Folding Into The Future

Folding PaperIn my first year of design school we were assigned to build a chair that could hold a 200-pound person out of cardboard. We could fold it, glue it, cut it, but only paper could be used. I never forgot the assignment and the power of paper as a modelling tool. The ancient principles of origami, supported by science and math applications, are coming together to engineer design solutions that have stumped the drawing board for years.   Paper modelling is popular with architecture and industrial design, but the big winner is space when it comes to origami. The challenge of transporting big, heavy objects into a narrow rocket has challenged the industry since day one. Origami is about to change all of that and the possibilities for the future are stratospheric.   Imagine a power station that folds to 2.7 meters and blossoms to 25 meters in space beaming the sun’s energy directly to earth. Or an optical lens the size of a football field for the solar system’s soon to be largest telescope. These projects and more are all in development thanks to the same fundamental techniques as folding a paper crane.  A simple sheet of paper or the catalyst for an entirely new universe of design possibilities, you decide.






Inspired clicks:

Ted Talk: Origami Engineering Pioneer Robert Lang

Origami Meets Architecture

Make a Swallow

Akira Yoshizawa, World’s Master

Abbey Road

The arguably most recognized and imitated album cover in pop history is that of Abbey Road by the Beatles. It took a stepladder, a traffic cop and ten minutes for Iain Macmillan to get the shot of the Beatles crossing the street to EMI Studios on August 8, 1969. The hit singles were “Something” and “Come Together” and more than 10 million copies of the album have sold. Not sure if sales were thanks to the album cover or the hit song list, bottom line, both live on.

In December 2010, the crossing was given grade II listed status for its “cultural and historical importance” by the British Government.

Lost Art Of Music

June 2015 sidebarRemember when you used to walk into a music store and it was like going into an art gallery. When you were looking for a record and not listening for one? And I know this sounds crazy, but when you’d have to wait to get home to see if it sounded as good as it looked.

What was once an insignia for the performer is pretty much history. Downloads have hung elaborate cover design out to dry. Designs today are mostly simple and it’s no wonder when the sleeve art rarely links to the music download and the cover has been reduced to the size of an iPod screen.

The next track for album design might be cinematic. An experiential album concept where you can download an art and information package and watch video, hear songs and remix art and music to your heart’s delight. Björk’s current release of a moving album cover is a testament to the direction the industry might be heading. An exhibit of the composer’s work is currently on at the MoMA in New York City and offers visual and yes, audio clues for the future.

The album covers on your left were designed by: Jeff Koons, for Lady Gaga, Damien Hirst, for the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Robert Rauschenberg, for Talking Heads.


Moving Album Cover
Album Covers by Famous Artists
The 50 Coolest Album Covers
Jeff Koons
Robert Rauschenberg
Damien Hirst

Your WOW

Your WOWThink about a client meeting in the heart of a majestic cedar forest, by the sea, or an energetic downtown intersection that you don’t need to book, rent or set-up. A workspace pod that commutes to you and lets you focus on projects when it’s bumper to bumper without having to keep your eyes on the road.   Automobility, mobility design concepts tied to automation, at think tank IDEO is sparking debate and marketplace enthusiasm with forward thinking designs, innovation, with a human point of view.  Cars that drive themselves by symbiotically linking or platooning to others on popular commuting routes, delivery systems fully automated and instantaneously dispatch with a simple app, and better still, a mobile workspace that drives to you. A company that thinks about your quality of life, what motivates you, now that’s a high performance corporate ride.   A Workplace on Wheels, your WOW, is parked just down the street at the corner of future and imagined.







Inspired clicks:


The Look

IDEO with Charlie Rose

Convertible Garage

Creative Collective

Creative people often collect things. Joan Miró filled his house and studio with Siurells or clay whistles, Darwin collected bugs, and Tom Hanks typewriters. Me, I collect rocks.  Psychology journals point to collecting as often going “hand in hand with a growing passion for knowledge”. I like to think so. Many Nobel Prize winners and celebrities attribute their inventive work and creative pursuit to early childhood collections. I collect rocks wherever I go. Big, small, geologically irregular– I never tire of my reflection on pattern, colour, and shape. Acute observation is an essential skill in my trade. Rock hounding simply goes without saying on a hike, to the beach or walking a forested trail. Sadly, it also translates into overweight luggage. Rocks, and boulders are incorporated into my design projects when it makes sense. A tiny gold nugget inspired an entire office design for Eldorado Gold. Excavated boulders, unearthed in the heart of Kerrisdale, resulted in a stunning architectural detail for the home. Hand harvested Triassic lava basalt was cobbled together into a stone montage for a charming east coast seaside cottage. Rocks are a touchstone for me. You never know what original idea will be triggered. I say keep collecting, whatever your passion. Comic books, hockey cards, cookbooks, watches, stamps …

