Sep 22, 2014

Product of the Week: Revolution Design House Madison Candle

The Madison Candle is a witty, contemporary take on an age-old silhouette. The candle, as well as the base itself, is cast in wax and designed to melt to within an inch of the bottom, making it safe to place anywhere. Portland's Revolution Design House has turned to Kickstarter to make this cool-looking product a reality. We only have until October 19 to show our support, so let's light this campaign up, guys!

Visit the Kickstarter page here

Images courtesy of Revolution Design House. 

Sep 18, 2014

Vancouver's First Official Design Week: What to Expect

As the design magazine for the Pacific Northwest, we’re always excited to hear about new design-related events happening in our region. But excited is an understatement for what we felt when we learned about the inaugural Vancouver Design Week. GRAY is proud to be a media partner for the two-week showcase, which runs through September 28, and we reached out to director Jennifer Cutbill to get the scoop behind her decision to launch VDW.

Vancouver Design Week Co-Director Jane Cox and Director Jennifer Cutbill

First of all, tell us about Vancouver Design Week. What should people expect?

Vancouver Design Week is the city's first ever citywide and trans-disciplinary design event. It is a platform for showcasing the amazing talent we have here in Vancouver (that too often goes overlooked or undervalued), as well as an invitation to the entire city to immerse itself in design across multiple disciplines. It is also a call to action for designers, design-thinkers, and all who live in and love this city, to discover what design is and how it can improve the quality of life of our city—today and throughout the future.

At VDW, people can expect to engage design like they never have before with talks, tours, workshops, exhibitions, awards, and parties, but also through less-expected programming like Open Studios, Samplings, and various design pop-ups across the city. It will be a chance to peek behind the curtain of designers’ processes and perspectives, to celebrate what makes Vancouver design unique and valuable, and to engage the whole city in conversation about what design is, what it can do, and why it is so vitally important!  

What made you decide to tackle the task of starting a design week in Vancouver?

Initially I had not intended to set out on this path. With a background in art history, architecture, regenerative design, climate change policy, and systems ecology, my focus had been more on how we solve the truly gnarly problems we face as a city and as a society. It is increasingly clear that these problems will not be solved by any single design discipline, but rather by collaborating across multiple disciplines. It also seems clear that we need to start by finding ways to break down current barriers and radically shift the conversation and culture if we hope to solve them. Design Week seemed to offer a strategic means to engage more people in the conversation to (hopefully) really shift the needle.

How do you think this will affect the design community in Vancouver? What are your hopes for how it can help designers?

My hope for Vancouver Design Week is that it can become a platform for connecting designers across disciplines, for spotlighting unique talent and innovation, and for ultimately shifting not just the conversation but for shifting mindsets and shifting values so we can leverage lateral thinking and design agency to inspire investment in design and its incredible potential.  
Design is not just a noun, but a powerful verb and vehicle for realizing meaningful change and holistically improving the quality of life in this city (and beyond), and I am hoping Vancouver Design Week can help us—as a city and a latent design culture—realize our full potential.

What are some highlights of VDW? What are you most excited for?

We have a fantastic lineup of events ranging from talks and tours to parties and pop-ups to exhibitions and studio tours. There are exciting special Vancouver Design Week editions of some already-loved events such as Pecha Kucha Night, Creative Mornings, Designer of the Year Awards, Party4Architects, Built City Speaker series, Modern Home tours and IDSWest's full event programming.  In addition, we are also excited about several new events, including the inaugural Mayor's Vancouver Urban Design Awards; an Architecture for Breakfast speaker series to leverage greater design agency; creative leadership workshops from THNK; design-thinking studios from Briteweb and others; an interactive pop-up exhibition plus public party at the MOV called “Why I Design,” focusing on process and local innovation; hands on prototyping at Makerlabs; and a range of other new creations.  

And within this broad spectrum we are especially excited about our three VDW signature events: Open Studios, Open Buildings, and Samplings (the latter is like a design-insider version of Dine Out Vancouver)—all open doors focusing on immersing the public in design process and practice and exchanging perspectives between and across disciplines.

Is this architecture and interior design-focused, or are there other types of design highlighted as well?

Vancouver Design Week runs the gamut from architecture and urban design through to graphic design, web, communications, industrial, gastronomy, fashion, landscape, creative leadership, and everything in between.

So there is something for everyone, and an unparalleled chance to join in, speak up, and stand out for design in Vancouver! 

Image by Sergio Vara.

Sep 17, 2014

Room of the Week: Vanglo Sustainable Construction Group

Category: Kitchen
Location: Vancouver

Goal: When this Commercial Street home was passed on from one generation to the next, the owners came to Vanglo Sustainable Construction Group, asking them repurpose the interior space to better suit the needs of a young professional couple. “Design stipulations included full data capability in all rooms, an integrated entertainment system, and a comprehensive high-specification kitchen,” notes Martin Warren, founder of Vanglo. “Clean lines allowed for a design that will need minimal maintenance in the future. It was intended that the end result would be entirely unrecognizable from the original living space.”

Inspiration: Working with interior designer Donna Toppings, the Vanglo team sought to give the clients a clean, modern space they could use as a canvas for their own personalities.

