNorman at Inside Passage Workshop on the Sunshine coast, Miron took a year to track down vintage wood-working machines made by General which he discovered online and then refurbished for his studio.

Miron’s Orca Lounge Chairs & Ottoman first showcased at Address and at the 2017 IDS-Vancouver Interior Design Show in the SwitzerCultCreative booth. “They were inspired by a visit I made to Tanzania ten years ago,” says Miron. “I sat in an African chief’s chair that was incredibly comfortable. This is my mid-century modern, Westcoast interpretation, all handmade then upholstered in velvet. A friend actually thought the curves resembled the skeleton of an Orca.”

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The Kern Dining Table was inspired by the splat of a drop of water. Miron used 5 species of wood in its intricate construction. Photo: Haruki Noguchi

An exotic pinwheel comes to mind when viewing The Kern Table for which Miron integrated five different wood species juxtaposing colours and textures: walnut, wenge, padauk and two kinds of maple. “I saw a paint drop and splatter and that gave me the initial idea,” laughs Miron.

The Harp Spindle Bed (queen size) in cherry wood boasts a curvaceous headboard that mimics the strings of the instrument with tapered spindles and was a tour de force to construct for Miron.

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The Walnut bespoke Drafting Table “was made for a client who still draws using real paper,” marvels Jay Miron. Photo: Haruki Noguchi

Reminiscing about the traditional French Drafting Table he designed and crafted, Miron was excited because his client “still draws using a real piece of paper!” The made-to-measure piece in walnut with elegant brass pins for adjusting rings that work from 25,30 & 35 degrees, were heights specified by his client.

At first glance, The Patricia Coffee Table resembles a low table with internal bookshelf covered with a gingham tablecloth. Look closer and you realize that’s not fabric but all meticulously matched parquetry in cherry,maple and padauk woods – over 300 squares – that took Miron months to construct.

Jay Miron - Patricia Coffee Table

The Patricia Coffee Table top resembles a gingham tablecloth and is composed of over 300 squares of maple, cherry and padauk woods. Photo: Haruki Noguchi

The final touch and a ritual for Miron upon finishing each piece of furniture is screwing in his brass engraved signature plate.

“I build my bespoke furniture pieces like they did 100 years ago and that’s why furniture lasted and was passed down from generation to generation. I hope some of my pieces will be too!”

See the first in a series of videos about Jay here:


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MEET OUR (LOCAL) MAKERS: Nature inspires the “Fraternity of Antler, Beak and Claw” for ceramicist, Russell Hackney

By Laura Goldstein

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Russell Hackney’s collection of Egg Vases are meticulously embossed with insects,flowers and leaves inspired by those seen in his garden on Bowen Island. Photo courtesy Russell Hackney Ceramics

If you grew up loving Beatrix Potter’s watercolour illustrations, reading The Chronicles of Narnia or the beloved owls in Harry Potter books and films, Russell Hackney Ceramics will evoke the same joy in nature’s simplicity.

A third- generation ceramicist from Stoke-on-Trent England, Hackney immigrated to Bowen Island, British Columbia with his wife in 2002. He applies his specialty of delightful flora & fauna embossments to his ceramic vases, canisters, cookie jars and lanterns with meticulous detail, capturing each creature with subtle humour without looking cartoonish. His unique, hand-made small production pieces can be found in the Pop-Up Shop at SwitzerCultCreative 1725 West 3rdAvenue, Vancouver and online at Oden Gallery.

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Third generation ceramicist, Russell Hackney in his Vancouver studio. Photo courtesy Russell Hackney Studio.

“At 16, I apprenticed with my father, a Master Ceramicist, in the family business modelling 60-piece dinner services and tableware for large companies like Dudson in Stoke-on-Trent. Later in my 20s, in celebration of their 200th Anniversary, I modelled a replica of a 19th Century clock that was presented to HRH Queen Elizabeth when she visited their company,” reminisces Hackney from his Vancouver studio.

