Acquiring furniture and other home furnishing items from a local business that supports makers in your community has some important benefits, particularly in this time of climate emergency.

It helps the makers develop their talent and keep working in their field.   Investing in hand made furniture, art and accessories made in British Columbia and throughout Canada is the only way to ensure that these artisans, artists and craftspeople can invest all their time in their work.

By purchasing locally made product, you invest in the local economy.  Small business owners generally keep the proceeds in the local economy, by re-investing in their business and helping the wider community economy to grow.

Reduce your carbon footprint by lessening the impact of shipping when you purchase locally made items.  Designer showrooms like ours stock brands that are imported from Europe or Asia.  When we opened our showroom four years ago it was with two goals.  One was to offer designs that were not available elsewhere, of high quality, authentic design and accessible.  The other was to support local artisans and makers.  We endeavoured to offer a choice.  


Here in British Columbia, we live close to nature.  When we support local entrepreneurs, and craftspeople, we help to reduce our carbon footprint and make a positive impact on our environment.




Here are some examples of pieces that are locally made.

Vertex Cube by Jason Klager.

Clair End Table by Autonomous Furniture







Eclipse Sideboard in Blackened Oak.

Orca Chair & Ottoman by Jay Miron

One if the advantages of ordering from a local maker is the opportunity to customize a design to meet the specifications of your project.  Size, wood species and design changes are all possible.












Kick Chair & Ottoman from Nicholas Purcell





Emerald Side Table from Sholto Design



Beautifully designed and hand crafted here in Vancouver.  We can no longer say that it must be imported to be of high quality. SwitzerCultCreative is not the only local business that supports locally made product.  Located here in the Armoury District one of our neighbours Provide Home also works with local artists including Lisa Turner’s Quake Furniture Collection and the Barter Collection from Kenny Torrance. We encourage you to check them out.  And to see all our Made in Canada pieces look here:

Geo Coffee Table and Mirror designed by Eli Chissick & Made in Vancouver.

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TIMELINES: A New Exhibition At SwitzerCultCreative Traces the Passage of Time In Blown Glass By Jaan Andres and Through the Lens of Vince Hemingson

Glass artist Jaan Andres with ‘Timelines’. Photo: Christian Nambayan

By Laura Goldstein

Like icicles dissolving into an imaginary landscape, Jaan Andres’ blown glass Crystal Curios are alive with movement: while ridges of sediment have built up at a glacial pace over eons of time, the patterning in Coded Bowls mimics a kinetic energy that appears to swirl at a dizzying speed. Textural squiggles collide in a frenetic decorative motif. Their fragility is juxtaposed by the timelessness of Andres’ design.

The opening of ‘Timelines’ at SwitzerCultCreative.

“Everything around us is speeding up,” says Andres at the crowded opening of his first public Exhibition in the SwitzerCultCreative showroom. Recently, my work uses both sedimentary and, what I perceive as its opposite, accelerated textures.” 

His sculptural pieces are the culmination of work he produced during this past summer’s artists’ residency at the prestigious Museum of Glass at the Tacoma Art Museum in Washington. It attracts a select group of internationally known and emerging artists to their intensive Hot Shop in which glassblowers work in teams exploring new techniques and styles. 

‘Coded Bowls’ Blue/Black by Jaan Andres. Hot sculpted glass, wheel carved and polished. Photo: Christian Nambayan

Having grown up in the picturesque Haliburton region of Ontario, Andres was indirectly influenced by his uncle, celebrated Canadian abstract painter Jaan Poldaas. After moving to Calgary he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from ACAD and a Board of Governors Award for glass in 2007

‘About the Knee’ by Jann Andres Photo: Christian Nambayan

“About the Knee is by far the most complicated piece I’ve created,” confides the Vancouver-based glassblower. “It’s all about the curve that culminates in an unbelievable infinity point,” Andres explains. Exquisitely lit, the sculptural piece casts a shadow that dances in its own reflection and would make a beautiful lamp or hanging pendant. “It’s the perfect marriage of glass and light,” he says. “Like every glass artist in the world, transitioning into lighting is a natural progression and I absolutely will be exploring that more in the future.”

