Uninterrupted sea views, great light, a scenic landscape and a favourable climate.
Observing the sun-kissed, easy going couple Rob and Gina McClelland at their holiday home at Grotto Bay Estate in South Africa, you would be forgiven for thinking this couple leads a life of leisure. But Rob and Gina, both former models, have traded life in front of the lens for one behind the camera at their beach breakaway house that doubles as a photo still production house.
The couple have learned to balance the demands of the 500+ photoshoots that have been done on the property with spending quality time with their two young daughters, Meeca (11) and Hannah (7), as well as their three furry friends.
Because their work is so seasonal, winter affords the family extended escapes to their beachside farm further up the West Coast in the more remote Elands Bay, where they spend their time surfing, paddle boarding and biking. “We love the West Coast. It is a really special place where you have the sense that there is an adventure to be had,” says Rob. “There is a wildness to it that some of the other coastal areas such as False Bay don’t have anymore. Plus the off shore winds make for great surfing conditions.”
The McClelland’s main seaside property is on Grotto Bay Estate on the West Coast just 45 minutes from Cape Town, which forms part of the Cape West Coast Biosphere reserve. Besides the spectacular setting of the site, perched on a strandveld-covered sand dune, the plot also had pragmatic advantages. Because of the location of the bay it allows something that few other locations along the West Coast have—the ability to orientate the house to the north without compromising on the sea and sunset view.
“Climatically, it makes the most sense in the southern hemisphere to orientate a building toward the north, which means you get good light but not the severe heat of an east–west orientation,” Rob explains. “I envisioned a house that would take a progressive step back to let it as much northern light as possible and to maximize the sea views.” While the estate is governed by an aesthetic building code that allows for three styles of houses, Farm-style, West Coast style and Beach style, Rob knew right from the start that he wanted to create a contemporary clapboard-clad timber construction house that oozed calm, carefree seaside living.
Rob approached architectural designer Alan Paine of Logo Homes to translate his vision into an award-winning design. His ideas for the house didn’t end there. He wanted an unusual sloping freeform, rim-flow pool, which creates the illusion that pool and ocean merge at the edge. But this proved quite a challenge to realize.
“When I explained this idea to pool people they just gave me a blank stare, so I ended up designing and building the pool myself,” he says. “Their only advice for constructing a pool above ground was to pack sand bags to support the structure. I got a building team to construct a steel armature in the shape of the pool, filled it in with concrete and finished it in this sandy colour.”
Due to the estate’s aesthetic guidelines that restrict building heights to six metres, the main living spaces benefit from a lofty double volume, giving them an airy feel, while additional guest bedrooms are tucked upstairs in the roof space. The all-white painted floors and walls contribute a sense of seamless openness, with stack doors opening up on to wooden decks fringing the house.
Instead of defaulting to the traditional blue and white colour palette that is pervasive in holiday homes on the West Coast, the couple sought to reflect the context and natural veld of the surroundings. Layers of white are punctuated with the textures of wood in all its forms, from wind-worn and weathered to honed and handcrafted and more finely finished. Woven grass and rattan furnishings contribute to animate the blank canvas.
The McClellands also acquired an extra piece of land behind the house, which allowed them to add a guest cottage a short distance from the main living space. This also allowed Rob the freedom to renovate and expand the house. He moved the kitchen into an old bedroom and converted the garage into an additional two bedrooms. The new kitchen opens up to the morning sun, making it a favourite perch for Rob.
“Because we are on a slope it means when you’re standing at the kitchen counter you are eye-level with the landscape of fynbos, and if you sit on the other side you can bake in the morning sun like lizard with a view of the sea,” he enthuses.
The family’s casual laid-back manner permeates their comfortable beachside house which has clearly been built to maximize the opportunity to experience the special qualities that continue to draw the McClellands to the West Coast—and, in the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, to “Live in the sunshine, swim the sea; drink the wild air’s salubrity.”
It’s a refuge, a retreat, a rest stop. But the bathroom can be more than a multifunctional space—it can also be stunningly beautiful. Matching square, coloured ceramic tiles with fixtures in pink, avocado or harvest gold is fun and retro, but today we can do almost anything.
Try something new
Sometimes a design trend comes along that we love, but feel reluctant to adopt on a large scale. Bathrooms can be a great place to incorporate a bold new design with wonderful fixtures. The good news is that, as a private space, it doesn’t necessarily have to match the rest of the home, so you can be brave, brace and try something different.
Today, we’re seeing these very personal spaces getting special treatment with more vivid, exclusive surface materials and lighting. From high reflectance to dark tones, be as functional, as vivid or as airy as you like.
The biggest change we’re seeing at the moment is in the use of patterns—watch for intricate fret work on vanities and elegant wallpapers.
