Vancouver’s Interior Design Show – IDS (West): some highlights

We’re still on the West coast with the blog!

Last weekend was the annual Canadian Interior Design Show (IDS) West in Vancouver. I’m lucky to have a great sister-in-law in Vancouver, Lynda Prince, who loves poking around design shows as much as I do and she volunteered to check it out and report back on items that she loved and that she thought reflected a “CO sensibility” and would be of interest to our readers.

I’m grateful to be able to visit the show through her eyes. Here’s her report:

IDS WestEach year, IDS West gets a little more grown up. Seven years ago, when we were in the middle of a frenzied renovation, my husband and I went to the IDS for inspiration. At the time, the show was fairly institutional. We saw the latest in dishwasher design and sleek Italian mosaic tiles; but there were only a few local designers and nothing that I hadn’t seen at the many tile and appliance stores that had become something of a second home during our year-long reno.

This year, IDS West had a much more exciting and unique vibe. Granted, there were still the gloriously manicured tiles and elegant appliances (like the Gaggenau micro 24 inch steamer wall ovens); but there was also a huge boom in custom and one-of-a-kind works.

alynda blog spotA sleek Gagganau wall oven (source:

Mirroring the expansion of a more customized product, were a series of talks given by international designers and architects on the new meaning of luxury. To paraphrase, today’s client is sophisticated about design and is taking a more responsible role in decision making. Trends are towards more bespoke work. Luxury in this new view is defined as quality that integrates responsible design and often sustainable practices.


Installation of wooden swings (source: Lynda Prince)

Designers producing custom pieces were presented in pockets throughout the show. To this end, the fabulous lighting collection Spheres, designed by Matthew McCormick Design Inc., in collaboration with Marie Khouri, was extraordinary. Their limited edition run of bronze and pewter sculpted lights led me into a moment’s fantasy of my completely reworked living room showcasing these stunning lights.

ids west lyndaLimited edition lighting collection Spheres (source: Lynda Prince)

An area where one-of-a-kind and limited edition were part of the standard language was in one of my favourite sections of the show: Studio North. I couldn’t help but notice the predominance of black walnut pieces—apparently sustainably harvested—that littered this section; all interesting and uber mid-century inspired. Highlights came first at Vancouver’s Gamla, a design group showcasing sleek pieces including their S2 Dining Chair a, here it is, sustainably sourced black walnut modernist chair. This summer, it was selected as a feature chair in the London Chancery Project, which means that an order of these chairs will soon be housed in the newly expanded Canadian High Commission in London, England.
GAMLA_S2 Dining Chair_Walnut-16                                                   The S2 Dining Chair (source: Gamla)

Another Studio North highlight was The Brooklyn Exchange, curated by Port and Quarter (a design group out of Vancouver) and composed of a consortium of independent Brooklyn-based designers. My eye fell on the M Lamp, by David Irwin of Juniper Designs. The LED light is operated by a rechargeable battery (it can be recharged up to 2000 times with no degradation). With a dimmer and a simple and elegant look (available in bold orange, sleek white and black), it’s a modern take on a 19th century industrial miner’s lamp.

image_1_147The M Lamp (source: Dave Irwin)

Irwin was also showing his Cross Side Chair, a sleek and stackable chair made from FSC-certified wood (guess, black walnut). The cushions are upholstered in renewable and compostable fabrics ranging from new wool to hemp blends. The interior of the cushion is made from 100 percent natural latex coming from rubber trees.

crosschair_lThe Cross Side Chair (source: Dave Irwin)

One of my favourite products at IDS was something that costs under $50 (it’s even cheaper if you have a 3d printer). It’s called CLUG and is the world’s smallest bike rack. It’s a simple wall-mount clip that fits in a 2″x2″ space.

CLUGCLUGs (source: Kickstarter)

CLUG was designed by the trio at Vancouver’s Hurdler Studios, an industrial design studio and crowdfunded by Kickstarter.