When not creating his own commissions at Vancouver’s Terminal City Glass, Andres continues to teach classes there and blowing glass for Omer Arbel’s international contemporary design and manufacturing company, BOCCI.

Photographer, Vince Hemingson with ‘Tree of Life’

Photographer Vince Hemingson’s Bodies of Work: Ten Years of Photography is an evocative interpretation in black and white of a woman’s lifecycle and her analogous relationship to the physical landscape. 

Born in Manitoba. Hemingson has lived on Vancouver Island since 1973. The award-winning photographer worked with National Geographic making documentaries for several years, before transitioning into photography. His fascination with body image and illuminating inner identity began with The Tattoo Project, published by Schiffer Books. “I shot 350 portraits in studio in colour so for my next project I wanted to do something completely different,” he explains. “In 2010 I turned 50 and went to 16 countries photographing many wild animals and when I got back I thought, ‘wouldn’t it be interesting to shoot people as if they were wild animals’. I liked the idea of photographing women as fierce, wild creatures in nature where they could feel free to express themselves.”

From Nude in the Landscape series by Vince Hemingson. Photo: Vince Hemingson

The first in the Nude in the Landscape series was shot in 2011 at Wreck Beach and Pacific Regional Park, west of Vancouver. Hemingson chose ancient driftwood etched with gauged striated textures and smooth, time-worn boulders washed by waves as his set design on which models reclined. In one photo a model is crouched in a fetal position wrapped in a womb of tree roots and branches. 

Tree of Life photographed in August of 2019 depicts women in various seasons of their lives as time alters their bodies, including pregnancy. The photo has already been viewed online by over a million people.

“Most of the women aren’t professional models and range in age from 19 to 70 -years- old. I hope Tree of Life reflects the ethnicity of women in the community and all body types,” says Hemingson. 

Walking through the photographic Exhibition with Hemingson in the showroom of SwitzerCultCreative, revealed some interesting behind-the-scenes commentary:

From ‘Nude in the Landscape’ series by Vince Hemingson. Photo: Vince Hemingson

“This is up in Snowshoe Park on Cypress Mountain,” he explains of a model posed in the snow. “What you don’t see there is a whole infrastructure to protect her from the cold hidden from view. A plastic tarp is down on the ground and wool blanket wraps her feet so the model just had to pose for about 60 seconds.”

In another photograph, a model appears in an underwater ballet, blending seamlessly with the light-dappled rocks and sand. “You find a model who says ‘I always wanted to be a mermaid,’ and you ask them to dive under the water 200 times because you can never plan what it’s going to look like,” laughs Hemingson. 

From Nude in the Landscape series by Vince Hemingson. Photo: Vince Hemingson

“As a photographer, I’m transfixed by optics and caustic ripples. What happens is when you have an uneven surface of water the ripples act as prisms. It reminds me of abstract Expressionism and the interplay between the conscious and unconscious worlds. “

“You know, it was so interesting for me as a man working on this project because it’s amazing how little we as men know about the lives of women,” he says candidly.” “I was very shocked at how all these women, who I thought were all very beautiful, were so critical of their bodies! Ninety percent of women aren’t happy about their own bodies and I think that’s kind of tragic.”

TIMELINES is showcased at the SwitzerCultCreative showroom, 1725 West 3rd Avenue until December 31st, 2019.

Posted in Contemporary, Contract/Hospitality, Design Community, Designer Showroom, Interior Design, Lighting, Local, Luxury, Modern | Leave a comment

SkLO Studio: Seeing Sculpture In A New Light

Colourful hand-blown Czech Float Pendants by SkLO Studio reflect their surroundings. No two are the same. Photo:Adza Aubry

By Laura Goldstein

Dew Pendant in hand-blown Czech glass by SkLO Studio. Photo: Adza Aubry

As graceful as a multi-tiered necklace, orbs of suspended light compose a chandelier’s planetary system of handblown Czech glass. And in a single lighting pendant, an abstract drop of dew is captured in multiple layers when the glass is molten then attached to a brass armature. It’s a jewel-like sculptural pendant the likes of which  Mother Nature would surely approve.

“We emphasize the organic nature of glass and I try to honour the material in all my designs from lighting to accessories,” explains Karen Gilbert, co-founder of SkLO Studio from her California base near San Francisco.

