The up-and-coming interior designers you need to know about

interior design show 2016 zoe

Recently I went to an open house that was a time capsule in mid-century interior design. The owner, a former interior designer, had painstakingly maintained her home in all its Mad Men-glory. The star item in this retro-treasure trove was a custom-built bedroom vanity table. Remember? Those mirrored desks that women would sit at to apply makeup and fasten jewellery? Moment of silence.

It’s funny how easy it is to find clothes and beauty products in a minute, but finding ways to store them is low on the list of priorities. Canadian furniture retailer EQ3 must have pondered this fashion conundrum when it curated the EQ3 Assembly, set to debut at the 18th Interior Design Show in Toronto. EQ3 Assembly is a collection of pieces that range from accessories to small furnishings, designed by ten Canadian talents.

Montreal-based industrial designer Zoe Mowat says her interest in organizing, and arranging objects, inspired her to focus professionally on storing and displaying things (“I did spend a lot of time organizing my toys.”) Her modern vanity table is a throwback to the art deco era that sparked her interest in design in the first place. “It’s important to devote a specific space to the ritual of preparing yourself for the day,” says Mowat. “Especially one with lots of storage for hiding things away and surfaces for displaying favourite lotions, perfumes and objects.”

All of Mowat’s pieces (she makes incredible jewellery boxes too) are made by hand in her Montreal studio, which allows her to work with local manufacturers and artisans for components like welding, glassblowing, slip casting and lathe turning. “The rest is done in my studio, and it usually includes a lot of wood and metal work, as well as painting and finishing,” she says. “This approach allows me oversee the details of each piece.”

Toronto design duo MSDS Studios (a.k.a. Jessica Nakanishi and Jonathan Sabine) say their interest in quality furniture and interiors stems from a desire to promote forms of living and commerce that run counter to the “destined-for-the-waste-bin type of trade that dominates the world economy.”

“We both had closets as kids, but the informal functionality of this piece was inspired by years of living in rental apartments with little or no closet space,” says Sabine of the deceptively simple Assembly Ladder, which was inspired by scaffolding in the movie Tokyo Story.

“It’s a multipurpose rack/clothes hanger that can be used in the bedroom as a closet, in the bathroom as a towel rack, or at the entryway as a coat rack,” says Nakanishi adding that the overlapping of its elements create hooks, so in addition to the three horizontal racks, the piece has 12 additional hooks for hanging things.

“We don’t subscribe to any specific set of [design] beliefs,” says Sabine. “We like to be nimble. But the irony of a generation of men who’ve never touched a tool who cloak themselves in working class drag is not lost on us.”

(The Interior Design Show runs from January 21-24, 2016 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre)

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