Clug-Bike-ClipThe CLUG in use (source:

Another fun area at IDS West was The District; less interior design and more a sneak peak at one-of-a-kind merchandise. Booth hopping was a kick…admiring wares like heyday design’s milk jugs, hand-spun wool knit blankets from Natural Wool Knits, dock kits made out of Canadian Mint money bags and Joe Carver’s awesome wood sculpture of a bull’s head.

DSC05048Joe Carver’s wooden sculpture (source: Lynda Prince)

Finally on a more macro level, there was a large area showcasing local designers. Ten booths had been transformed by ten different designers each creating a spectacular dining scene. These extraordinary dining environments—from the lavish and romantic to the outrageous and whimsical—were wonderful.

ids west lynda 3

DSC05055ids west lynda 2

Three of the showcased dining room scenes (source: Lynda Prince)

This is what the show should be doing more of (albeit an ‘Ikeaesque’ merchandising approach), showcasing designers doing their thing often using local materials. I spent much of the show in this crowded area picking up on design trends, loving the variety of ideas from a deep talent pool of designers, and getting names for our next reno project!

Thank you, Lynda, for sharing a slice of IDS(West)!

Which item do you think would fit in best at Galerie CO? Tell us in the comments below, or on our Facebook page, or on Instagram or Twitter @GalerieCO

Galerie CO’s Proust Questionnaire: Joe Jin

We’d like to introduce you to Joe Jin. He’s a young designer from Toronto and we just started working with him.  Joe is also an architect who believes that design should be simple, accessible, intelligent and playful. Here he is, explaining his approach to design in his own words.

We fell in love with Joe’s “Mr.” and “Mrs.” pillows, which present the universal symbols for men and for women, re-contextualized. Mr. cushion, web

Configurations of “Mr.” and “Mrs.” pillows (Source: Joe Jin)

Joe’s pillows are just one of many designs that we admire. In this, our final dispatch from New York Design Week, we want to congratulate Joe for his International Contemporary Furniture Festival (ICFF) Studio Award for his colourful Bent Dot stool. The ICFF Studio is a platform to match selected emerging designers and their prototype products with potential manufacturers. The win meant that Joe was invited to show his stools in New York to the over thirty thousand attendees at the ICFF.

ICFF Joe Jin

Joe showing his award-winning Bent Dot Stool at ICFF (Source: Joe Jin)

Joe Jin’s a busy man – managing interns, meeting with manufacturers, and creating new and innovative designs – but he took some time out to answer our version of the Proust Questionnaire to give Galerie CO fans a better sense of what makes him tick.

Galerie CO: What is your current state of mind?

Joe Jin: Active (post-coffee).

Galerie CO: What does sustainability mean to you?

Joe: We cannot continue to live the way that we currently do. It is not sustainable. Current and future products need to think of sustainability as an integral (and inseparable) part of the design process.

Galerie CO: What was your first artistic creation?

Joe:  From what I can remember, drawings on the underside of the family coffee table.

Galerie CO: What is your favourite work of art?

Joe: There are too many to list.

Galerie CO: What kind of weather makes you feel the most creative?

Joe: External weather has less effect on my creativity as “internal weather” (i.e., how I feel). In short, I’m most creative when I am happy.

Galerie CO: What keeps you busy when you’re not working/designing/creating?

Joe: Thinking about working/designing/creating! Design is a labour of love and as such, always seems to be on my mind. That said, I do love time with friends and family. That, and motorcycles.

Galerie CO: Who is your favourite designer?

Joe: Again, too many to list.

Galerie CO: What is your favourite meal?

Joe: Too many to list! If I hadn’t chosen design as a career path, I likely would have trained to be a cook. Joe and his mom, cooking

Joe cooking with his mom (Source: Joe Jin)

Galerie CO: What is your most treasured possession?

Joe: Memories.

Galerie CO: What do you most value in your friends?

Joe: Loyalty. Companionship. Similar goals and interests.

Galerie CO: What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Joe: Doing what I love (and sharing that experience with loved ones). Repeat.

Galerie CO: What is your greatest extravagance?