A curated selection of SkLO Studio lighting and sculptural glass accessories are showcased at the SwitzerCultCreative showroom, 1725 West 3rd Avenue.

Although not originally a family business, “we have sort of turned it into one,” laughs Gilbert who is SkLO’s design director. Founded in 2009 with her husband, architect Paul Pavlak and brothers, Pavel and Petr Hanousek (the latter both based in the Czech Republic and oversee the glass-blowing team,) they  strive to bring the great history, tradition and quality of hand-blown Czech glass into 21st Century interior design and décor trends. In fact, they take their moniker ‘sklo’ from the Czech word meaning glass.

Karen Gilbert and Pavel Pavlak husband and wife design duo at SkLO Studio, California. Photo: Adza Aubry

“We really want to emphasize the craft of glass-blowing practiced by some of the best artisans in the world for SkLO and our aesthetic is one of subtlety and quiet beauty not overly designed pieces,” affirms Gilbert.

It’s not surprising to learn that Gilbert was originally trained in the crafts of metalsmithing and jewelry design with a penchant for intricate more delicate pieces. Combining those talents with drawing, painting and metal fabrication, she works with her husband who brings the larger architectural and sculptural structure of lighting pieces to fruition. The drape skirt 9 Chandelier consists of nine hand-blown pendants gathered together in a central brass skirt structure. The signature SkLO double-dipped, fire-polished mouths (where the glass leaves the blower’s pipe,) are each unique.

The Drape Skirt 28 Chandelier comprised of 28 hand-blown Czech glass orbs. Photo: Adza Aubry

The drape skirt 28 Chandelier is a waterfall of 28 stunning hand-blown pendants supported by a series of four consecutively smaller brass rings. It makes a resounding statement suspended from the ceiling over a multiple-storey stairwell. Electrical cord is fabric-wrapped and available in a variety of hues.

The Drape Skirt 9 Chandelier in dark oxidized finish with hand-blown Czech glass by SkLO Studio. Photo: Adza Aubry

Colourful float pendants do just that; hand-blown planets in slightly irregular one-of-a- kind translucent glass that by day, reflect the outdoors and by night, cast a subtle bewitching galactic glow.

Many of SkLO’s glass accessories trigger the imagination: wrap object is created from one sinuous length of handblown Czech glass and no two are exactly the same. Whether you see them as an elaborate sailor’s knot or a child’s twisted balloon object is up to the viewer. Join vessels are a kaleidoscope of colours and slightly distorted image: a fun-house of mirrors reflected in bottles. Two separate cylinders of glass in vibrant colours are fused together while hot. The top has an off-centre neck while the bottom cylinder is round with a polished edge. 

Join Vessels by SkLO Studio in a kaleidoscope of colours in hand-blown Czech glass have a slightly distorted image.Photo: Adza Aubry

“Women are becoming more and more interested in lighting design,” enthuses Gilbert. “I think I take it a step further because I also construct the prototypes that traditionally, have been a male domain,” she admits.

“We’ve been very busy working on our 2020 lighting debut at Light + Building in Frankfurt Germany one of the largest lighting fairs in the world and then Maison & Object in Paris,” says Gilbert. “In Europe they like to pair very modern lighting with furniture brands. Whereas in North America, clients are much more traditional in their tastes.

“It’s that difference in aesthetics that makes it a very interesting time for us!”

Wrap Object is created from a sinuous length of handblown Czech glass and no two are exactly the same. SkLO Studio. Photo: Adza Aubry

Posted in Contemporary, Contract/Hospitality, Design Community, Designer Showroom, Interior Design, Interior Design Show, Interior Design Showroom, Lighting, Luxury, Modern | Leave a comment

ARTISAN: “We Have Known Wood Our Entire Lives, From the Forest We Played In As Children”- Fadil Ćostović, Co-Founder

The Thor Daybed by Fahmida Lam for ARTISAN. Photo courtesy ARTISAN

By Laura Goldstein

Many entrepreneurial partnerships seem to begin serendipitously. Fadil Ćostović, a craftsman with a well-established family wood production business for over 60 years in Tešanj, Bosnia was constructing furniture and all the wood interiors for a summer house owned by Dražen Poznanović. 