Breakdown: After the team removed interior walls on the main floor, an open-plan living room area was arranged around this prominent chef’s kitchen with an 11-foot island topped with a Caesarstone counter that cascades to meet the floor. A Bosch wine fridge and dishwasher are tucked in the island, making for easy clean-up and party prep. Sleek Sistemalux Micro Titan LED lights hang over the counter and Lucia barstools from Furnitura Interiors add a hint of natural warmth against the gray, high-gloss painted wood cabinetry.

Tips to Get the Look: “Space planning is key,” Warren says. “Look at the bones of your interior and consider opening up the rooms where possible. The more time you spend on space planning, the more money you will save in the end and the happier you will be. Nothing can take the place of a good plan.”

Image Courtesy of Vanglo Sustainable Construction Group.

Sep 15, 2014

Product of the Week: Union Wood & Supply Firewood Carrier

We are seriously ready for fall, and this firewood carrier and stand by Vancouver's Union Wood & Supply Company is seriously inspiring a call to action to find a cozy fireplace, stat. It's really a clever design---combining the carrier and a stand is just the kind of innovation that you would expect to come out of the Northwest. We're picturing this in our dream cabin right now.

Images courtesy

Sep 12, 2014

5 Questions For: Rachel Ravitch, jewelry designer

Name: Rachel Ravitch
Title: Designer
Company: Rachel Ravitch

Which of your designs or projects are you most excited about right now and why?
I'm currently collaborating with designers April Pride and Vanessa Lang. With April Pride, I have created a line of python jewelry. It was totally April's idea to use python. We are using unglazed python, which is less common. The scales create an incredibly beautiful texture and look like thousands of tiny gemstones on the surface of the pieces. With Vanessa Lang, I have incorporated porcelain with my classic lambskin jewelry. Porcelain, like lambskin, is both durable and lightweight. There is a sense of frailty and longevity in both. The silhouettes we have created really take advantage of the materials. 

Tell us three words that embody your design philosophy.
Function. Flexibility. Interaction. 

What's your favorite place in the Pacific Northwest and why?
I am in love with the northern part of the coastline in Washington. It's just a magical place. You have these old-growth forests running into the ocean. It's just breathtaking. I spend several days there in the wilderness camping every summer. 

Who or what are you inspired by right now?
I just moved into a new studio, which feels amazing. It has 10-foot ceilings, enormous windows, and fir floors. I'm so inspired by this space. I now have the space to make just about any project feasible, which is just about the most inspiring thing ever. 

What do you think of the color gray?
Gray is the meeting place between two extremes—white and black. White is the absolute absence of color. It needs light to be seen in its purest form. Black is a mix of all the colors. Its tone is unaffected by light. Gray represents the place in between these two states—it relies on both the absence of and presence of every color. 

Photo by Ayaka Tanabe.

Sep 10, 2014

Party Pages: Seattle Design Festival Block Party

This year, Seattle Design Festival invited designers from around the city to participate in the SDF Rumble, a collaborative brainstorm of ideas that would eventually become large-scale, instructive installations in Occidental Square, the heart of Seattle's Pioneer Square neighborhood. Nine teams assembled, each with a group of designers, a contractor and an activity partner such as Hub and Bespoke, Parkour Visions, and Tarboo Inc. Coming together for meetings in the months leading up to the festival, each team worked under an overarching subject (information, material, performance, science, digital technologies, the body, mind, transportation, and pop-up!) to create an installation channeling the theme Design in Motion. We stopped by the party on Saturday to check out the final installations, watch the public interact, and celebrate living in a city that loves great design. 

Images by Alexa Helsell.

Room of the Week: Brian Paquette Interiors

Category: Living Room
Designer: Brian Paquette, Brian Paquette Interiors
Location: Seattle

Goal: The clients, a creative husband-and-wife team living in Seattle’s Tangletown neighborhood, loved their modern house, but wanted a relaxed, Moroccan-inspired living room where they could hang out with friends. Being located between the dining room and kitchen, the living room receives a lot of foot traffic and is a main gathering place when people visit.

Inspiration: Interior designer Brian Paquette took inspiration from a Moroccan-inspired house that Roman and Williams decorated for actress Kate Hudson.

Breakdown: After removing the carpet and replacing all light fixtures throughout the house, Paquette united the pieces with a sophisticated color palette of black, cream, and various grays. “The décor could do well in really bright light but also really dim lamplight, or with candles,” he says, “and that was really important. They entertain a lot.” A Lawson Fenning chair custom upholstered in a light gray Pindler fabric (the custom bolster is Kerry Joyce textiles) fabric was the anchor piece for the room—much of the décor was chosen around that piece. The black leather Chesterfield-style sofa is from Restoration Hardware, and the layered rugs are from West Elm (larger rug) and Totokaelo (smaller rug). The coffee table is from Morocco.

Tips to Get the Look: “Go slow,” Paquette says. “Be intentional and find that one piece that rounds out the whole room and decorate around it, whether it be art of a piece of really great furniture.”

Images courtesy of Brian Paquette Interiors.