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IDSwest preview: A look at seven up-and-comers on the B.C. design scene

Chad Falkenberg and Kelly Reynolds/Falken Reynolds

Photo by Josh Dunford

It’s important for any designer to have a wide variety of life experiences to draw on for their projects, but Chad Falkenberg and Kelly Reynolds have more than their fair share. Both have travelled extensively and had other careers before setting up their eponymous interior design studio, Falken Reynolds, in Vancouver two years ago. Falkenberg worked in finance, lived in Lithuania and studied in Barcelona; Reynolds served in the navy, then had stints as a police officer and a flight attendant. Their work, mainly in high-end homes, has a restrained, Scandi-modern sensibility but also a lighthearted exuberance comprising pops of colour and playful touches. At IDSwest, they will be remaking The Bar, the expo’s central social space, which is slated to be turned into an explosively green, West Coast garden – albeit one with Caesarstone countertops, exquisite furniture from Benson and statement lighting by Vancouver’s Lukas Peet Design. www.falkenreynolds.com

Falken Reynolds energizes its restrained design style with pops of colour and pattern, as demonstrated in this Whistler home. Photo by Chad Falkenberg

Claire Madill/Heyday Design

Porcelain has a reputation for seeming precious: a material reserved for twee figurines or the plates that collect dust most of the year and then get hauled out of the china hutch at Christmas. Vancouver’s Claire Madill uses it for commonplace objects. The Emily Carr University graduate doesn’t work the china too thinly, so it’s never frail. And she doesn’t limit herself to home-decor objects (although she crafts them, including beautiful baskets with an uncanny woven texture and casts of old Mason jars, particularly well), Madill also makes jewellery. Her series of architectural, angular broaches, cufflinks and earrings have an air of luxury thanks to their gilt edges, but work especially well to elevate an everyday outfit. www.heydaydesign.ca

Working with porcelain, Claire Madill bowls with intricate woven textures (from $54). Photo courtesy of Heyday Design

Yves St. Hilaire/Sticks + Stones Furniture

Seven years ago, Yves St. Hilaire of Squamish, B.C., had a business sealing driveways and later expanded into installing concrete countertops. He had no background in furniture making, nor a formal design education. But after he started working with concrete, he fell in love with its inherent strength and aesthetic graces. So he started experimenting, turning it into coffee tables, benches and fire pits (the last are a specialty). He even has plans to make a concrete headboard soon. Hilaire is not a one-material wonder, though. He often collaborates with other designers, such as carpenter Roland Benesocky or John Lore of the design studio Live Edge, which turns naturally felled trees into raw-and-rustic furniture. At IDSwest, a dining room set, one of the three pieces Hilaire is unveiling, will have an elemental and harmonious palette of concrete, steel and wood. www.sticks-and-stones.ca

Concrete is the material of choice for Sticks + Stones Furniture’s Yves St. Hilaire. His Fourty Six dining table ($6,200) proves that it’s worthy of grander uses than simply paving sidewalks. Photo courtesy of Sticks + Stones

Andrew Hibbs/Endeavour Neon

Neon lights are to LEDs as land lines are to smartphones. At best, they’re a quaint throwback (see: gangster-era Las Vegas); at worst, they’re redundant technology. Surrey, B.C.’s Andrew Hibbs is trying to revive the art. And it is an art; unlike LED fixtures that can be quickly and cheaply manufactured by machine, a neon sign is entirely handmade. Every bend of each skinny glass tube is formed and finagled over a fire, then manually pumped with neon and argon gas to create a soft, misty glow. The upshot is that each piece is highly durable and long-lasting: A neon light can shine for years and years before the gas needs to be repumped. At IDS, Hibbs – who learned his skills as a teenager from his father, a long-time sign-maker himself – will be showing his custom creations such as sweet, stylized hearts or elegantly scripted notes like Love Me or Be Happy. www.thatneonsign.com

In addition to his Famous Heart piece, which costs $375 to $525, Andrew Hibbs can create neon signs bearing client names or custom messages. Photo courtesy of Endeavour Neon

Brent Freedman and Robin McMillan/Gamla

Brent Freedman and Robin McMillan – partners in life as well as in their year-old studio, Gamla – live in a 600-square-foot apartment (tiny but typical for Vancouver, where they live). Rather than get cranky over the cramped quarters, though, the couple uses the restriction to edit their line of finely crafted hardwood furniture. If they can’t picture a piece fitting into their condo comfortably, clutter-free and long term, they axe the idea. The high degree of selectivity has been paying off: Their S2 dining chair (which will be on display at IDSwest) is going to be used at the Canadian High Commission in the U.K. The couple’s Welsh terrier Gimli has been a particular benefactor of the strategy. The one-year-old pup not only inspired the couple to create a special canine collection, but gets to live in and around the creations. Their elegant walnut dog house has slim, slatted sides, while the sleek, stainless dog feeders are perched in a tasteful maple frame. www.gamla.ca

Gamla’s S2 dining chair (from $1,550) features solid-brass arm inlays and is available in white oak or walnut. The chair is to be used at the Canadian High Commission in London. Photo courtesy of Gamla.

IDSwest runs at the Vancouver Convention Centre West from Sept. 25 to 28. For more information, visit idswest.com.

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