The Neva Chair designed by the Regular Company, Bosnia for ARTISAN. Photo courtesy Artisan.

“Dražen was so happy with the design and quality of Fadil’s workmanship that the two decided to collaborate and formed ARTISAN in 2007,” relates the company’s vivacious sales manager, Armin Huremović from their workshop and factory/showroom known as Ćostović.

A curated selection of ARTISAN furniture will be showcased in the SwitzerCultCreative Booth #603 at the upcoming Interior Design Show, IDS-Vancouver, September 26th-29th at the Vancouver Convention Centre and the SwitzerCultCreative showroom, 1725 West 3rd Avenue.

In 2009 the ARTECO Wood Technology Centre was formed by ARTISAN to establish a new movement within the Bosnia-Herzegovina wood industry. Not content to solely rely on raw wood exports, their mandate was to develop the company’s expertise and infrastructure all in one place: from harvesting wood, cutting in their own sawmill, processing, design to final craftmanship and sales of the furniture. With zero waste, ARTISAN even recycles sawdust into pellets used for heating the workshop.

The WU Chair by Italians Fabio Damiani + Marco Quistini of Studio Pang for ARTISAN. Photo courtesy ARTISAN

“We began small but strategically by collaborating with a very select group of well -established international designers like German product designer, Michael Schneider and Germany was our very first foreign market,” Huremović explains. The WU Chair by Italians Fabio Damiani + Marco Quistini of Studio Pang for ARTISAN exemplifies a smooth wide joint detail in the seat while Canadian, (New York -based) product and furniture designer, Karim Rashid’s funky Cart Coffee Table is composed of two slim stems of solid elm with room for magazine storage between the two. 

Canada’s Karim Rashid’s funky Cart Coffee Table is composed of two slim stems of solid elm with room for magazine storage between the two. Photo courtesy ARTISAN

ARTISAN has been instrumental in developing and promoting Bosnian makers like award-winning The Regular Company: Their ergonomic Neva Chair and Neva Lounge Chair Trimmed available in solid oak, walnut, elm, maple, cherry, pear wood, has a tilted and arched back that flows into the armrests creating one continuous line. 

The BLOOP Coffee Tables Designed by Croations, Rudjer Novak-Mikulic and Marija Ruzic for ARTISAN. Photo courtesy ARTISAN

Like their name implies, The BLOOP Coffee Tables have a sense of humour all their own. Designed by Croations, Rudjer Novak-Mikulic and Marija Ruzic the low, solid wood oval tables have a balanced, but off-centre pedestal.

“It’s also very interesting for us to learn different country’s preferences in wood furniture styles,” Huremović explains. In Germany, for example, 90% of our chairs are upholstered in leather for clients while in France, clients prefer fabric upholstery.” ARTISAN has recently partnered with Danish textile company, Kvadrat the international purveyor of extraordinary fabrics for four collections of furniture.

Neva Lounge Chair Trimmed by the Regular Company for ARTISAN available in solid oak, walnut, elm, maple, cherry, pear wood, has a tilted and arched back. Photo courtesy ARTISAN.

“It’s extremely important to ARTISAN to discover and develop new relationships with designers early in their careers. For example,” says Huremović, “we saw emerging residential furniture designer, Fahmida Lam at ICFF in New York. We made the prototype for her Thor Daybed and now produce it in our workshop.”

“You know a healthy environment is not just about external things,” says Huremović. ARTISAN believes that furniture in our homes needs to start with natural materials too.”

Posted in Contemporary, Design Community, Designer Showroom, Interior Design, Interior Design Show, Interior Design Showroom, Luxury, Modern, Sustainable Home Furniture, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ZANAT Goes Back To The Future Producing Contemporary Furniture With Historical Wood Carving Techniques

The Ett Holm Hotel in Stockholm Sweden commissioned ZANAT for the Unna Chairs by Monica Förster for their dining area. Photo courtesy ZANAT

By Laura Goldstein

Orhan Niksic CEO and ZANAT co-founder. Photo: Jasmin Brutus

“There’s an emotional appeal to our brand and not just because our family has been producing hand-carved furniture since 1919,” says Orhan Niksic CEO and ZANAT co-founder, from his factory/showroom in Konjic, Bosnia.