Joe: I’m a foodie, so basing an entire trip on “places to eat” is not uncommon.

Galerie CO: You must have enjoyed a great meal while you were in New York for ICFF:

Joe: Definitely. Here’s a photo of a dish I really indulged in and enjoyed from Le Bernardin.   le bernardin_yellowfin tuna

Layers of thinly pounded yellowfin tuna, foie gras, chives and extra virgin olive oil (Source: Le Bernardin)

Galerie CO: What is your favourite city?

Joe:  New York. It’s familiar, and at the same time, it’s not.

Galerie CO: What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Joe: Having the opportunity to inspire others to pursue their dreams.

Galerie CO: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Joe: I would be less stubborn.

Galerie CO: What is your motto?

Joe: YOLO (just kidding). I don’t have a motto but this seems to be the only motto people keep saying/tattooing on themselves these days.

Galerie CO: Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Joe: “Awesome” (my interns just corroborated this).

Galerie CO: Apart from your work, what is your favourite item at CO?

Joe: Ronel Jordaan’s large felt rock cushion is awesome (we have one in the studio!) and supports a great social cause in South Africa. ronel jordaan's large felt stone on joe jim's daisy garden rug

Ronel Jordaan’s large felt rock cushion on top of Joe Jin’s Garden Daisy rug (Source:

Joe’s  design company looks for opportunities to inject its personality into every component of every product it designs. We like this personality and we’re looking forward to seeing it applied to future designs!

Joe Jin pillows

For more information on Joe Jin’s pillowcases, click here.

Spectacular new kitsets launched by David Trubridge at Wanted Design

During New York Design Week this year (May 9-20) visitors to the Big Apple were spoiled for choice for interesting design venues, galleries and intriguing design events to attend. Not-to-be-missed is Wanted Design, held each year in the exceptional landmark Terminal Stores building on 11th Avenue in the meat-packing district. This is where CO designer David Trubridge has exhibited for the past four years – and his booth is always a highlight (pun intended, of course).

Wanted Design


This year there was a lot going on over the three-day show that was visited by over 10,000 design lovers. Trubridge and his team built a sumptuous booth anchored by a giant bespoke floor-to-ceiling tree-like canopy. He launched several new “Seed System” lighting kitsets, exhibited a couple of prototypes, showed us his new line of fine jewellery and presented a suite of furniture now available in build-it-yourself kitsets. Just another day in the life of David Trubridge!

Wanted144aDavid Trubridge in his booth at Wanted Design (Source: David Trubridge)

The idea of the Seed System build-it-yourself kitset is central to David Trubridge’s work. He lives and works in New Zealand where his small company is continually doing all it can to reduce its environmental footprint. Yet his clientele is global and Trubridge has determined that the most positive thing that his small company can do for the environment is to reduce the volume of freight that he transports around the world.

UnpackedKouraSeed System Koura pendant kitset (Source: David Trubridge)

Packaging and shipping a light as a kitset results in about 1/40th the volume of freight compared with shipping the same light, assembled. So the kitsets dramatically minimize the overall volume of freight being shipped out of David Trubridge  Ltd. Of course, shipping the kitsets (as opposed to the assembled lights) all the way from New Zealand also makes them more affordable.

SnowflakeIce2Snowflake (Source: David Trubridge)

The Seed System has therefore become an integral part of Trubridge’s design practice, which means a growing range of his iconic designs are becoming available as kitsets to be assembled by the end user. This year, some of Trubridge’s most spectacular designs were added to that list: the Sola and Snowflake pendant lights and the Swish light are now available as flat pack kitsets, launched at Wanted Design.


Swish kitset (Source: Galerie CO)

Trubridge also showcased his Pequod lightshade (in small and large), which mimics the ripples of the ocean using pieces of bamboo and polycarbonate.