Vanity, thy name is complicated
Thankfully we’re getting away from mass produced, big-box store vanities and leaning towards custom-built, detailed cabinetry. Deep drawers, custom colours and open shelves offer family members both utility and beauty.
Choose rich, dark shades to create the perfect base for your new dramatic palette. Consider splurging on expensive wallpaper in the same dark shade. Find patterns that have a hint of glimmer or a subtle reflective quality. Such effects are on trend right now, and just need some light to make them shine.
Bright and beautiful
I’m a firm believer in layered lighting, especially in the bathroom. It can change everything from functional to glamorous. Installing pot lights (even just one) in the ceiling is a good upgrade. That crisp downlight is a great way to light surfaces. If it’s not possible, then select an attractive ceiling fixture.
Avoid flycatchers (those upside-down “dishes” that light up the ceiling instead of what’s below, and are a good source of dead flies). Chandeliers bring sophistication, set reflective surfaces shimmering and add a touch of glam.
In addition, add cross-illumination or side lights, such as pendant lights that hang on either side of the mirror or wall sconces. This type of lighting will help to evenly illuminate your face and eliminate shadows, so it’s good for grooming.
A reflection of you
Mirrors offer style and shine, as well as being functional. Whether an entire wall is covered in antiqued mirrored subway tiles, or you prefer a single reflection point above the vanity, mirrored surfaces double the drama of a room. Hint: Make sure there is always something interesting for the mirror to reflect, such as framed artwork.
When it comes to flooring, there are so many great choices available. From travertine to marble and the great impersonator, porcelain, almost any impermeable surface is an option. Use real stone or the latest in high-quality vinyl—you’ll be amazed how far the styles and patterns have come. Try creating an inlaid “carpet” with floor tiles to add some pizazz.
Don’t be afraid to use high-gloss tiles. Shiny doesn’t always mean slippery, but if that is a concern then choose smaller tiles with bigger grout lines. And don’t forget to think about how your floor feels underfoot. Radiant floor heating is a delicious feature for our feet!
The latest upgrades
From steam showers to inset medicine cabinets, look for ways to make your bathroom more efficient, hard-working and health-focused. Upgrading your bathroom will be the second-most important investment in your home (after the kitchen). Both offer a 100 per cent return on investment when it comes to selling, and even if you aren’t putting your house on the block, an updated bathroom will give you a retreat to call your own.
With more than 40 years at the forefront of the design industry, London-based Kelly Hoppen MBE is one of the most celebrated and sought-after interior designers in the world. As a teenager, it was her relentless passion for design that kick-started her iconic career. Her first commission, to design a family friend’s kitchen, was the start of an incredible career that has included an award from the Queen, numerous home furnishing and accessories lines, books and even an appearance on Dragon’s Den. Architectural Digest has called her the “Queen of Taupe.” We asked Kelly if she still sees the world in neutral palettes.
Q) You’re known for having started designing at the age of 16. Are you still easily inspired?
Kelly: Having been in the design industry for more than four decades now, I’m still as excited about design as I was when I first started. My design ethos has always remained the same because trends aren’t something I have ever relied on. Clean lines, neutral colour palettes and harmonious design create that timeless, luxury feel of my projects.
Over the years, I have travelled the world and been fortunate enough to be inspired by the wonderful people, cultures and designs I’ve discovered. These experiences have contributed to my projects. Travel is, by far, still my most inspiring tool.
Q) Do you approach each new design project in the same way?
Kelly: Every assignment is different, and every single day is non-stop from the moment I wake up. I love and am proud of what I do, so it’s easy to put all my effort into it. I work equally hard on everything. From my interior projects to my products and collaborations, they’re all so different and unique.
Q) How can I make my home my own?
Kelly: Be passionate and fearless—but, as I always say, don’t overdo trends. Keep things individual and classic. It’s not about how much you have, but about how happy and comfortable you are with the space you live in.
Q) What sort of design projects interest you the most right now?
Kelly: We have many brilliant commercial and private projects on the go. My portfolio varies from private homes to yachts, jets and luxury resorts all over the world. I am now enjoying focusing on some unique commercial projects, including hotels (my most recent being LUX* Grand Gaube), bars, restaurants, offices and tower blocks.
Q) Of all the incredible things you have done and achieved in your career, your appearance in the Ab Fab movie caught my eye. What are your own personal highlights?
Kelly: I have had some incredible moments in my career, but my proudest so far was receiving an MBE from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in 2009 for services to the interior design industry.
Otherwise, as a designer, it’s always amazing when you’re working on something that’s conceptually unusual. For instance, working with Celebrity Cruises was revolutionary for me because I was invited to redesign the entire ethos of ocean luxury. We wanted to capture the escapism of a sea voyage and the sense of being on a cruise, whilst also providing the kind of urban luxury you can find in Miami or Hong Kong.