A former senior economist with the World Bank, Niksic has parlayed a century-old family company based upon traditional hand-carving techniques, into a modern, design-forward business with emphasis on environmental sustainability and developing local Bosnian design talent in the global marketplace.

A curated selection of ZANAT furniture will be showcased in the SwitzerCultCreative Booth #603 at the upcoming Interior Design Show, IDS-Vancouver, September 26th-29th at the Vancouver Convention Centre and the SwitzerCultCreative showroom, 1725 West 3rd Avenue.

ZANAT (meaning “craft” in Bosnian,) has its roots with Orhan and brother, Adem’s great- grandfather who developed an intricate and highly ornate hand wood-carving technique in his village of Konjic. He even teamed up with other established furniture makers of the time to exhibit at fairs and exhibitions in Milan, Paris and at the 1900 Millennium Exhibition in Vienna. It’s a point of pride for his great grandsons that 100 years later, their furniture collections are still being showcased at international interior design shows.

The ZANAT showroom/factory in Konjic, Bosnia-Herzegovina. Photo: Jasmin Brutus

It was on vacation in 2013 on the beautiful island of Korcula in Croatia that the idea for ZANAT and giving the family business a new direction, was born. “With our friend, Mark Bartolini, we discussed how we could meld sustainability of wood from Bosnia’s abundant forests, good governance and job creation with a new vision for contemporary furniture collections. I was really disillusioned with the poor quality of craftsmanship on the market and I knew we could combine our traditional carving techniques with new designs without the quality suffering. They are not mutually exclusive,” says Niksic.

Monica Förster for ZANAT’s first Collection of Unna chairs and tables. Lacey carved leafs fit easily inside to extend the table. Photo courtesy ZANAT

It was no coincidence then, that Niksic approached Swedish furniture designer, Monica Förster for ZANAT’s first Collection of Unna chairs and tables. The antithesis of heavy furniture design once popularized in Europe, “Scandinavian designs are so sleek and elegant. Our lace-like hand-carved leaf extensions in oak, maple, cherry or walnut can even be created in a contrasting colour,” Niksic explains. 

Scandinavian architects Gert Wingårdh & Sara Helder designed the Tattoo Stools and Barstools for ZANAT. Photo courtesy ZANAT.

Scandinavian architects and product designers, Gert Wingårdh & Sara Helder designed the Tattoo Stools and Barstools for ZANAT. Their clean designs in maple have an exotic twist with peacock and pheasant abstract carvings on the seats. Finnish designer, Harri Koskinen’s Igman Lounge Chair & Ottoman boasts hand-carved designs on the solid wood arms and are upholstered in buttery vegetable-tanned top stitched leather.

British designer, Ilse Crawford from Studioilse packs a punch with her tactile Touch Sideboard for ZANAT. Photo courtesy ZANAT

British designer, Ilse Crawford from Studioilse packs a punch with her tactile Touch Sideboard for ZANAT. No two hand-carved surfaces of the multi-purpose storage cabinets are the same. Available in three and four-door versions, the legs are available in wood or cast-bronze versions.

ZANAT bespoke furniture commissions are sought after for hotels and restaurants including the Ett Holm Hotel in Stockholm, Hotel V Amsterdam, the Andaz Hotel in London.

Jasna Mujkic who also teaches at the Arts Academy in Sarajevo. designed the Quiet Chair with geometric hand-carved back. Photo courtesy ZANAT

The wood industry in Bosnia-Herzegovina is the largest and the strongest export in the region. One of ZANAT’s mandates is to mentor and promote Bosnian talent to the design world at large. “We have trained 20 new apprentices in our art of wood-carving and have affiliated ourselves with several design and technology programs offered at the University of Sarajevo,” Niksic explains. 

“For example, Jasna Mujkic who also teaches at the Arts Academy in Sarajevo. “Her Quiet Chair and Stool are classically elegant with subtly geometric carved patterns on the back rest. And, coming full circle, on December 6th, 2017, the small Bosnian town of Konjic and ZANAT’s birthplace was inscribed into the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in acknowledgement of the superior craftsmanship of the region. In celebration of that honour, ZANAT recently opened their own museum dedicated to the history of wood-carving. 

