Best of Vancouver 2019: East Van pillows to retro-'70s velvet couches, lots to love on local design scene

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      From new home stores that brazenly bust out of the minimalist-white box to local designers upending everything from lighting fixtures to office furniture, there’s a lot to celebrate on the Vancouver scene. And for those in a more pessimistic mood, there are always mugs that tell the world exactly how you’re feeling. Read on for some of the best of the city’s new furnishings and homeware.


      Best way to bring East Van streets indoors

      From the iconic Only Seafood neon to the monumental East Van sign or misty Lions Gate Bridge, Vancouver artist and photographer Heather Johnston’s images now adorn soft velveteen pillows. The cushions, under her label 4 Oceans Art, come in the same West Coast grey scales that her photos do. Other favourite views: the ivy façade of the Sylvia Hotel, Stanley Park’s Girl in a Wetsuit sculpture, and the old Yale Hotel sign. (Find them online or at stores like Parliament Interiors [115 Water Street].)


      WA MOGA 29’s preserved summer blooms.

      Best way to capture summer in a bottle

      The warm, sunny weather never lasts long here on the rainy West Coast, but WA MOGA 29 has found an artful way to keep summer blooms year-round. Each sleek bottle acts like a mini desktop garden—one you won’t have to water or prune. That’s because this Vancouver company meticulously dries its handpicked plants and then displays them in a special preserving oil. No two are exactly alike, but we love the delicately long-stemmed Dear One #9 Delphinium in purply pale blue (a flower that represents “vivacity and an open heart”) and the packed-with-blooms Flower Haze Limited in Rococo Pink (with flowers like strawflower, celosia, statice, globe amaranth, and pepper berry), the latter in stackable bottles. The line, created by Japanese-raised, Vancouver-based artisan Reiko Kata­yama, draws on the Japanese approach of wabi-sabi, or the wisdom of natural imperfection—picture a gorgeous, tiny petal that’s fallen to the bottom of a bottle.


      Viva la velvet: KARE Furniture strikes a groovy '70s vibe.
      Tammy Kwan

      Best place to find a pink tufted velvet couch

      KARE Vancouver
      1275 West 6th Avenue

      We seriously dig the upscale-mod Boogie Nights vibe at this new German interior-design hub, which recently found a permanent home on the bottom floor of Fairview’s Inspiration Furniture. No boring neutral tones here: the 4,000-square-foot showroom specializes in the line’s bold pieces, from throwback ’70s hanging chairs to casino-gold bar-tray tables on wheels. Signature pieces include a curving brass-gold velvet sofa with seashell-like linear quilting (we’re picturing it in front of Blue Velvet’s purply-mauve walls right now), an Elvis-worthy woven Acapulco chair, a Daliesque melting gold mirror, and a paint-splattered horse figurine straight out of a peyote dream. The vintage velvet home bars with gold accents? They’re the stuff of your Rat Pack dreams.


      Concealed design creates an ethereal glow with its architectural lighting.

      Best mix of the sustainable and sci-fi in lighting

      Cheryl Cheng and Mario Sabljak’s concealed studio draws from crystals and other natural forms for its unearthly, geometric lighting. At last year’s Why I Design show at the Museum of Vancouver, the duo displayed standing lights crafted from paper offcuts. The backlit objects were constructed without glue or adhesive, and placed atop blocks of reclaimed cedar at different angles. Meanwhile, their custom 5.3 Architectural Panel features similar folded-paper peaks and valleys, all encased in a wood frame. Step into their ethereal world at this year’s Eastside Culture Crawl, November 14 to 17, at the ARC studios.


      A Spun chair at WallpaperSTORE*.

      Best place to design rooms straight out of Wallpaper* magazine

      WallpaperSTORE* Pop-Up
      Leisure Center, 950 Homer Street, until December 31

      The online curated design store has set up a temporary bricks-and-mortar outpost in the city’s sleekest lifestyle shop—the first Canadian pop-up of its kind. Look beyond the leafy installation by local vendor Celsia Florist for a sleek installation conjured by Vancouver’s Jeff Martin and Henry Norris. For sheer design genius, check out Thomas Heatherwick’s Spun, a playful creation that definitely isn’t your granny’s rocking chair: crafted from dark-purple polyethylene, the sculptural seat looks like a giant vase or spinning top and swivels when you tilt it on its side. Elsewhere, fashionistas will go ga-ga for the colourful embroidered-bee or -cat Gucci pillows, with their hand-applied braided trims and fringe tassels.


      You have to respect the direct messages on g ceramic & co.'s gold-emblazoned mugs.

      Best way to greet the morning

      There is nothing that says “Stay away from me until I’ve had my first hit of caffeine” quite like a handcrafted mug emblazoned with the words Fuck Off or Zero Fucks in lovingly hand-painted 18-karat gold on midnight-black stoneware. At last check, local ceramic artist Gabrielle Burke’s g ceramic & co. was sold out of cups bearing these spot-on sentiments, but there are still more positive versions announcing “Lady boss” and “I am in love,” and others decorated with the moon phases. Find her latest handcrafted pieces at the Circle Craft Market from November 7 to 11 at the Convention Centre West.


      Union Wood Co.'s new Campfire table gets cool with corporate tables.

      Coolest conference tables

      Vancouver’s Union Wood Co. has brought a fun and sleek sense of design to one of the most staid realms of décor: the standard office conference table. Form and function balance with beautiful woods for four new styles. We like the Campfire, with its legs’ contemporary take on crisscross kindling, and the rounded Radius table’s tambour-wood-wrapped base. The four styles come in a variety of sustainably harvested, solid North American hardwoods, including oak, walnut, and ash.