Another completely unique project was redesigning the first-class cabins for British Airways. Again, it was about working with a quite different, constrained space and transforming it into something beautiful, comfortable and luxurious. I had to consider weight, space and safety in completely new and unexpected ways. It challenged some preconceived notions of luxury and design, and forced a delightfully unexpected outcome.
Q) How has new media changed the design world?
Kelly: Technology is a huge part of modern life and has made it much easier to reach millions of people in a very affordable way. My Design Masterclass, for example, is a unique platform that is available on Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Roku, as well as online. It comes with a branded app so you’re able to switch between devices and carry on from where you left off—which is extremely handy when you’re on the go or travelling!
Having access to the internet means that anyone interested in design—no matter what their level of experience—can gain immediate insight into the design world, what it has to offer and how it can change their lives. Online platforms such as Pinterest allows homeowners to really explore and form their own unique style; they can see how to layer colours, experiment with textures and explore a variety of furnishing options. I think this helps people to build confidence in their ability and designs, while keeping things personal.
Being present across a variety of media platforms allows me to feel closer to my customers and fans; I’m fortunate to have a very loyal online community. With access 24/7, it also means that I can have direct dialogue and feedback from people from around the world, which is really encouraging for me and my work!
Q) Tell us about a project that you’re in the midst of working on.
Kelly: Over the last couple of years, I have really had a lot of fun creating my furniture ranges and finding ways to layer textures and colours, which has become a big part of my lines. My instinct told me to do it and now, in 2018, it’s worked out well. It’s a trend!
Q) You’ve got many product lines, your design business, your Master-classes, your books. Is there anything you’d like to do that you haven’t yet? Are there clients that you would like to work for?
Kelly: I would love to design a luxury train. It would be an exciting challenge to create that degree of comfort in a small space. There are of course challenges with every project and this is something to embrace and take on positively. This sort of project would provide a great sense of achievement and such a challenge is vital for any designer to grow and learn.
Q) What current design trends do you love?
Kelly: Trends will always fade. Quite frankly, what’s in vogue has really been replaced by an absolute freedom to do what you like. My style is timeless, and that is the sense that I want to create within every single project I take on. I find it rather invigorating and refreshing to see such a huge variety of colours, textures, shapes and sizes in today’s fashion and design. Using different shades of woods, especially darker wood tones to create retro glamour through furniture and finishings, seems to be growing more popular, as well as a focus on a variety of textures and finishes. Raw materials such as rattan and wicker create a handmade feel that is also irresistible.
Q) Are you still the “Queen of Taupe” or does colour interest you more now?
Kelly: Since the beginning of my career, I’ve been known for my love of neutral colour palettes. They’re central to my design philosophy, which always results in fantastically elegant and timeless spaces. Now, however, I do love to complement neutrals with great accents of colour, which can transform a room and change the mood.
Q) What’s your favourite room in your own home?
Kelly: I love my whole house, but I really adore the open-plan living area. It was always my absolute dream to find a space like this and, let me tell you—it’s not easy in London! My home is designed around four enormous arches, which really give structure to the space, and the light is fantastic. My bedroom also has the most perfect comfortable feel to it, and a great view out over the main area of the house.
Kelly recently collaborated with Tess Daly to launch their limited edition TRUST candle, in aid of The Prince’s Trust. She is also an ambassador for Cool Earth, working alongside charity patron Dame Vivienne Westwood to help stop rainforest destruction and halt climate change.
Timothy Oulton’s beginnings in furniture started in the late ’70s at a small antiques shop that was owned by his dad. Profoundly influenced by his love of antiquities, his father’s military background and an inherent affection for British heritage, Tim has spent the past few decades handcrafting his iconic furniture and design brand—a coalescence of old and new. Homefront caught up with Oulton after the recent opening of his flagship London store, in the historic Bluebird Garage on the storied King’s Road in Chelsea.
Q: How did starting as an antique dealer influence the style of the furniture you design today?
Timothy: I’ve always loved antiques, but design has to be relevant and with antiques there’s no creative process. With our designs, we borrow ideas from the past but we give them our own point of view, and that’s what makes them modern and relevant. Everything is handcrafted using traditional methods and authentic materials—hand-distressed leathers, reclaimed timbers, pieces that are built to last and materials that actually get better with age.
Q Is your fascination more with what’s old or what’s new?
Timothy: What I’m really fascinated by is the colliding of old and new—those two worlds should come together to make something fresh and exciting. Vintage never dies because it has a story and that’s what draws people, so it will always be a big influence for us—whether it’s in the design or the materials. Our signature is to put our own modern twist on whichever piece we are working on.
We borrow ideas from the past, but we blend them with a modern sensibility. Our pieces are reconceived from a modern perspective using only the best traditional techniques and fabrications. I like to talk about Gyro Crystal, a rococo chandelier.
As pretty as it is, a chandelier is boring on its own—but whack it in a cage and it becomes something else. Design has to be relevant and interesting for today.