“You know, three years ago when we first exhibited in Milan, nobody knew us,” admits Niksic. “That’s one reason that we started partnering with some internationally established designers. But we have fantastic talent here in Bosnia and now when we participate at design fairs, buyers are coming to us.”

The bespoke boardroom table in multiple wood grains was designed and built by ZANAT for a client in Saudia Arabia. Photo courtesy ZANAT.

Posted in Contemporary, Contract/Hospitality, Design Community, Design Competition, Designer Showroom, Interior Design, Interior Design Show, Interior Design Showroom, Luxury, Modern, Sustainable Home Furniture | Leave a comment

In The Spotlight: ToTeM Family

Available as a floor lamp, a pendant light, or as a totemistic stackable system — discover more about the ToTeM Lighting Family from Aqua Creations.


Click below to watch Albi Serfaty, one of Aqua Creations Founders, talk about the ToTeM lighting family, featuring exclusive footage from Aqua’s New York showroom.



Click below to watch the making of ToTeM.

Still want to know more? Stop by the SwitzerCultCreative showroom at 1725 West 3rd Avenue, Vancouver BC to see the ToTeM Pendants in person and much more from Aqua Creations.

Browse the collection or read more about the ToTeM pendant lights, floor lamps, and stackable systems on our website 

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Meet the Clair End Table from Autonomous Furniture

Introducing ‘Clair’, she’s light and nimble but satisfyingly stable. A bit of edge but capable of handling the daily grind. Oh, and she’s gorgeous. Shown in scrumptious black walnut sporting an acrylic base.

Tailored heights available upon request, the Clair is the perfect mate to any living room chair or sofa. Designer Kirk Van Ludwig intended to create the perfect parking spot for a coffee or iPad. Available in Walnut (shown), whitened Ash, and torched Oak.

Light, however stable, take her to the bath should you wish. Clear and elegant make Clair usable in many decors.

Interior Design professionals are the back bone of Autonomous Furniture, allowing them the freedom to play with forms and materials, new designs and continuing to push forward. Without them, all this would not be possible.



Autonomous Furniture is designed and created in Victoria, BC. You can now find many of their pieces in the Switzercultcreative Showroom, with more to come in the Fall!

Come by and let us know what you think! 1725 West 3rd Avenue, Vancouver, BC.

View the collection on our website:


Posted in Contemporary, Design Community, Designer Showroom, Interior Design, Interior Design Showroom, Luxury, Modern, Sustainable Home Furniture | Leave a comment


At SwitzerCultCreative, we are passionate about creating opportunities to come together in community and to support craftspeople locally and around the globe. This year, we were delighted to take part in Crafted Vancouver as an Official Event Partner, hosting two events in our showroom.

Meet and Greet with local makers.

We hosted an open house meet and greet with some of our local designers and makers on May 25th. It was meaningful to spend time with new and old friends sharing what we do and our passion for quality sustainable design. Some of the local designers and makers in attendance were Jay Miron, Jason Klager, Nicholas Purcell, Robbie Farrell, David Ullock and Jake Johnston.

Connect Series by Robbie Farrell.

Kick Lounge Chair and Ottoman by Nicholas Purcell.

Fickle Trickle mixed woods and paint on custom panel by David Ullock.

You can view Jay Miron’s Franklin Dining table and Kern coffee table in the showroom. Jason Klager’s Vertex cubes are on display. Nicholas Purcell is showing his Sidekick Chair and Ottoman and Finn Side table. Robbie Farrell’s Connect Series as well as other new pieces are on view in the showroom. David Ullock and Jake Johnston’s unique and sustainably created wood-based art pieces are on display. Come by the SwitzerCultCreative showroom at 1725 West 3rd Avenue in Vancouver to view these handmade items and much more from local and international makers and designers.

Vertex Cube by Jason Klager.

The Kern Coffee Table by Jay Miron.

“Meticulous” by Jake Johnston.

Cedar basket weaving workshop.

On June 1, we hosted a cedar basket weaving workshop led by Jessica Silvey of Red Cedar Woman. Each participant made a cedar basket, using cedar sourced sustainably by Jessica and her husband Robert. Jessica also hand dyes cedar and other materials with berries found locally. It was an enriching and connecting experience to get hands on with this traditional craft. Jessica offers these workshops year-round.