The bear, part of the "Fraternity of Antler, Beak and Claw" Collection represents the warrior of the forest, in this case donning a chef's hat and guarding the cookie jar. Photo courtesy Russell Hackney Studio

The bear guarding the Cookie Jar is part of the “Fraternity of Antler, Beak and Claw” Collection. Photo courtesy Russell Hackney Studio

“My embossed pieces in the Fraternity of Antler, Beak and Claw are represented by the deer who are so elegant and remain in the shadows; the owl is the watcher of the forest and the bear is the warrior,” he explains. Hackney often depicts the creatures wearing crowns on his ceramics, (the bear also wears a chef’s hat, very apropos on the Cookie Jar, safeguarding its contents.)

Bees and butterflies, hares and chaffinches frolic on churns, vases and vessels, in pale shades of eggshell, pink, butter yellow and robin’s egg blue. Turn the porcelain and several of Hackney’s ceramics are lovingly embossed with poetry, making them the perfect anniversary or house-warming gifts.

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Embossing details on a hare, one of Hackney’s popular designs on porcelain. Photo courtesy Russell Hackney Studio

“If all art is in some way a reaction, then the pursuit of beauty is my reaction to the world around me,” says Hackney. “Where nature is at its most memorable, I draw inspiration from it.”

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Hackney’s “watcher of the forest”- the owl, takes on magical attributes embossed on a lantern . Photo courtesy Russell Hackney Studio.

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MEET OUR (LOCAL) MAKERS: Indigenous weaver, Jessica Silvey, captures the spirit of the forest in her cedar baskets, wall hangings and mats

by Laura Goldstein

Jessica Silvey

Jessica Silvey’s passion for weaving was instilled in her early by visits with her paternal grandmother harvesting plants in the bush. Photo courtesy Red Cedar Woman Weaving Studio

A childhood spent with her paternal grandmother fishing, gardening and harvesting cedar roots had a profound impact on fibre artist, Jessica Silvey. Those memories imbued in her a passion for traditional weaving techniques and patterns and a reverence for nature.

Silvey’s hand-made, aromatic woven pieces from her Red Cedar Woman Weaving Studio in Sechelt B.C., can be found at the SwitzerCultCreative showroom, 1725 West 3rdAvenue, Vancouver.

“I remember as a child being in awe of beautiful baskets woven by my aunts that were so huge, I could sit inside them and pull the lids over my head,” laughs Silvey, of Coast Salish and Portuguese descent. Predominately fishermen, Silvey was brought up with her extended family in Egmont, B.C. on 29 acres of waterfront. She was accustomed to seeing her father and uncles mending their nets and she accompanied her grandmother into the bush to gather bark and cedar roots to use for weaving baskets.

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To create colours in her baskets, Silvey makes dyes from plants. Photo courtesy Red Cedar Woman Weaving Studio

“I’m mostly self-taught and love the whole process of gathering roots in the spring when the sap is running. My kids used to tease me that the bathtub was full of cedar!” Silvey confides. “I love the golden patina of the wood. All the dyes I use in my pieces are natural from plants- Red Alder bark for burgundy to orange shades and black from boiling iron or from roots buried deep in the mud. It’s a time-consuming and meticulous process but I feel so rich and contented when I leave the forest and the weaving is very meditative.”

Silvey sometimes incorporates found eagle down feathers from the beach into her baskets and wall hangings.

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Whether weaving baskets, mats or wall hangings, all require meticulous work that Silvey finds meditative. Photo courtesy Red Cedar Woman Weaving Studio

Recently she gave a cedar basket weaving workshop to 31 participants at the Museum of Anthropology (MOA) and her artistry is part of the current Exhibition, The Fabric of Our Land: Salish Weaving running until April 15th, 2018.

 An appreciation of weaving, like everything made by hand, is undergoing a renaissance: “You know,” adds Silvey, “I see weaving as more than a craft. It’s a legacy because there is a part of yourself in everything you create.”

Jessica Silvey

Silvey sometimes incorporates found eagle down feathers from the beach, bark and twigs into her baskets and wall hangings. Photo courtesy Red Cedar Woman Weaving Studio.

