Vancouver Weekend: We're Thinking....Vancouver Design Week(end)

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      Need something to do this weekend? In light of the return of Vancouver Design Week, which takes place at various venues around the city from this Friday to Saturday (May 12 to 14), here are five design spaces to check out during the event's Open Studios program. 

      Michael Green Architecture, 63 East Cordova Street (1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday [May 13])

      One of Vancouver’s leading architects and a prominent advocate of tall, wood-frame buildings, Michael Green is responsible for some of the most striking and sustainably made structures in North America. His community-centred approach has shaped city halls, helped add character to retail establishments, and created homes away from homes—all while keeping the well-being of Mother Earth in mind.

      This weekend, you’ll have a chance to explore the Gastown studio of Green and his team, where architects, interior designers, and graphic designers converge and collaborate on the daily. When visiting, be sure to ask Green about his work on the Ronald McDonald House B.C., Riley Park’s Matchstick Coffee Roasters, and LYNNsteven boutique. (Green produced the giant cylinder of used paperback books in the store, which serves as both a stunning statement feature and a wall that divides the change room from the retail area.)

      The firm’s Empire State of Wood project, designed to mimic the iconic New York City structure using a renewable material, should also offer fascinating insight to those interested in sustainability and the future of architecture.


      Bronsino Designs

      Bronsino Designs, 225–975 Vernon Drive (11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday [May 13])

      Beautifully buttery-soft, Bronsino Designs' new and recycled-leather bags don't just look like pieces of handmade art: the veteran Vancouver designer’s purses also adhere to a zero-waste policy, with pieces and trims often crafted from from repurposed material.

      Designer Denise Wilson studied fine arts in Florence, and you can definitely see the Italian influence in her collection. She has been giving discarded leather jackets, totes, and furniture chic new life for well over a decade, and her styles just keep getting better and better. Highlights have included a recent street-inspired, graffiti-feeling line of handprinted Chelsea styles, and watch out for her upcoming Zaragoza backpacks—supple leather totes in hues like deep purple and electric yellow.

      Fashion fans will also love her wide leather obi belts. You can find her sleek yet slouchy pieces at stores like Blushing Boutique (579 Richards Street). Meanwhile, at Vancouver Design Week(end), check out all her wares, see where it all happens, and enjoy a 20 percent discount on her collection during the event open studio.



      MNSTR Gallery, 1818 Lorne Street (1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday [May 14])

      A new addition to Vancouver’s creative scene, MNSTR Gallery demonstrates—in one small room—just how diverse the art of design can be. Situated just off Main Street and East 2nd Avenue, the studio serves as a workspace for husband-and-wife team Ben Goerlach and Oli Sari-Goerlach, both of whom have dabbled in everything from photography and animation to graphic design and screen-printing.

      A full-time VFX animator, Ben will be showing off his screen-printing skills with an on-site demonstration, while Oli, a trained graphic designer and photographer, will be exhibiting a selection of her captured images. Expect an eclectic melange of work, which will span the bold and visually arresting to the playful and experimental.

      With Ben and Oli’s sights set on nurturing locally and internationally produced pieces, this is your chance to preview an up-and-coming design space that’s sure to become a hub for accessible, community-oriented art in the next few years.


      Benjamin Mclaughlin

      Yew WoodShop, 1295 Frances Street (11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday [May 13])

      Wood reigns supreme at this shared woodworking space in East Vancouver, where you’ll find a number of designers at work on furnishings, lighting fixtures, home décor, and more.

      Check out OGA Design for unconventionally shaped benches, chairs, and desks; Willow & Stump for multifunctional, space-saving furnishings; and Daly Company for decorative wall art, stools, and everything in between. Meanwhile, Benjamin McLaughlin Art and VanAir Design will have drum-table combos and soundproof, ventilated doors on hand, respectively.

      All of the designers use locally sourced wood with an emphasis on recycling and upcycling the sustainable material whenever possible. Prototypes, completed projects, and ongoing works from all artists will be available for viewing during Vancouver Design Week(end), plus the opportunity to inquire about custom works.



      evendesign, 2735 West 31st Avenue (1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday [May 14])

      Designer Judi Patson's jewellery business started a decade-and-a-half ago, when the former film-industry worker had the clever idea to turn the liquid levels that handymen keep in their toolboxes into necklaces. The idea was to remind the wearer to keep her life in balance.

      The artist has gone on to create equally clever pieces out of everything from Lego bricks to compasses, building a line as whimsical as it is design-savvy—not to mention meaningful. What better way to reorient yourself when you feel lost in life than to look down at, say, your large compass pendant from her "direction" line; or to remind yourself to take a deep breath when you see her bright-green or -blue "a-level" ring finding its own bubble of equilibrium on your finger?

      The West Side designer has expanded her collection to include several artful sterling-silver series, from the honeycomblike "community" line to the leafy "harmony" pieces. See where it all happens, and check out the work of other artists too, at her studio during Vancouver Design Week(end).

      Running every Thursday, Vancouver Weekend spotlights five Straight-approved places around the city worth discovering.