Inspired Clicks:

Eldorado Gold Project

Boulder in Kerrisdale

Swallowtail Stone Cottage

Joan Miró

Stone Sculpture With a Smile

Andy Goldsworthy’s Rocks

Sheer Style for the Flock this New Year

Sheep shotsSheep are butting heads with goats for top billing this upcoming Chinese New Year.

The Year of the Sheep, Ram or Goat will largely be remembered as simply sheep. And it’s no surprise that these docile ruminants won the power struggle. China is, after all, the world’s third largest producer of wool. Quick to spin sponsorship possibilities are the industry’s top herders, Australia and New Zealand.

Natural, sustainable, affordable and with global appeal wool merchandising continues to tout farm to fashion with gentle organic popularity.

The veracity of wool equates to sheer ingenuity when it comes to design. Wool fabrics, rugs, furnishings, art and accessories continue to dominate the marketplace with modern appeal. Our clients warm to authentic natural materials and we always encourage an investment in quality wool interior furnishings and rugs.

A hallmark 2015 marketing campaign by giants Merino and The Woolmark Company will be hard to cast off this Year of the Sheep. Marketing agencies will blanket media with innovative campaigns designed to make us all dyed in wool consumers.

From the humble Cowichan sweater to Haute Couture this year promises to be wild and woolly. One thing for sure…the gentle, sensitive and cautious qualities of the zodiac sheep will be herded into the retail spotlight.


Inspired clicks:
Woolly Lifestyle
Wool Interiors Collection
Wool Stones
The Wool Lab
Woolmark Magazine

Text Neck

Task ChairMany of the top-tier Furniture manufacturers like Herman Miller, Knoll, Steelcase and Teknion go to great lengths to research office conditions. They then apply findings to the design of their products. Win-Win for all of us! We have recognized since the late 70`s that chairs have a significant impact on our well being.




Here are some interesting findings.

 Steelcase + Re-Designing the Task Chair  (video)

Steelcase + Task Chair

And it’s not JUST about the chair. To follow is Knoll’s simple guide, you may want to use as a reminder….

Knoll’s Ergonomic Setup Guide

Modernism, The Heat is On

Modernism, The Heat is OnIf you are ready to escape the Canadian winter to re-charge your batteries chances are remote sandy beaches, an azure blue sea, and a nurturing aromatherapy might top the holiday list.

My escape includes heat, but the treatment is more a massage for the creative spirit and the luxury of time to re-ignite my imagination.

So Palm Springs Modernist Week it is.

This desert mecca for mid-century architecture is rolling out the welcome mat on an extensive inventory of iconic homes for aficionados and curiosity seekers alike. The week celebrates contemporary thinking, design, architecture, art, fashion, culture and even vintage travel trailers.

The Modernist movement really shines in Palm Springs and that’s what makes this architectural showcase a must see and an annual pilgrimage for many.

In the late 1940s wealthy families, Hollywood stars and hipsters wanted to retreat to the desert excited by a contemporary aesthetic and expression. Many embraced the philosophy and welcomed the change that Modernism promised. The desert climate was perfect to warm the architectural bones of the movement allowing for pure simplicity, unorthodox materials and scale, and a chance to realize the clarity of design so desired.

With perfect weather, bulging budgets, a sense of adventure, a minimalist landscape and an abundance of unencumbered acres— the prefect architectural cocktail was mixed. Now all I need to do is add the ice and shake!

Inspired clicks:
Modernist Week
Elvis Gets Modern, The House of Tomorrow
Sunnylands, Purely Modern Think Tank
How to dress like a Rat Pack Hipster

Alex Colville – Canadian Icon (1920 – 2013)

The first ever ‘art’ I bought (if you can call it art) was a ‘poster’ of Alex Colville’s iconic image; To Prince Edward Island. This same image, is used today to promote a retrospective of his work at the AGO – Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto.