Posted in Contemporary, Interior Design, Local, North West Coast Aboriginal, Textiles, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

MEET OUR (LOCAL) MAKERS: Ceramicist, Anyuta Gusakova expresses joy through clay

by Laura Goldstein

Anyuta Gusakova

Ceramicist, Anyuta Gusakova holding a ‘MoBear’ with ‘Blue Pet” in foreground. Photo: Malcolm Parry

With a delightfully naïve style evocative of childhood, ceramicist and multi-media artist, Anyuta Gusakova’s decorative porcelain collections reflect her playful nature and love of multi-cultural myth and folk art.  Her hand-made, small production pieces from Anyuta Studio, can be found in the Pop-Up Shop at the SwitzerCultCreative showroom, 1725 West 3rd Avenue, Vancouver and online at Oden Gallery.

“When I was a little girl growing up in the port city of Vladivostok, (it was still part of the Iron Curtain,) everything was very grey and dull. I remember classmates whose fathers were sailors, bringing to school colourful gum wrappers and little toys in crazy colours and patterns from Japan. I also had a book on Russian folk toys. Years later, as I began creating in porcelain, these pieces, like my Japanese and Russian Doll Vases, just emerged subconsciously,” laughs Gusakova from her Vancouver studio.

Anyuta Gusakova - Japanese Doll Blue

Gusakova’s Russian and Japanese minimalist Doll Vases with gold accents are inspired by childhood folklore. Photo: Anyuta Gusakova

Her stylized big and baby MoBears are clever molecular atom re-creations of her favourite childhood teddy bear.  Mishka the Russian Bear recalls the hand-painted exotic patterns of traditional ‘matryoshka’ nesting dolls while others display faux fur on porcelain, the latter making for the perfect pet without the cleanup!

Gusakova’s edgy Spirit of the Woods OLEN Deer Skull Collection was inspired by a real deer skull found in a forest in B.C. The abstract porcelain sculptures of which several are embellished with gold branching antlers, can also be wall-mounted, used as tabletop décor or bookends and evoke a spiritual connection to nature.

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Gusakova’s “Wings of Inspiration” statuette was presented to 16-time Grammy Award-winner, David Foster by the Canadian College of Performing Arts in 2017. Photo: Anyuta Gusakova

Recently, Gusakova won the 2017 national design challenge to create the Canadian Legend Award initiated by the Canadian College of Performing Arts and The Canadian Heritage Arts Society. Her Wings of Inspiration statuette was presented to 16-time Grammy Award-winning music producer, David Foster in his hometown of Victoria.

"Spirit of the Woods" OLEN Deer Skull Collection was inspired by a real deer skull found in a forest in B.C. Photo: Anyuta Gusakova

“Spirit of the Woods” OLEN Deer Skull Collection was inspired by a real deer skull found in a forest in B.C. Photo: Anyuta Gusakova

Like gardeners plunging their hands into the raw earth, “It’s an amazing feeling working in clay,” confides Gusakova. “I experience an immense sense of joy through my art work and this is what I want to share.”

Posted in Contemporary, Design Community, Designer Showroom, Interior Design, Local, Luxury, Modern | Leave a comment woodcarving technique is inscribed on UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List


Woodcarving technique practiced by Zanat inscribed on UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity List

Grandfather Adem at Belgrade Furniture Fair 1936
Grandfather Adem at Belgrade Furniture Fair, 1936, (courtesy
of Zanat and the Niksic family)

Wednesday, December 6, 2017 was a historic day for Zanat, for our family business, Konjic—our town—but also for Bosnia and Herzegovina, our country. The woodcarving technique which has been practiced and passed down through four generations in the Niksic family, the owners of Zanat, was inscribed onto the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity at the 12th session of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee for Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, which is taking place in Jeju, Republic of Korea. In Zanat, we still use this same ancient woodcarving technique to carve the modern furniture and decorative items, created through design collaborations with renown international designers, such as Monica Förster, Harri Koskinen, Gert Wingårdh, Ilse Crawford and hopefully soon through new collaborations now in the making with other prominent design names.

One of the first products produced by Adem Niksic, (courtesy of Zanat and the Niksic family)

As written on the UNESCO’s official webpage, “Konjic woodcarving is an artistic craft with a long tradition in the Konjic municipality. The woodcarvings – which include furniture, sophisticated interiors and small decorative objects – stand out for their recognizable hand-carved motifs and overall visual identity. The woodcarving is a constitutive part of the local community’s culture, a measure of the beauty and amenity of home interiors, and a tradition that forges a sense of community and belonging. The practice not only plays a very important role at the community level in Konjic, however, but also countrywide and in diaspora communities. It is an economically viable, socially inclusive and ecologically sustainable craft practised by different ethnic and confessional groups, which serves as an instrument of dialogue and cooperation…The owners of family-run woodcarving workshops are most responsible for safeguarding the element, training apprentice woodcarvers and popularizing the craft.”