Q You’ve created a Passivhaus Dome Home, and an office space in a refurbished factory inspired by a camera shutter and a Chinese lantern. Do your clients or the space lead your ideas?
Timothy: It seems to depend on the project and what we’re given to work with. With the Dome Home, our aim was to create a prototype for a modular building that could be transported anywhere in the world. For the office, we wanted to infuse the owner’s effervescent character and humour into the space, so we came up with a lantern-like private office suspended in mid-air, with a door inspired by a camera shutter.
Truly, it always comes down to creating a visceral experience, whether we’re designing a piece of furniture or an entire space. Luxury is not about “things.” Rather, it’s about exploring experiences and giving them meaning and connection. That’s what we always focus on.
Q You now have more than 40 stores internationally and recently opened your new headquarters at the famous Bluebird Garage in Chelsea. That must be exciting.
Timothy: Certainly! The Bluebird was originally a celebrated Art Deco legendary innovator and racing driver Sir Malcolm Campbell, so it’s got stories! I’ve always loved the building, so when the opportunity came up we knew it was the perfect place.
We’d been looking to take on a London landmark for our flagship for a long time and we plan to become part of the community here. Chelsea has such a rich heritage of art, culture and design—you think of the King’s Road and you think of Sid Vicious, Malcolm McLaren, Vivienne Westwood—everyone used to talk about the King’s Road. They still do, so we expect the Bluebird to be not only a great furniture destination but also a unique backdrop—a new place to connect with people or host a fabulous party.
QYour design portfolio is extensive and growing. How do you work with your design team?
Timothy: Working with my team is a collaborative effort between a group of great people who are extremely passionate about everything that we do collectively. My daily time is usually spent between the design room and the workshops, where I oversee all of our production.
Q Why do you work a lot with vegetable-dyed fabrics?
Timothy: With our Noble Souls range, we wanted to create a sofa collection using only pure, natural materials. Everything is made by hand, at human scale, using simple, time-honoured techniques. For me, it’s all about rediscovering and understanding how the things that come into our lives were actually made: The effort, the passion and the beauty.
In this case, the dyes we use are extracted from plants through a simple fermentation process andthen mixed with water. It’s an ancient practice and completely natural. We use indigo for the blue tones—one of the oldest plant-extract dyes in the world—and we use gallnut to create the grey hues. It’s a past-meets-present approach.
Q What gives you the greatest satisfaction?
Timothy: Talking to people who have loved one of our designs enough to take it home and make it part of their everyday life. We once had a couple who both fell in love with our Shabby sofa. The man said he proposed when he realised they’d never fight over furniture like most couples do! I love to hear stories like that.
Q Does London still excite and inspire you, or do you look elsewhere?
Timothy: I get inspired everywhere! In London, I’ve always loved the V&A and the British Museum—they’ve got amazing collections. I always do the flea markets too, as they’re a huge source of good ideas—the Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen in Paris, and there are a couple of big ones in the UK that I like to wander through. I never walk away without something; I’ve bought a whole sofa just so we could take the studs off. (After I’d done that, I turned around and gave the seller the sofa back. He must have thought I was mad!)
Really, in our world, inspiration can come from so many places. It could be an LP cover: Those Pink Floyd designs and Rolling Stones covers are iconic.
Q Many of your designs are based around entertaining: Dinner parties or games nights. What’s a night at your house like?
Timothy: I love to entertain, but the mood is always very casual. Of course, you should have great food and wine, but for me and the brand, it’s more about the people, the atmosphere and engaging all of the senses—and when the senses take over, you’re done!
Some of my most enjoyable dinner parties have been with our customers. We’ve done a few in New York and LA. Often, it’s just a small group—people from all walks of life, swapping different perspectives across the table. And we also get together regularly at the Lychee Garden, which is near where the design team live. If we are at home on the weekend then I love to do a roast dinner. Hosting is really at the heart of everything we do as a brand.
With an inherent affection for British heritage, Tim has created an authentic, visionary brand with the deepest integrity and a passion to deliver the extraordinary. Handcrafted with only the best
traditional techniques and fabrications, each Timothy Oulton piece is inspired by the past, but reconceived from a modern perspective, producing uniquely authentic collections that push the boundaries of furniture design.
My office is wherever I happen to be: In the car, at home or the design studio—basically, wherever my phone is. It’s hard to ignore how many of us are following the shifting trend toward working part- or full-time from home. As a designer, I’ve discovered many factors that can help to make your home office a productive and beautiful place to work.
By Jane Lockhart
Let’s take a look
Today’s wireless technology allows us to work from almost any room, but I suggest you pick one and make it yours. I always recommend setting a home office up in a room with a door that closes and locks, rather than at the dining-room table or in an open-concept loft or basement. For business calls and for concentration, it’s best to have a door for privacy. If you need to share a space, try to make it the guest room or a place that isn’t occupied by others during the day.