IMG_20140517_160924“Pequod” lightshade (right) (Source: Galerie CO)

Alongside the new kitset offerings, Trubridge exhibited two prototype designs. The first, Hush, is a dome-shaped pendant light fashioned with a constellation of LED lights set above a layer of recycled polypropylene felt, chosen for its sound absorbing properties so it is effectively a light fixture that doubles as an acoustic device. The second prototype, Belle, is a new pendant and wall sconce made from overlapping bamboo pieces. Both Hush and Belle are formed with signature Trubridge modules of interlocking elements to allow for flat-pack shipping and assembly without tools.


Hush pendant (Source: David Trubridge)

Trubridge also exhibited a selection of indoor/outdoor furniture. His redesigned Ruth and Dondola rockers are now suitable for the outdoors, and can both also be supplied shipped as a flat pack kitset. The Ruth rocking chair was inspired by Australian designer Ruth McDermott with whom David Trubridge exhibited at the Milan Furniture Fair in his early years. She encouraged him to design a rocking chair, which he did, and he called it “Ruth”. Using the new kitset, Trubridge estimates that we can build our own “Ruth” in 20 to 30 minutes.


Ruth rocker, kitset (Source: David Trubridge)

The second kitset is the extraordinarily graceful rocker – Dondola. According to Trubridge, the name comes from the Italian word for rocker that, as a happy coincidence, rhymes with gondola, which also rocks gracefully as it transports its passengers around Venice.


Dondola rocker kitset (Souce: David Trubridge)

Mark your calendar for next year’s Wanted Design in NYC. It’s a design destination chock full of interesting exhibitors and there’s no reason to think that David Trubridge won’t be back for year 5 with a new crop of inspiring designs to lust after.

Colourful-Seed-System-Kitset-Bamboo-LightsCoulourful Coral and Floral kitset pendants (Source: David Trubridge)

Galerie CO’s Proust questionnaire: Foekje Fleur van Duin

In the North Pacific Ocean there are areas where plastic debris accumulates as a result of global ocean currents. The garbage, which sits just under the surface of the water, is estimated to cover an area roughly the size of France.

ocean debris

Debris in the Pacific Ocean

This man-made plastic debris is not biodegradable. It’s consumed, with tragic results, by sea birds, fish, and marine mammals and it does not belong in our oceans.

In 2009, Foekje Fleur van Duin was studying art in the Netherlands when she read an article about this ever-accumulating mass of plastic. The debris finds its way to the North Pacific comes from all over the world, including from the Netherlands. What she learned inspired her to go down to the Maas River near Rotterdam where she found all kinds of plastic objects from toys to detergent bottles. Continue reading

Spring colour

It’s the first full day of Spring and we’re waiting anxiously for bulbs and blossoms – a little colour! We’re showcasing one of our favourite colours – paying homage to Spring – duck egg blue.

There is no one colour that is the definitive duck egg blue. Like so many things in nature, there’s variance in definitions, colour and shade; some are a little lighter, some a little greyer and some a little greener. The tones are softer than its close relative “robin’s egg blue”. It isn’t aqua. Rather it’s a muted spectrum of pastels encompassing pale blues, greens and greys.

duck eggs

It’s a peaceful, soothing colour that, depending on the coordinating colours and surroundings, can be retro and contemporary, clean and country.

duck egg blue paint pot

Duck egg blue pairs beautifully with other natural muted colours: whites, creams, greys and browns. Paired with dark grey and brown it is classic and elegant yet works well with the shag rug.

duck egg blue daily mail co uk

Continue reading

International Women’s Day: spotlight on Wola Nani

March 8 marks the 102nd International Women’s Day (IWD), when thousands of events put on by governments, charities, educational institutions, women’s groups, companies and communities celebrate the economic, political and social achievements of women.

This year’s official theme is ‘Inspiring Change’.

It’s a theme that resonates with us at CO where we are trying to inspire change on a daily basis. We do this through sustainability and design, and by supporting communities and small businesses from around the world who are working responsibly with a social conscience and an environmental awareness.