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The woodcarving technique that is specific to the town of Konjic in Bosnia originated in a small nearby village as a primitive art form. The Austro-Hungarian government, which ruled Bosnia between 1878 and the start of World War I in 1914, decided to invest in perfecting the technique by providing scholarships for most talented local woodcarvers to study arts and craft in Sarajevo and later by financing woodcarving education in Konjic. The investments paid off and Konjic soon became known as the woodcarving Mecca of the empire, where beautiful furniture and decorative items were hand-made in a couple of dozen woodcarving shops that later sprawled the town between the two World Wars.

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One of the best-known woodcarving shops was owned by Adem Niksic, the grandfather of Zanat founders, Orhan and Adem Niksic. Adem and his brothers built an impressive family business, setting trends for luxury urban interior design in the former Yugoslavia, but was forced to close it when World War II started. As soon as private craft shops were allowed to operate in then socialist Yugoslavia, Adem’s sons Mukerem and Besim reopened the business in 1959 and kept developing it until Yugoslavia fell apart and war broke out in Bosnia in 1992. Undeterred by the war, Besim kept the business opened, albeit operating at 10 percent capacity, and made new investments as soon as the war ended in 1995.

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Today woodcarving in Konjic is going through a renaissance almost entirely thanks to Zanat, where woodcarvers in their 20s and 80s work together. Zanat is regularly taking new apprentices, training them and hiring, contributing to reduction of unemployment in a country where 26 percent of the labor force is unemployed. By building bridges between modern design and this form of fine craftsmanship, Zanat is preserving an element of intangible cultural heritage of humanity, creating gainful employment opportunities and adding a new aesthetic dimension to furniture design.
The recognition of the Konjic woodcarving technique by UNESCO is a recognition to all woodcarvers who kept the tradition alive despite all the obstacles laid down by the difficult history of the Balkans. The inscription is a gift for woodcarvers of all generations and for entire Bosnia and Herzegovina. SwitzerCultCreative is proud to have been the first to bring Zanat designs to Canada.

Kind regards,

– – – – –
Bojana Niksic
Sales and Marketing Associate

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MEET OUR (LOCAL) MAKERS: From filmmaker to textile designer, Stephanie Symns brings a painterly eye to her craft

By Laura Goldstein

Imaginative, playful, and a passion for hand-made craft with enduring design describes each of our local artisans, whose unique, small production pieces can be found in the Pop-Up Shop at SwitzerCultCreative and online at Oden Gallery. Their labours of love easily translate into your own conception of what makes a comfortable and luxurious living space.


‘DigiFlora’ throw pillows resemble a kaleidoscope of images originating from torn posters and photographs. Photo: Eydis Einarsdottir

One of the biggest trends in home décor for 2018 are bold, colourful geometrics and optical illusions in furniture, wallpaper, lighting and textiles.  STEPHANIE SYMNS Antipod Workshop, Vancouver, brings a mathematician’s meticulous process, combined with a painterly eye, to her stunning collections of hand-made, block and digitally printed pillows, runners and throws.


Syms created the graphic custom upholstery for a client’s vintage chair with ‘Pixelshift’ pillow. Photo: Eydis Einarsdottir

“I’m really interested in repetitive patterns from ancient Greek times, indigenous cultures to modern graphic design like the doodles and murals by contemporary British artist, John Burgerman,” explains the award-winning textile designer, a native New Zealander who moved to Vancouver in 2000.

Ripped and frayed fragments from old posters on hoardings in Chinatown – even remnants of text, become inspirational fodder for Symns’ creations, re-born in tangerine, blue and black abstracts printed on velvet for her Artifact Pillows. Windows 3.0 Pillows (Symns’ wry commentary on urban life,) is an optical illusion in hot rhodamine pink reflecting “the patterns in rows of ubiquitous office buildings around the city.”