The size of the room isn’t as important as how functional it is. Organization is key, and the way to stay productive is by adding proper storage. Having a place to put everything can help to contain clutter and keep your mind focused on what’s important. You’ll need organization systems for paper, and cord/cable management to tame that tangle under your desk. Many office stores carry solutions for tidying computers and supporting tech, but I think that custom built-in cabinetry is the best way to go for storage. When it’s purpose built, every one of your needs can be addressed and interpreted into good-looking yet practical places to keep things.
After all, if you’re going to spend unlimited hours in a space, why not make it functional and beautiful? Your personal style can also carry through into your office from the rest of your home, or you can create a unique, personal space that makes you happy just to be in it.
Light it up
Good lighting is one of the most important considerations in a home office. There’s no such thing as too much lighting—you can always turn a lamp off. If you can, invest in recessed ceiling lights for clear ambient lighting, and good desk lighting for task work. Hire a designer to put together a lighting plan if you’re not sure what you need.
And while you’re bringing in an electrician to update your lighting, ask about raising some of room’s wall outlets to counter height so you don’t have to crawl under your desk to charge your phone and laptop.
Another important factor to consider is your chair. You deserve the most supportive, most comfortable seat in the house, because you will be in it a lot. That means no dining or patio chairs!
An area carpet and drapery might seem like overkill in an office, but both will dampen sound and add character. After all, you’re still in a functioning household and sound travels both in and out of rooms. Remember: Fabric helps to keep the noise level down.
Spread and shred!
If you still work with a lot of paper (like me) then you will need space to spread things out. Yes, having space for a computer is one thing—or maybe two things—but a stretch of counter or table space can make life so much easier. Many home offices integrate counters with cabinetry to eliminate the stand-alone desk.
And my last piece of advice is perhaps the important most to remember: The best way to tame that junk pile is to tackle it and let it go. Get a high-quality paper shredder and use it! janelockhart.com
One trained to be an architect, the other an industrial designer. They have a storefront in a cool Manhattan neighbourhood, but theyare based in Montreal. Homefront tracked down Scott Richler and Gabriel Kakon of Gabriel Scott to chat about their design philosophies, their expansion plans and how as “brothers-in-law” they can improbably work together.
Q Your partnership came from an early connection that’s a little unusual. Tell us how you got together.
Gabriel: Scott is married to my older sister. The two of them were high-school sweethearts and, because I’m six years younger, I was always hanging around.
I later studied industrial design and then architecture at the University of Montreal, while Scott studied architecture at McGill. Not only were we drawn to the same industry, but we also share an interest in the same products, feel comfortable working for a certain type of client and seem to be naturally inspired by the same things. It makes for an easy, well-balanced partnership.
Q Who stirs up what, and do you ever go in different directions?
Gabriel: Very naturally, Scott and I have different strengths. He’s a master in product development, and also has a background in jewellery design. My expertise is in brand exposure and marketing development. We work together a lot, but Scott will definitely be the one to stir up the initial ideas. He is forever creating and designing, but I often help with the finishing touches. I tend to be more focused on how to present and market the concept, and take the lead on managing our showroom team. What we do is very collaborative, which makes it fun.
Q Tell us your back story.
Gabriel: We were both working in architecture and we had parallel experiences working for architects in Montreal on high-end projects. And when you are starting off in architecture, you are involved in all the parts of design. We would spec a lot of high-end custom furniture for our clients. Then we realized we want to control every detail from the overall design down to the furniture and lighting. Organically, we started designing our own pieces.
Scott: Over time, we began designing our own pieces and opened a small studio in Montreal to showcase some of our bespoke pieces and cater to a local clientele. Without the opportunity to expose our designs to bigger markets and with the 2008 downturn, we decided to take a six-month hiatus to refocus.
Gabriel: It was after that break that we started on a larger collection that we showed at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in New York, the biggest show in North America. It was a risk but a crucial time to get feedback. Fortunately for us, people loved the products and price points so, after a lot of time and energy to pull things together, we began our namesake company, Gabriel Scott. A second and third show led to growth and another pivotal step for us—the opening of our showroom in New York, in 2014. Located in the beautifully restored Brewster Carriage House, at the corner of Broome and Mott in downtown Manhattan, we have become known as a permanent presence in the neighbourhood.
Scott: We love this formula…Living in Montreal and growing our team here in the city with regular day trips to NYC. So far, so great!
Q Most design houses have what I’ll call a “signature style.” How would you describe yours?
Scott: I’d say Gabriel and I ride on a fine balance between masculine and feminine. It’s a duality that people appreciate. Having worked in architecture, we both have a sense of a massive empowered scale, while my interest in jewellery design brings out the delicate side of our work. For example, we work in steel and marble. We have designed a prong side table that has sides of steel but holds a marble top.