IMG_0046 - Copy









If you are a fan of Colville’s quiet and masterful interpretation of every day Canadian life and his ability to take you from a mundane or serene moment to the edge between calm and threat – don’t miss this exhibit. It is at the AGO till January 4th 2015.

There are more than 100 works, including sketches and videos, marking the largest exhibition of the late artist’s work to date.


Related Links

Alex Colville – Global News

Exhibition Site

Alex Colville Site

Art Gallery of Ontario

Fish and Visitors smell after three days… a Red Herring?

Red HerringThe Swallowtail Stone Cottage residence continues with the latest additions of a charming guesthouse and a garage.

The garage and guest house design borrow from the island’s historic smoke sheds in proportion, cedar rail detailing and traditional paint palette of maple leaf red and bittersweet chocolate brown.

Reminiscent of a seaside country mews a 45-foot long basalt stone retaining wall anchors The Red Herring Guest Cottage to the site. A dramatic 14-foot window wall flaunts the ocean vista, peak-a-boo views of migrating whales, the landmark Swallowtail Lighthouse, and unadulterated stargazing from bed. Double duty is the mantra for this 360 square foot pied-à-terre.

A collection of 1938 photographs shot for Life Magazine depicts the island’s rich smoked herring industry, once the world’s largest. A commissioned painting by Michela Sorrentino offers a contemporary interpretation of the island’s historic fishing weirs.

As Benjamin Franklin once said: “Fish and visitors smell after three days”. With a charming guest house like this— a red herring for sure!



Inspired clicks:

Celine Interiors: Swallowtail Stone Cottage
The Red Herring Guest Cottage
Michela Sorrentino
George Daniell
Land And Sea Documentary
Sweet Sardines

Winnipeg – A Beautiful City

Winnipeg is where I chose to attend university, at the Architecture Faculty to complete my Interior Design degree. Back then, Winnipeg was it, if you wanted the best possible design education! Although my father was lobbying very persistently for me to attend Cornell where I was first accepted, I was, already back then, a die-hard Canadian and committed to stay in Canada. Winnipeg did not disappoint. Although the weather was a real detriment, (who enjoys 30 below temperatures with a wind-chill factor of -48 for months on end?) the people are why we all fall in love with Winnipeg. I say there must be a lot of ‘coureur des bois’ lineage in the Winnipeg population because they are friendly, inviting, welcoming….shall I go on? And, to boot, I met my husband there…. I am fortunate I get to go back regularly to visit friends and family who live in and around Winnipeg – still. As you will see in the attached video, Winnipeg’s setting (never mind history) is absolutely breathtaking. You can honestly see forever! As the saying goes: ‘Where else can you see your dog run away for three days!’

City Beautiful – How Architecture Shaped Winnipeg’s DNA (video)

Reading , Writing and Louise Penny

Some people do yoga, some people meditate, I like to curl up with a good book in a comfy chair sipping a full-fat cappucino! Life is too short for skim milk…

I went to a ‘preview event’ recently where Louise Penny (world renowned Whodunnit writer) I quite enjoyed spoke.

It was held at the First Baptist Church on Burrard and Nelson. There were over 700 people in attendance most of them – like me – had already purchased and started to read her last book in a happily increasing series of books on Inspector Gamache. Being from Quebec I always enjoy a good read that takes place in La Belle Province! I had to laugh at a quote on Louise’s website that speaks to her learning a second language on her arrival years ago in Quebec City. “… Within weeks I’d called Quebecers ‘good pumpkins’, ordered ‘flaming mice’ in a restaurant, for dessert naturally and asked a taxi driver to ‘take me to the war please’. He turned around asked ‘Which war exactly, Madame?…’ It made me wonder what I had said when learning English all those years ago!


NY Times Bestsellers List at #1 this weekend – a feat for a mystery/crime/whodunnit writer!

The BC Writer’s Festival is soon upon us so put it on your calendar for October 21 – 26, 2014.

With the ever increasing presence of on-line books, e-books and the like I would  encourage you to support small local Vancouver bookstores such as:

32 Books and Gallery (my personal favorite)

The Tyee’s list of independent book stores.