MEET OUR MAKERS: Portland, Oregon furniture and lighting designer Neal Aronowitz is on a roll with his Concrete Canvas Collection

By Laura Goldstein

Neal Aronowitz - Whorl Left 2017

The Whorl Table received the People’s Choice Award from the 2017 Azure Magazine AZ Awards. Photo: Miroslav Trifonov

Concrete is a much in vogue 2018 interior design trend for countertops, fireplace surrounds and floors. It’s incredibly durable and adds a textured look especially when juxtaposed with organic materials like wood and stone. But who could imagine that the heavy medium could be molded like a pretzel into curvaceous tables that actually add an elegant airiness in a room?

Portland, Oregon-based furniture and lighting designer Neal Aronowitz Design/Art has the magic touch, using ‘concrete canvas’ to create his eponymous line of furniture available at SwitzerCultCreative, 1725 West 3rd Avenue in Vancouver.

“I really wanted to make concrete fly like a flying carpet,” laughs Aronowitz from his studio in Portland. “I used to make concrete countertops in my tile and stone business in New York before moving to Portland 22 years ago. Later I stumbled on a website that showed a concrete material on a roll- like cloth, that could have a highly flexible application when water is added. I made about twenty-five sketches of furniture and many experiments with wood forms, then wrapped them in wet concrete canvas clamped in place for 24 hours. I finally had my eureka moment, The Whorl Table.”

Like a ribbon unspooling in the wind, The Whorl Table is both minimalist and sculptural and can be colour customized and finished. And, rather than leaving you cold like some industrial concrete products, it actually evokes an emotional response. It received the People’s Choice Award from the 2017 Azure Magazine AZ Awards.

“The process for the Concrete Canvas Collection is really labour intensive and a real challenge to work with – about 100 hours to make each piece,” Aronowitz explains. He hires an assistant to help maneuver the concrete canvas through many complicated steps. “Furniture of this type has never been produced before so I had to come up with new casting and forming techniques to perfect manufacture.”

Neal Aronowitz - Enso

The Ensō Table was Inspired by the sensual art of Japanese ink painting. Photo: Miroslav Trifonov

The Whorl Console won the 2017 Gray Magazine Award for Product Design and was announced by internationally acclaimed German industrial designer and a competition judge, Ingo Maurer, who happens to be one of Aronowitz’s design idols.

Inspired by the sensual art of Japanese ink painting, The Ensō Table is the embodiment of a brush making a single, swift, expressive stroke from which Aronowitz has re-interpreted into a wall- fastened console in concrete canvas and polished aluminum. The Japanese character it emulates symbolizes enlightenment and the Zen state of mind.

With its indoor/outdoor versatility, The Concrete Canvas Collection seems a perfect ornamental yet functional addition to a private garden or public landscape. In fact, a Whorl Table was commissioned for a lush private oasis in the Hamptons while his Todas Table in concrete canvas and Cor-ten steel was designed for the boutique Hotel San Cristobal in Todos Santos, Baja, Mexico.

Not a man to rest on his laurels, Aronowitz has also explored the realm of sculptural lighting. His Boro Boro Chandelier and Boro Boro Floor Light look like something you’d see in a futuristic home on the fictional planet of Krypton: a cluster of crystallized stalactites of frozen energy are made from frosted borosilicate glass tubes and rods. Boro Boro Chandelier was a runner-up in the 2016 LAMP International Lighting Competition held in Vancouver. And speaking of celestial skies, Aronowitz’s Synodic Sconce captures the phases of the moon through twenty-eight hand-blown glass globes arranged in an arched pathway over Black Galaxy Granite.

Neal Aronowitz - Boro 2 2017

The Boro Boro Chandelier is created from a cluster of crystallized stalactites of frozen energy made from frosted borosilicate glass tubes and rods. Photo: MK Photography

“I want to experiment with more lighting although the furniture is extremely time consuming,” admits Aronowitz. “I studied art in college and love working on sculptural, one-of-a-kind pieces rather than anything mass produced. I really feel I’ve found my true passion.”