Gabriel: A perfect example is our Harlow chandelier, with its sharp, severe shapes that sit in a starburst silhouette. At the same time, however, the Harlow is also light and incorporates fragile moulded blown glass that we’ve purposely protected with a steel frame. There is always a delicate but tough.
balance that only works when the designers know when to stop. Both Scott and I seem to know intuitively when it’s enough.
Q Do some projects engage you more passionately?
Scott: That’s hard to say, but right now we have kind of an open slate to be creative. Our collection consists of both lighting and furniture and it’s growing. With lighting we can really be as creative as we like. There are no ergonomics to consider and there’s a lot of flexibility and room for imagination. Lighting glows, which is unique. Also it’s usually quite alone, free of any other pieces or interruptions. Quite literally, it’s a sculpture hanging from the ceiling. Lighting is wonderful eye candy.
Gabriel: Designing furniture is fun too, but perhaps more of a challenge as we have to work in a standard scale. Just how do you make a dining-room table more interesting? There are clear parameters, so we have to find more ways to be creative.
Q What do you appreciate the most in your own homes?
Gabriel: I’m actually building a home right now so I’m asking myself this same question. Creating total fluidity among the spaces throughout the house is at the top of my list. Vignettes that add perspective are also wonderful elements. I have a Cartesian mind so I favour alignment, but I also love to create special groupings that have their own unique personality. One thing I love about our new house is that we’ve created an art studio for my wife (Clio Honig). It was the basement where we had a sunken court, so it entailed digging a massive hole to accommodate a big bay of floor-to-ceiling windows to let in the natural light. Clio is an amazing contemporary portrait artist and to create a cool architectural feature that gave her a great space was important.
Scott: I have one of those living spaces that incorporates both the inside and out. The back wall of my kitchen is all glass and steel and it expands into the back garden, so it’s open and very cozy at the same time—it feels indoors and outdoors.
Q Where do you look to for inspiration?
Scott: I’m inspired by change. Staying still isn’t as interesting. I also tend be passionate about the details. I have spent time in fashion and jewellery design, so a lot of my ideas and influence come from both of those areas. It could be the buckles on a shoe or the relationship between a stone and a ring, or a piece of art or sculpture might light up the creative side of my brain and challenge me to explore it in one of our collections.
Q What’s on the horizon for your team? Is there anything you really want to try your hand at?
Gabriel: We’ve always longed for and talked about doing larger pieces such as sofas, daybeds or a chaise longue. Scott and I aren’t sofa manufacturers yet. But this year we’ve built up the courage to create a series of really elegant, functional sofas and chairs with ottomans. Of course, they’ll all need to be in the spirit of our collection, consistent with our styles and identity.
Scott: We manufacture in Montreal so we can be flexible and we’re striving to make products that are more adaptable. As we speak, we’re prototyping and value-engineering our new “grow-able” modular sofa series, which is expected to launch this fall. Also, everyone wants something custom. In the future, a lot more of our fixtures, like the Welles lighting series for example, will be made to special sizes. Gabriel Scott’s Canadian production line is working to be as flexible as it can to keep up with custom changes that meet our international clients’ needs.
Q Is there a tip or “best piece of design advice” you can share?
Scott: Hire a good architect! Seriously, it’s a hard question but I would say to hire someone “good” to do the work. Also, start with a central big idea or direction that informs the rest of your ideas, instead of looking at things piecemeal. The best results I’ve ever had as an interior designer have been when clients are respectful of my talent and expertise, and open to exploring new ideas.
Q A quarter of a century from now, what would you like Gabriel Scott to be known and respected for?
Scott: Wow. I’ll have achieved my goal if Gabriel Scott grows to be a brand that is part of a movement of young North American designers who continue to stay relevant.
Gabriel: Like good jewellery, our designs should be lasting, striking and beautiful enough to pass down to future generations.
Gabriel Scott pieces are handmade in their Montreal studio, with their flagship showroom located in the Brewster Carriage House in downtown Manhattan.
Shelley Black’s career has spanned a unique range of editorial and corporate roles with Flare and Maclean’s. She enjoys writing about all forms of design.
Recently a client asked me, “Is the formal dining room dead?”
Just as foods go in and out of fashion (I’m looking at you, kale chips), where and how we dine has also been subject to change. After working on many projects that have transformed closed-off dining rooms into open-concept main floors, I felt my client had asked a fair question.
Dining was hierarchical
After all, where did the formal dining room come from? In Medieval times, servants would wait on their masters and mistresses as they dined in a great hall. The host family sat at a raised table, while everyone else was positioned in rows below. Where you were seated signified your value to the family. The further away, the more dispensable you were. Dining was strict affair—you had no choice but to behave and follow protocol or you were removed, permanently.