Symns’ eco-friendly, hand-dyed ‘Indigo Collection’ riffs on the ancient Japanese dyeing process of Shibori. Photo: Stephanie Symns

Her vivid blue eco-friendly, hand-dyed Indigo Collection, riffs on the traditional Japanese technique of ‘Shibori ’ dyeing, originally used only for royalty and the samurai.

Look through a kaleidoscope and you see the DigiFlora Throw Pillows. Symns photographs small details in her everyday environment that when combined and digitally printed on fabric, makes for boldly graphic plush décor.

Says Symns,“I think that buying beautifully made durable goods that you love from people with a story to tell, is an antidote to a fast-paced world of mass production.”


Vancouver’s award-winning textile designer, Stephanie Symns. Photo credit: Brent Haynes


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Celebrated Spanish Designer, Jaime Hayon Wows at SwitzerCultCreative Booth & Presentation at IDS-Vancouver

By Laura Goldstein

SwitzerCultCreative - Jaime Hayon with Adam Bellas Photo: Grace Lanuza

Spanish designer, Jaime Hayon (l) with Adam Bellas, partner SwitzerCultCreative and the Arpa Armchair at IDS-Vancouver. Photo: Grace Lanuza

If Jaime Hayon’s day job doesn’t work out, he can always be a stand-up comedian. The charismatic Spanish artist and designer whose international accolades include Time Magazine and Wallpaper naming him in their 100 most relevant and influential creators of our times, is sitting in his Arpa Armchair  in the SwitzerCultCreative booth at 2017 IDS-Vancouver. He’s a headline speaker here at the Pacific Northwest’s largest interior design show. As sponsors of his presentation, SwitzerCultCreative feted Hayon at a celebratory dinner  the evening before. “Jaime is so down-to-earth and fascinating to speak with and never seems to be affected by jet lag,” laughs Adam Bellas, SwitzerCultCreative partner. “I finally had to call it quits at 2:30 a.m. and look at him- he’s fresh as a daisy this morning!”

Born in Madrid but now based in Valencia, the man with the fantastical imagination has a prolific output of collaborations: Stone Age Folk furniture and lighting in kaleidoscopic colours for Israeli company, Caesarstone; porcelain for Spanish brand Lladro; fruity crystal objects for Baccarat; Afghani and Japanese folklore-inspired tapestries and rugs for Nanimarquina; interiors for Hotel Barcelo Torre in Madrid; designs for Camper shoe brand and most recently- as fashion apparel designer for his new company, Jijibaba in London.

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Jaime Hayon takes to the Caesarstone Stage at IDS-Vancouver to illustrate his many imaginative projects. Photo: Grace Lanuza

Does he ever sleep?

“I feel like I’m a little boy telling stories,” Hayon says to a rapt IDS-Vancouver audience of 300 that he holds in the palm of his hand through humorous anecdotes, PowerPoint presentation and the sheer speed at which his mind works. “I only try to work on things that I love and they must not be too serious. I have a third eye when I see something and I’m really influenced by something old – like folk tales- then give it a modern twist.”

That is certainly apparent in his Sé Collection II in the IDS booth and in his larger inventory of furniture in the SwitzerCultCreative showroom. Hayon’s Arpa Chair was inspired by musical instruments, specifically the harp and its legs from researching those of insects. Ancient drums and bongos are referenced in Hayon’s sculptured cylindrical side tables, Bala Lo in pastel colours and Bala Metal in a burnished copper wrap. The Tambor Table is a stunning space-defining coffee table with Carrara marble top and pastel green lacquered steel base.

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Bala Metal side tables designed by Jaime Hayon for Sé Collection II with Cararra marble in a burnished copper wrap. Photo: Grace Lanuza

“I know it’s not always easy convincing clients but it’s best to pursue quality rather than trying to please the masses.”

“I transform spaces into experiences,” Hayon continues. A statement particularly relevant for his many international outdoor installations. Like Hayon’s colourfully patterned menagerie of quirky creatures at the recent exhibition at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta or a 10-foot high chess set in London’s Trafalgar Square that completely changed the landscape. “Kids of course were attracted to them immediately and adults were very hesitant but after a while even they started climbing, sliding and riding on them,” Hayon laughs.