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

MEET OUR (INTERNATIONAL) MAKERS: With a salute to the glamourous era of Art Deco, Israeli Furniture Designer, Hagit Pincovici brings Italian craftsmanship to Canada

by Laura Goldstein

Hagit Pincovicci With Cabinet 102

Hagit Pincovicci with “Cabinet 102” at the SwitzerCultCreative Showroom. Photo: Grace Lanuza

On Monday, May 28th,  acclaimed Israeli furniture designer, Hagit Pincovici visited the SwitzerCultCreative Showroom to launch her newest collections and engage guests with a talk on the origins of her design inspiration.

Her use of dramatic colour combinations continues to pervade her furniture and lighting creations, all hand-crafted in Italy. With her studio based in Brianza since 2014, Pincovici, a 3rd generation maker, has been on a whirlwind exhibition circuit from the Salone del Mobile, Milan then the ICFF (International Furniture Fair) in New York before touching down in Vancouver, her first appearance in Canada.

Hagit Pincovicci Marble Coffee Table

“From Above” Marble Coffee Table an abstract aerial landscape in wood and hand varnished. Photo: courtesy Hagit Pincovicci

SwitzerCultCreative, 1725 West 3rd Avenue in Vancouver is the exclusive purveyor of Hagit Pincovici Collections in Canada.

“I’m so impressed with Vancouver – it’s so peaceful and modern, and everyone jogs,” laughs Pincovici, who also found time to visit the Museum of Anthropology.

Pincovici fondly remembers her grandparents’ atelier in Tel Aviv where they produced furniture and home accessories molded from colourful Plexiglass. A graduate in Industrial Design from the renowned Bezalel Academy of Art & Design in Jerusalem, Pincovici worked her way up as head of product development for Aqua Creations in Israel, organizing their exhibition at the annual Salone del Mobile, in Milan. She decided to re-locate to Italy “where I fell in love with the Italian spirit of creativity,” she explains.

Hagit Pincovicci - Flamingo

“Flamingo” Is a sculptural side table or jewelry case with pivoting hidden drawer on thin brass legs. Photo: courtesy Hagit Pincovicci

“I’m really inspired by artworks of contemporary painters and even fashion designers,” says Pincovici sporting a cherry red silk pleated jacket by Issey Miyake. Her From Above Coffee Tables from the Metaphysics Collection resemble pinwheels of abstract landscapes from an aerial perspective. “I began by looking at British designer, Paul Smith’s amazing juxtapositions of colours in his clothing collections,” she confides. Pincovici said she is also influenced by the late modernist architect, Carlo Scarpa and his love for interlocking geometric shapes.

She likes to draw her designs by hand on huge pieces of paper mounted on her studio walls and will sometimes create 3D models of her furniture.

All Pincovici’s furniture calls to mind a distinctly Art Deco glamour; elegant, streamlined geometric pieces are finished with up to five layers of lacquer inspired by Japanese techniques, giving each piece an alluring luminosity. (Pincovici lived in Japan for five months between her academic years.) Many incorporate brushed brass and Marquina marble and are equally sculptural and functional. Some, like the Flamingo Side Table and new Cabinet 102, disguise her penchant for secret storage drawers not apparent at first glance. Her Eclipse Table Series envisages abstract moons in Carrara-veined marble with brass inlays on slim brushed brass legs. Winged End Tables from the new Intersections Collection combines elements from both her Metaphysics and Eclipse Collections to create a contrast of shapes, colours and materials on two attached yet distinct platforms. Pincovici’s collections are available in customized colours.

Her exploration into new lighting iterations led to Lampada 13 Wall Sconce,a luxurious architectural expression of a waning moon in hand-blown glass, Marquina marble and brass. A floor lamp is in the works.

Hagit Pincovicci - Lampada 13

Lampada 13 Hand-crafted in Italy, Lampada 13 is a luxurious wall sconce in brass, Marquina marble and hand-blown glass. Photo: courtesy Hagit Pincovicci

When she’s not working in her studio, Pincovici is also an instructor once a week at NABA (Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti,) in Milan. “I love teaching and guiding design students in their final year,” she explains.

“You know, I started with family and everyone I work with in Italy are also 2nd and 3rd generation in their trades. I have the greatest respect for the traditions of hand-made.”