20th century times
Things became a little more egalitarian in the 20th century. No more raised head tables. The nuclear family now sat at a scaled-down square, round or rectangular table. In the suburbs and city alike, family and friends ate together in coordinated dining suites. Manufactured to match, a glassed-in china cabinet, sideboard, table and chairs constituted the average formal dining room for a good part of the century.
So, what happened? Distractions such as radios, televisions, commuting and busy lives eventually took attention away from eating together and conversing…and making eye contact.
Fast food, microwaves and technology in general have all made it easier to cook almost anything at any time, in a way that accommodates our various schedules and desires. The neglected dining-room table has become a desk or a sorting table for laundry—almost anything but a place to dine—apart from at holidays and special occasions, when the debris is cleared off and the fine china polished.
The comeback kid
Today, while many of us embrace the airiness of open-concept living, a surprising number of renovations still include plans for a dining room. Thankfully, our furnishings and décor aren’t as rigid an in earlier times, and formality has been thrown out of the window in many homes.
Also gone are those once-treasured dining-room furniture suites. We don’t want our ancestors’ fixtures and fittings, but we still love to sit and eat together, throw dinner parties and enjoy food. We’ve loosened up.
As trends cycle through our lives people start to feel nostalgic, and the concept of eating at the table is gradually making a comeback. Families are making an effort to take a break from the 24-hour news cycle and the distractions of ever-imposing technology, and are embracing cooking and dining together once more.
The dining table is rising again, and is becoming known as the place to share a meal and converse, and even make eye contact. Whether it is in a separate room of the house or part of an open-plan design, the dining room is alive and well. Why not throw a dinner party, just to let friend and family enjoy the moment again?
Homes are getting smarter and connectivity has become an exciting cornerstone of innovation and convenience in our everyday lives.
Today, thanks to wireless technology and innovative thinking, busy families and their designers are discovering new possibilities when it comes to designing homes. A dramatic transformation is underway. Everything from the latest kitchen appliances to home entertainment options provide seemingly endless possibilities for Canadians as part of today’s connected home.
“At Samsung, our innovations are born from the insight that for many consumers, innovative design is becoming just as important as functionality and performance,” says Warner Doell, Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Digital Appliances, Samsung Canada. “Our inspiration comes from a balance of innovative function and exceptional design. Canadians continue to seek out new innovations and understand how design and technology add more convenience to their lives. Our connected ecosystem delivers innovations that inspire, educate and give families the tools they need.”
Heart of the home
Be it large or small, the kitchen has always been the gathering place for family activities. Many of us spend our time at home in the kitchen; after all, that’s where meals are created, where conversations happen and where people spend much of their time together. The kitchen is the hub where today’s connected appliances can make things more family-friendly and convenient.
With the Samsung Family Hub refrigerator, you can shop for food, organize your family’s schedules, post photos, keep up with favourite TV shows while you cook and even see who is at your front door while watching the stove. How cool!
See the pictures, not the TV
The Samsung QLED TV and The Frame are a designer’s dream.
The QLED TV combines innovative colour picture performance with ground-breaking Quantum Dot technology for exceptional purity and brightness levels. Its unique technology delivers an incredible picture across a wide variety of lighting environments so you can experience bold contrast, night and day. The TV also blends into any space by harmonizing with the wall colour or pattern that it’s mounted on using Ambient Mode. This feature also allows you to display decorative content, personal photos or even the current weather in a clean, minimalist way. Plus, distractions like messy cables and the black space on the wall are hidden.
The Frame, which can be mounted like a painting or a photo on the wall, also hides the cords and intelligently adjusts to surrounding light so your connected content—family photos or a piece of art from the specially curated Samsung Collection or Art Store1—appear like a painting rather than a screen.
With interchangeable mattes, bezel frame colours2 and display options, you’ll have fun changing the ambiance of your room with a touch of a button. And, adaptive display intelligence (ADI) can also switch the TV off when you leave the room and turn it back on once you return. Clever!
Remote access? The recent news on large-capacity washer-dryer combos is that they’re IoT enabled and Wi-Fi connected. The Samsung FlexSystem laundry pair is “smart” enough to deliver alerts, as well as to stop, start and monitor every cycle remotely via the Smart Home App3. Washing time can also be reduced by up to 50%4 with the simultaneous wash and dry feature that allows for washing two different types of laundry at the same time. That’s progress!
Still to come
As the future of connectivity takes shape, experts suggest we’ll see even more rapid change in our capability to communicate within our homes. So, expect more, take a holistic approach to design and functionality of network connected appliances and look forward to more exciting innovations from manufacturers who inspire you.
This content is sponsored by Samsung Electronics Canada. Samsung is inspiring Canadians to reach their full potential through a transformative ecosystem of products and services that deliver innovation and distinct design to every aspect of their connected lives.
For designers only
Bring your ideas to life. Keep up with the latest trends in home technology and check out special programs for interior designers and decorators at designercommunity.ca.