Since we opened in 2008 we have worked with Wola Nani, an NGO located in the Western Cape of South Africa with a focus on empowering women and inspiring change. This year, Wola Nani is celebrating its 20th anniversary and we want to help celebrate with a short profile to mark IWD at Galerie CO.

wola nani logo and image

In the Xhosa language (South Africa’s second most common language), Wola Nani means “through our embrace, we develop one another.” The organization was founded by South African activist Gary Lamont in 1994 with a clear mission: “to improve the quality of life for people living with HIV and AIDS.”


It began with an entrepreneurial spirit focusing on bringing relief to the communities hardest hit by HIV, recognizing that women have been disproportionately infected with, and affected by, the pandemic. Income generation and the need to provide women with a practical means to support themselves financially was quickly identified as an urgent need for women testing positive with HIV and the women at Wola Nani began making paper maché bowls and beaded objects to generate income.

Through its staff, which is made up largely of women many of whom are HIV-positive themselves, Wola Nani now delivers services and pursues activities that fall broadly into three categories: client support, education and awareness, and skills development. Through counselling, care, training, increased awareness and community support, individuals with HIV are empowered to take control of their lives with confidence, dignity and hope.

Wola Nani 2

At present, about sixty craftswomen are employed by Wola Nani, enabling them to earn a regular and sustainable income. These women report that Wola Nani has provided them with a means by which to feed their families, send their children to school, and live positively.

This is Ruth’s story. Hear how Wola Nani changed her life and the lives of her children.

When you purchase a Wola Nani product, it makes a difference in the lives of these women and their families.  At Galerie CO we stock the colourful paper maché bowls, each signed on the bottom by the woman who made the bowl.

Wola Nani

We also stock the intricately decorated “Ithemba” light bulbs, which were designed by well known fashion designers (Vivienne Westwood, Jean Paul Gaultier, Nina Ricci and more) and decorated with beads and wire by the women at Wola Nani. The designer bulbs are part of a project called “Fashion designing Hope”.

To learn more about Wola Nani and to hear more stories about the women whose lives have been inspired and changed by the organization’s vision visit

Wishing all our #COclients an inspired International Women’s Day.


Sustainability — the ability to last or continue for a long time or the ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level — is a word that often relies on its context for clarity of definition. The concept of sustainability as it relates to human development first appeared in 1987 in the idea of “sustainable development” as follows:

Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

—World Commission on Environment and Development’s
(the Brundtland Commission) report Our Common Future
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987).

Meeting the needs of the future depends on how well we balance social, economic, and environmental objectives–or needs–when making decisions today. For example, at a broad level, industrial growth might conflict with preserving natural resources. Yet, in the long term, a balanced approach that advocates the responsible use of natural resources now will help ensure that there are resources available for sustained industrial growth far into the future.

sustainability and CO

As applied to policy making, sustainability requires us to question what are the needs of the present? How do we decide whose needs are met? What happens when needs conflict? When there has to be a trade off, whose needs should go first? What gets prioritized?

The decision with respect to which “needs” are most vital and should weigh most heavily in the balance is a subjective exercise and depends critically on immediate hardships, challenges, value structures and expectations. If you did not have access to safe water, and therefore needed wood to boil drinking water so that you and your children would not get sick, would you worry about causing deforestation? Difficulties notwithstanding, the balancing of objectives is vital in the short term – by individuals, communities, cities, countries and groups of countries – if we expect to sustain our development in the long term.

We recently asked our Facebook friends and our Twitter followers what sustainability meant to them in the context of design.

Consistent with the breadth of the concept of sustainability, we got a diverse set of responses. So we built a word cloud around the definitions where the larger the word, the more frequently it was used in a response. Within the diversity, the similarities stand out: “environment”, ‘materials”, “beautiful”, “creating” and “long-lasting”.

The words in the cloud touch on the many facets of sustainability and those used most frequently are consistent with the values in a society with a robust social safety net, access to services, relatively low levels of gender inequality, and where our basic needs are met in terms of subsistence, education and health. And importantly it reflects not only the importance of the responsible use of resources, but also the idea that design can be a driver of sustainability through original ideas and innovation.

The construct of a sustainable balancing act exists.  #COclientsarethebest!

sustainable design word cloud