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MEET OUR (LOCAL) MAKERS: Sholto Scruton melds tradition with modernity to create timeless furniture pieces built with respect for the environment

By Laura Goldstein

Sholto Scruton

The designer-maker, Sholto Scruton in his Strathcona studio in Vancouver.

The importance of cultural heritage, sustainability and the responsibility of the designer to contribute to a healthy environment are foremost in Sholto Scruton’s mind when he approaches furniture design. In conjunction with Vancouver Design Week, he’ll be speaking on these subjects on Saturday, May 12that 1:00 p.m. and showcasing his intricately crafted furniture at SwitzerCultCreative 1725 West 3rd Avenue in Vancouver.

“I tend to make things that are purposely built with an intention to solve a problem,” he explains from his workshop, Sholto Design Studio in the Strathcona area of Vancouver. “For example, right now I’m working on benches commissioned for the Canadian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale by Vancouver landscape architect Cornelia Hahn Oberlander. We just got the approvals but it’s built on uneven ground from the Napoleonic times so the benches have to be stabilized to accommodate the landscape.”

Sholto Scruton - SDS sfu science

One of a series of bench commissions for Simon Fraser University designed by Sholto Scruton.

For another project, he’s designing 53 jewellery cases for the Bill Reid Gallery from 16 cedar logs pulled from the Sunshine Coast that will honour Reid’s Haida culture. Scruton is collaborating with renowned Haida artist, Corey Bullpitt to ensure cultural authenticity on all of the work.

Born in Northern England into a family of furniture makers specializing in antique finishing (Sholto is a Gaelic name,) he’s a graduate of the Masters Program in Industrial Design at Manchester Metropolitan University. “I always thought I’d be working in plastics and metal,” he admits. Scruton immigrated and was raised in Northern B.C. and is married to Scandinavian graphic designer, Berit Hansen. “We come from cold places,” he laughs, “but the mix of cultures has shaped the way I design furniture to warm a space.”

Sholto Scruton - SDS emerald coffee table

The Emerald Coffee Table hewn from solid walnut or oak with a hexagonal parquetry wood top.

His Emerald Collection began when “I wanted something unique and thought of the ‘emerald cut’ of a gemstone.” Both the coffee table and side table, hewn from solid walnut or oak in a hexagonal parquetry wood top, “were designed to feel both light and strong, angular yet soft, organic and logical and hand-rubbed with non-toxic natural oil and wax finish,” Scruton explains. Legs are available in solid wood but conceived in plated rose gold, chrome or brass instills a really modern vibe to the piece as a whole.

His rectangular Emerald Dining Table available in three sizes (or custom,) has been in great demand at Canadian Embassies and private residences in Barcelona, Brussels, Hanoi and Tanzania to name only a few.

Sholto Scruton - SDS emerald dining table

The Emerald Dining Table by Sholto Shuton has been a popular commission for international Canadian consulates.

“I first built the Emerald Credenza for my wife who wanted something in which to store files, says Sholto. “But then I thought, ‘why not a beautiful cabinet that could also store records, a wine rack and even as a bar?’” And voila! Like a magician’s box, the sleek cabinet, assembled with light-reflecting mortise and tenon joints in white oak, walnut, black oak or fir, cleverly conceals the aforementioned options. Should you choose the cocktail service, The Emerald Credenza top opens to reveal a cutting board and compartments for all your bar-tending needs.

Teaching the business side of industrial design part-time at the Wilson School of Design at Kwantlen Polytechnic in Richmond, Scruton hopes he can impart a sense of social responsibility through sustainability and good manufacturing process to his students.

“I like to practice what I preach,” he says of the importance of durable, easily repairable furniture over trendy throw-away products.

Instilling those values in his students also includes his 7-year-old son, Finn who is already handy with a hammer and drill and has built his first chair.

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

by Laura Goldstein

Jason Klager - 021 Klager 2013

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.

Ivan Portrait

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

Jay Miron - Jay Miron

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.”

Jay Miron - Kern Dining Table

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.

Jay Miron - Drafting Table

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

Russell Hackney - 4

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.

Russell Hackney

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.

Jessica Silvey 3

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.

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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.

Anyuta Gusakova - Canadian Legend

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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