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Jaime Hayon’s Tambor Table for for Sé Collection II, is a stunning space-defining coffee table with Carrara marble top and pastel green lacquered steel base. Photo: Grace Lanuza

I ask Hayon, 43 and the father of two little boys, if he’s designed their toys and bedroom furniture (they must be the envy of all their friends.) “Oh absolutely. I designed a huge rope web over their beds with a gigantic elephant head inside.” They just love it!”





Posted in Contemporary, Designer Showroom, Interior Design, Interior Design Show, Interior Design Showroom, Jaime Hayon, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Art By Design: Furniture & Lighting by Israeli Makers Are Both Sculptural & Functional

By Laura Goldstein

Hagit Pincovici 3

Hagit Pincovici established her studio near Milan. She’s greatly influenced by the geometrics and minimalist lines of Art Deco. Photo: Fabrizio Checchi

When Hagit Pincovici was a little girl in her grandparents’ atelier in Tel Aviv, she remembers the exhilaration of playing with and running between colourful sheets of plexiglass that would eventually be molded into trays, frames and furniture by her artisan grandparents. “When my grandfather left Romania for Israel, he brought the recipe for making plexiglass and I remember it was a kind of paradise looking through all the colourful pieces,” says Pincovici, now third generation maker, reminiscing by Skype from Tel Aviv.

It’s not entirely coincidental then, that her multi-hued Art Deco-inspired furniture in SwitzerCultCreative’s showroom evokes a modern twist on a bygone era. Pincovici’s From Above Coffee Table from The Eclipse Collection couldn’t be more timely; a geometric Carrara marble ‘moon’ is integrated into an abstract path of black shadow and coral sun in lacquered wood on a brushed brass base. Flamingo Storage Side Table, also from The Eclipse Collection, is a stunning sculptural platform perched atop stilt-like legs of its namesake. A secret compartment rotates out to store jewelry if placed in a bedroom or as a handy bar for drinks, sure to spark conversation in the living room. The Metaphysics Sideboard is Pincovici’s take on sophisticated elegance. The blue and black lacquered geometric wood console designed at multiple heights, is mounted on brushed brass and immediately recalls the glamour of the 20s and 30s. “I love the thin minimalist lines just bordering on the decorative,” she explains.

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Pincovici’s Flamingo Storage Side Table, is a sculptural piece that can double as a bar in the living room or jewelry case with hidden drawr in the bedroom. Photo courtesy Hagit Pincovici.

After working her way up as head of product development for Aqua Creations in Israel and organizing their exhibition at the annual Salone del Mobile, in Milan, Pincovici decided to re-locate to Italy “where I fell in love with the Italian spirit of creativity,” not to mention her husband, Fabrizio Checchi.

She opened her own design studio in the furniture district of Brianza in 2014 where she sketches her designs by hand. Then furniture is made with traditional craftsmanship and sold internationally. When not working on her first collection of lighting, Pincovici is also an instructor at NABA (Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti,) in Milan.

“You know, we (Israeli) designers are like chameleons,” Pincovici laughs. “I don’t think we share a common style but we do share that drive to create and in Italy they really appreciate that approach.”

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Product and industrial designer, Eli Chissick creates imaginative furniture pieces using re-purposed wood and Formica. Photo courtesy Chissick Design.

London-born, Eli Chissick of Chissick Design is waxing poetic about wood. Skyping from his home-studio near Tel Aviv the award-winning designer is concerned about the environment, recycling and products that will increase the mobility of the disabled.  Unlike the vast forests found in Canada, trees are not harvested for the lumber industry in Israel and wood is usually imported. That forces the industrial and product designer to be ingenious about scavenging off-cuts and re-purposed wood from carpentry floors. “It’s a magical transformation when I sort what is usually thrown out, then press into large sheets from which I create my furniture,” explains Chissick.

The results are as sculptural as they are utilitarian. Mosaica, from Chissick’s Wood-Con-Fusion series, is a coffee table (or bench) composed of over 2,000 intricate puzzle pieces of multi-coloured wood. The Marmelade, coffee table is a mouth-watering compote of wood with inlaid lime, raspberry and white striped Formica laminate. It’s built on wheels for easy maneuvering in any space.


