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Pixel pillows, propane-tank stools and other artful pieces by local designers
HIMALAYAS RUG: The inky blue hues and stylized lines of Robyn Waffle’s hand-made tapestry might seem inspired by a Lawren Harris canvas. And in fact, one of the 29-year-old’s first artistic endeavours, as a teenager, was reproducing Group of Seven paintings (if more graphic and surreal). But the rug is actually a poetic, loving tribute to the Nepalese craftspeople who produce the silk and New Zealand wool creations she designs as the head of Toronto’s Modallion studio. The central motif is the Himalayas, surrounded by cross-hatching inspired by fabric weavers, overlaid with a series of bold, curvy orange lines that represent the seven major cities of Nepal. For even more sparkle, she incorporates small Swarovski crystals into the orange dots, a finishing touch that elevates her work from something to put under a coffee table to something worth hanging on the wall. 8’ x 8’. From $6,500. Available through Reznick Carpets, 81A Ronald Ave., Toronto, 416-789-9090. – Matthew Hague
PIXEL CUSHIONS: Toronto textile designer Bev Hisey has often added hits of whimsy to her rugs and cushions – she’s made pillows embroidered with a line of ants, and a rug with a pattern derived from a microscopic image of bacteria. With her new line of woven cushions, Pixel, she turned online for inspiration: their colour combinations were derived from images she found on a favourite blog. Woven from fine cotton in mills certified by Goodweave, which guarantees the textiles were not produced by child labour, the cushions are just right for relaxing with an evening of YouTube clips. From $150. Available through bevhisey.com. – Alex Bozikovic
ALDER CURVED-BACK CHAIR: Before Martin Byers became a designer, the 29-year-old worked in the film industry (doing walk-ons and stunt scenes) and as a salesman at a Ducati dealership. His curved-back dining chair has similarly unconventional roots. The basic form was styled after a set of three-legged pieces his father built for the family home in Deep Cove, B.C. But Byers improved the design with Bauhaus-style ideas of form – the shape and width of the back, along with the slight tilt of the seat, are carefully calibrated to optimize comfort. The craftsmanship is another upgrade, and the locally sourced, alder-wood pieces are fixed using skillful carpentry, such as dovetail and mortise and tenon joints, as opposed to staples or nails. This attention to detail reflects Byers’s love of master woodworkers – architect George Nakashima, for example – who turned furniture into art and timber into poetry. $1,200. Available through thanku.ca. – Matthew Hague
BLOWN-GLASS CHANDELIER: With his company, Bocci, Vancouver architect Omer Arbel has sent Canadian design around the world. He’s made constellations of blown-glass pendants for homes and boutique hotels from Sweden to South Beach, Fla. With the 38 series, he alters his shimmering aesthetic by adding some dirt. These chandeliers’ large glass balls have random cavities blown into them, some for containing light bulbs, some for plantings of succulents. It all hangs on rigid copper wires, which can be moulded into sculptural arrangements. Yes, they take some work to install (you’ll need to provide your own plants). But here, three currents in design – rough, unpolished materials and those popular succulent plantings – reach a new height of sophistication. From $3,000. Available through bocci.ca. – Alex Bozikovic
BOMBA STOOL: Fugitive Glue, a three-year-old, Toronto-based collective, is trying to introduce a new phrase into the design lexicon: uphoarding. No, it’s not about haute ways of hiding too much clutter. The term takes the popular idea of upcycling (refurbishing a castaway item in an ingenious way) and applies it to the kind of junk that can easily be found in large, scrapyard-clogging quantities. Propane tanks, for example. The Bomba stool is an old, 30- to 40-pound cylinder, the kind commonly found on a Winnebago. After its valves have been removed and the insides sandblasted to get rid of any lingering chemicals, the bottom is lopped off, flipped and seamlessly welded to the top to create the graceful hourglass shape. The type of wood on the seat is customizable (it’s shown with laminated off-cuts of birch) as is the finish of the canister – it can be painted, rustproofed or left to weather gracefully. $700. Available through fugitive-glue.com. – Matthew Hague
BRANCHES SCONCE: Twin brothers Lars and Jason Dressler – both engineers-turned-furniture-makers – are experts at creating poetry out of the prosaic. Crafted from discarded scraps of ash wood and salvaged hardware, their Branches Sconce has a lyrical aesthetic. The focus on sustainability is only part of the fixture’s altruism, however. The sconce is one of the pieces in the brothers’ Ash Out of Quarantine series, a sobering project meant to raise awareness of the up to one million ash trees that will be lost over the next five years in the Toronto area (where Lars and Jason live) because of an infestation of emerald ash borer beetles. The backstory might not be obvious just by looking at the light, but thanks to its inherent beauty, conversations (about its provenance, design and message) are sure to be started. $900. Available though brothersdressler.com. – Matthew Hague