Jessica Silvey of Red Cedar Woman.

Cedar basket and materials.

From time to time, we have events like these. If you have suggestions for events, please let us know. Join our newsletter list here:

Posted in Contemporary, Design Community, Designer Showroom, Interior Design, Interior Design Showroom, Luxury, North West Coast Aboriginal, Sustainable Home Furniture | Tagged | Leave a comment

With His Heritage of Makers Going Back 500 Years, Calgary Furniture Designer, Sumer Singh Innovates For the Future

By Laura Goldstein

The organic Plote and Prov Tables are made from a hand-molded plaster process invented in the 17th Century. Photo: MTHARU

Talk about pressure to succeed! When you come from a long line of artists, poets and authors, an engineering degree alone just didn’t cut it for Calgary’s Sumer Singh. His passion for the arts dictated his continuing education at ACAD and Vancouver’s Emily Carr University in jewelry and textile design, sandcasting and later earning a Masters in Architecture. The New Delhi- born maker formed MTHARU in 2013. “The name means ‘sword hilt maker’, the occupation of one of my ancestors and my first name was also my great-grandfather’s. He was a well-known artist in India and as a writer used that pen name, Singh explains. “The very foundation for everything I do comes from free-thinking, breaking boundaries, and pursuing honesty, whether it be in myself or in my creative process,” he confides.

Furniture designer, Sumer Singh researches like a scientist and mathematician then post-digitally, hand-sculpts many of his pieces. Photo: MTHARU

Sumer Singh’s MTHARU furniture is showcased at the SwitzerCultCreative showroom, 1725 West 3rd Avenue.

Heavily focused on digital technology when designing, Singh then integrates a myriad of sculptural techniques afterwards by hand, some based on ancient practices. Add a dash of mad scientist and you get his newest Plote and Prov Tables. Based upon a complicated geometry called Photogrammetry that enables Singh to make 3D models of an object on the computer from a sphere and a cylinder, machines and human hands later sculpt the tables. Using the technique known as scagliola the colouful veined material in which plaster mimics marble in both strength and appearance, was invented in Italy in the 17h century. It can be buffed and is more resistant to scratching than marble and also not as expensive. The results are highly durable pieces that resonate in the garden, on the patio and indoors. And, their colours are customizable in almost any palette.

One of his earliest designs, the Jouir Table is both curvaceous and streamlined. Photo: MTHARU

The Jouir Table one of Singh’s earliest designs, continues to be a classic in the furniture maker’s repertoire: a continuous role of curvaceous steel is embellished with welding “scars” using melted bronze. “It’s the scars that give us strength as people so why hide them?” he asks. The Sentric Table continues Singh’s exploration of welding scars but this time with black steel juxtaposed with shiny melted bronze for a striking contrast.

Singh was inspired by the geometry of ocean waves for his design of the translucent Del Mar Collection. Photo: MTHARU

The Del Mar Collection of tables and side tables simulates angular translucent ocean waves. Originally produced in smoked grey and rainbow-like dichroic glass they are also available in aluminum.

Fe is designed to be a stationery rocking stool made from a single sheet of steel and can be customized to fit beneath a kitchen counter, island or as a bar stool.

Fe is a comfortable rocking bar stool or can be customized to reach kitchen counters & islands. Photo: MTHARU

The prolific Singh has also delved into lighting with the Kamino Lamp. Sculptured from cement, latex and basalt, the organic floor or table lamp takes on the shape and patina of an archeological find. The Sagrada Pendants, resembling woven baskets, use energy efficient LED lighting and can be made in a variety of finishes including textured metal tone powder coat, black steel, copper or brass.

Solving complex mathematical problems combined with rigorous research into raw materials and finishes is Singh’s forte. He participated in New York City’s annual ICFF international furniture show in the Javits Center recently and has designed limited edition plant stands for West Elm and Fe Stools for Steven G. Interiors in Miami. 

 “I want to be constantly evolving,” says Singh. We’ve never been a company that was scared to try new things. Collectibles, not mass production is what’s important to us.”