1. The Art Store may not be available in some countries. Art pieces in the Art Store are subject to change without prior notice.
2. Each customizable frame sold separately.
3. The Samsung Smart Home app supports Android OS 4.0 (ICS) or later which is optimized for Samsung smartphones (Galaxy S and Galaxy Note series). This app also supports iOS 7 or later models. Smart Home App available in App Store and Play Store.
4. A normal one-hour wash can now be completed in 30 minutes compared to a Samsung WF511 washer without SuperSpeed.
The Bubble Bros’s converted three-wheeled Piaggio Ape serves sparkling wine and signature Spritz cocktails at festivals and private events. Their little fleet of bubble wagons includes a Bubble Bike and the Spritz Blitz, too. Only in UK. Pity. bubblebros.co.uk
Designed by Alessandro Mendini and Pietro Gaeta, this series of 18 vividly coloured frescos and wallpapers called “4 mani sovrascritture” (4 hands over-writing), creates a bold statement in any room. now-edizioni.com
A forest of canoes
Vancouver Artist Dana Claxton has manipulated photographs of canoes and added brightly coloured layers for a series of 16-foot murals adhered to the columnar bents along the treaty lands of Toronto’s Bentway Skate Trail. thebentway.ca
Coloured glass meets lacquered metal. Patricia Urquiola and Federico Pepe collaborate to create an inspired furniture collection with artisans skilled in the thousand-year-old manual technique of architectural stained glass. editionsmilano.com
Row, row, row your boat
Look for these autonomous floating vessels on Amsterdam’s famous canals—a Roboat is a research project between MIT and a local institute that’s hitting the water to move goods and people. ams-institute.org/roboat
Glamour turned up, hues turned down. The Harlequin Credenza by Jonathan Adler, in shades of early morning is a little Italian modern and a lot playful. jonathanadler.com
When homeowners Danica and Derek were touring houses in search of a new home, they walked into the backyard of this Etobicoke property and fell instantly in love. Situated on a huge mature garden lot bordering on a golf course, they were won over by the park-like setting. They were so entranced that they were ready to make an offer before they had even looked at the traditional house on the property.
While both prefer a more modern style, the couple took stock of all the house’s positive features. It had “great bones”—the large principal rooms with original oak floors were in excellent condition and the recently updated kitchen, even if it was in a traditional style, was an added bonus. Ultimately, they knew that the one-of-a-kind setting couldn’t be duplicated but that the house, in time, could be transformed to reflect their style and become their dream home. They made an offer and soon the house was theirs.
No reno required Once they had moved in, Danica and Derek decided to give things a more contemporary feel. Without renovating the structure, and keeping the original features in place, the goal was to add a modern flair using décor.
The walls were originally a beige colour, which didn’t work with the couple’s dark grey and black furniture. For an instant transformation, a contrasting white paint in a matte finish was used. The baseboards and crown moulding got the same colour treatment with an added hint of sheen. The oak floors added a rich, warm tone, preventing the cool colours from appearing too stark. The mantel was typically traditional so it was treated with a contrasting grey—an unexpected choice that instantly updated the fireplace. Modern furnishings, including low-slung, leather-covered side chairs and two boxy sofas kept the lines clean and sleek, while mixed-metal tables added a touch of shine.
Art and décor statements Although these homeowners are art lovers, they don’t necessarily share the same taste. Derek loves colourful works by Indigenous peoples, while Danica loves colourful abstracts; colour being the common denominator. Along with bold, full-statement accessories, colour brings harmony and draws the eye around a room. Window blinds match the wall colour, but the formal border on the full drapery adds the right amount of sophistication and softness to make the room cozy.
The dining room is open to both the living and family rooms, creating a nice flow on the main floor. The homeowners love to entertain and wanted the dining space to feel comfortable, not fussy. Down came the crystal chandelier and up went a whimsical, orb-shaped metal light fixture with Edison bulbs in the dining room. It playfully complements the metal base of the custom-designed, raw-edged walnut table.
Full-sized, upholstered dining chairs flank two sides of the table and cool teal armchairs helm the ends. The custom-made walnut sideboard plays host to the homeowners’ collection of antique and contemporary decanters, while modern art takes centre-stage on the focal wall. A common factor in both modern and traditional design is scale. Large artwork helps to create balance in any room.
Contemporary doesn’t have to mean cold. By adding soft textures and comfortable seating, modern can be both inviting and warm. This property’s new family room is a good example of modern style with its hair down. Working with built-ins and niches, colourful, custom-made art, artifacts and antiquities create points of interest throughout the room. A boxy sectional is accompanied by a modern interpretation of wingback chairs flanking the fireplace, and the television gets to be the focal point here.
Now that the main floor has been infused with modern style, curated accessories, colour and warmth, the house is almost as perfect as their great backyard. Almost. janelockhart.com