Gradient Cocktail Table is hand-crafted from 8 types of veneer juxtaposed from light to dark. Photo courtesy Chissick Design

“I’m really excited about working with Renee at SwitzerCultCreative because I’m now able to send my furniture designs created on the computer to her and then have many pieces hand- made in British Columbia with the same quality as in Israel,” says Chissick. Those pieces include the Gradient Cocktail Table, hand-crafted from 8 types of veneer juxtaposed from light to dark in wenge, imbuia, American walnut, teak, African walnut, anigre, white oak and maple.

 Mirror 2012, from Chissick’s Wood-Con-Fusion series, is set in a painted and lacquered salvaged wood frame and can be customized in various colours. (It was a 2015 Platinum Winner at the U.S. ADEX Awards for Product and Project Design.)


Chissick’s Mirror 2012 can be customized in many colours. Photo courtesy Chissick Design.

Always challenging himself, Chissick partnered with German company, LugerOptik to produce sleek binoculars including Manta, inspired by the sea; The Salarium Series of saltshakers based on coins from present-day currency and Sitybike that enables its rider to remove the seat and use as an independent chair.

He’s also a big proponent of TOMS- (Tikkun Olam Makers,) a global movement of extraordinary makers who donate their specialties to create solutions for people struggling with a debilitating problem. Over just three days, 100 designers, engineers and techies meet with these people personally then brainstorm in small groups and set to work making prototypes. Chissick has participated in these “Makeathons” in both Tel Aviv and San Francisco resulting in a walker that allows a person to navigate stairs; a door opener for a quadriplegic; a digital hand and a high-tech go-cart for a disabled child, to name only a few.

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Co-founder and designer of Aqua Creations, Albi Serfaty with his Lucky Lamp Wall Fixtures. Photo courtesy Aqua Creations

It’s impossible to look at Aqua Creations’ lamps, lighting installations and furniture without feeling a sense of awe and wonderment! The urge to touch them or curl up in the enveloping Gladis Lounge Chair, is overpowering. When co-founder, Albi Serfaty hears my confession, he’s laughing in agreement. “This is what art is all about,” he says, Skyping from his home in Tel Aviv. “There must be this emotional connection, both for me as a designer because I’m passionate about my work and hopefully from our pieces as interior décor in a home, a restaurant or hotel.”

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Organic floor lamps, from the Morning Glory Collection by Aqua Creations. Photo courtesy Aqua Creations

What began in 1994 as a small atelier in Tel Aviv is now a global brand with an Aqua Creations showroom in New York and their lighting installations world-wide including 1 Hotel, Brooklyn; Savoy Hotel, Seychelles; and Hotel Okura Fukuoka, Japan.

As a photographer and designer, Serfaty’s imagination has no limits, re-interpreting organic forms and abstract sea life into lighting and furniture. Morning Glory Floor Lamps, in silk over metal, when illuminated, seem to take on an otherworldly beauty all their own. Collections since 1994 show a definite evolutionary progression with current geometric shapes like The Simon Says Yes Pendant part of Aqua Creations Mino Collection. Whether as a singular hanging pendant or grouped together as colourful wall mounts as shown in the SwitzerCultCreative showroom, they add a sculptural yet functional addition to interiors.

Simon Says Wall Composition, Aqua Creations -Credit Ph. Richard Gooding and Staffan Tollgard Design Store, London

Geometric shapes like The Simon Says Yes Pendant are part of Aqua Creations Mino Collection and are available as one pendant or grouped together as sculptural art. Photo courtesy Aqua Creations.

If you can imagine thousands of magnified neurons under a microscope, you will see the genesis of The Mimosa Collection. Composed of laser-cut galvanized metal, sprayed with clear polymer, the hand-sculpted shades transmit a dreamy, calming light.

The Lucky Lamp wall fixtures are Serfaty’s newest iteration using ground-breaking technology in which each sustainable and dimmable light is controlled by a micro- computer that alters colour, motion and intensity.

“I’d love to collaborate in the future with a fashion designer like Missoni,” confides Serfaty, “and at some point, build a place that combines home, work and studio in one location.” “I’m like a sheep dog in that way- I like everything together.”

Gladis Lounge

The enveloping organic Gladis Lounge Chairs by Aqua Creations. Photo courtesy Aqua Creations.

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