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Juxtaposing Wood and Acrylic Elements, Kirk Van Ludwig Brings Drama Into The Home

The CB1 Table has a Western Maple top that appears to float in mid-air because of Lucite legs positioned underneath and affixed from the middle of the table. Photo: Autonomous.

By Laura Goldstein

Fashion rather than furniture has long been known to make political statements. But for Victoria-based designer/maker Kirk Van Ludwig of Autonomous, his Constantinople Table Set began as a metaphor for modern times: 

The Constantinople Table Set juxtaposes geometry, colour, wood and acrylic whether placed together or apart. Photo: Jo-Ann Richards

“Constantinople (now Istanbul) was an ancient city besieged by diversity and contradictions and I thought, why not create nesting tables distinctly different in geometry, colour and materials, that somehow co-exist just like people should,” Van Ludwig explains. A whitened Ash round tabletop sitting on three asymmetrical acrylic legs gets cozy with a torched brown Douglas Fir square, offset by two acrylic legs. The juxtaposition works. While beautiful separately, they make a bigger statement united. And, although we can’t promise it’s the answer to world peace, they certainly bring drama to our living spaces! 

Van Ludwig’s furniture is showcased at the SwitzerCultCreative showroom, 1725 West 3rd Avenue.

While Autonomous Furniture has become synonymous with a Pacific Northwest aesthetic, there’s always a sculptural twist that makes Van Ludwig’s pieces unexpected, such as the integration of acrylic into many of his wood pieces. Though not entirely an homage to the ‘70s, “I love it because it reminds me of the acrylic I saw as a kid in my parents’ home,” Van Ludwig laughs. “But, there’s a big difference as the museum-grade acrylic we use in our pieces is very durable (no scratches or clouding often found in ‘70s pieces,) and is actually very expensive. I love the way it lets the light through too.” 

Kirk Van Ludwig at work in his Victoria studio. Photo: Lia Crowe

The CB1 Table sports a Western Maple top the colour of caramelized sugar with striated grain on the bias. Lucite legs positioned underneath and strengthened from the middle of the table, give the illusion of floating in mid-air. Now that’s the ultimate legroom!

Born in Edmonton, Van Ludwig moved to Victoria in 2005. “When I started the company in 2013, I really wanted to turn the industry upside down,” he admits from his 2,500-square-foot showroom and studio. “I wanted to focus on excellent craftsmanship and materials and we even delivered to our local clients personally,” he says. Van Ludwig and his team prefer to concentrate on about 15 classic iterations that can be customized to clients’ preferences adding two to three new designs each year.

The versatile Tillikum Bench is topped with Douglas fir with a matte black frame and legs. Photo: Autonomous

Most of Van Ludwig’s raw materials are sourced from all over B.C. “Remaining loyal to family-owned woodlots, some owned for three generations, is important to me,” he says. “I like to go out and choose the timber myself like that used in the Tillikum Bench.” A floating seat in a light Douglas Fir with matte black frame and legs gives a modern Scandinavian look to an entryway. 

An unusual deviation from local sourcing is a large piece of Cedro, a fragrant cedar-like wood native to South America, left on a ship then made available to Van Ludwig. A pilot for a Russian super yacht has commissioned Van Ludwig to design and build a desk from the exotic wood that is most often used to make Spanish guitars. 

Is it an end table or sculptural art piece? The Clair End Table becomes both when Van Ludwig gives the sturdy museum grade acrylic base an oil & wax-finished black walnut tabletop. It’s a perfect fit when condo space is a concern.

The sculptural Clair End Table with walnut top on museum-grade acrylic is perfect for small condos. Photo: Autonomous

“You know, every furniture piece we make at Autonomous is debated, scrutinized, and tested,” he assures. “Is the bench the perfect height to put on ones’ shoes?  Can you jump on the bench?  Will the finish stand the test of time? Could the furniture piece be repurposed in the future?”

 Van Ludwig’s shop has been working in overdrive lately in anticipation of his furniture debuting at New York’s Wanted Design Manhattan May 18th-21st during NYCx Design Week. Autonomous was selected as 1 of only 10 designers across North America to showcase their work at this prestigious exhibition sponsored by Surface Magazine.

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