Skip to main content

‘The Pacific Northwest has experienced a major design boom and we really need to recognize ourselves as world-class,” says Jody Phillips, IDS-Vancouver’s show director. That’s why, as one of the largest design shows on North America’s West Coast, IDS-Vancouver has made it its mandate to showcase artisans by positioning them on an international stage. Now in its 12th year, the international design show annually attracts 36,000 people to see 275 designers, speakers and distributors. “In addition to Vancouver’s hotbed of talent, we’re really excited about the Dutch Exchange: Eindhoven,” Phillips says, referring to an exhibition of experimental designers from the small city in the Netherlands. As well, headliners, such as British industrial designer Tom Dixon and L.A.’s award-winning interior designer, Barbara Barry, join the jam-packed roster roster. From 3-D printed furniture produced by a robot to bubble-inspired lighting, here’s a peak at a few show-stoppers.

Matthew McCormick

Recently awarded Industrial Designer of the Year by Western Living Magazine, Vancouver’s Matthew McCormick takes his inspiration for lighting shape and form “from anything – jewellery, garbage, even the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars,” he laughs. In fact, the former graphic designer and ad director created one of his most popular pendants by riffing on the idea of effervescence on a dinner napkin. Halo is a bold lamp inspired by the soft warm glow that bubbles exude. Machined and hand-finished, they are available in brass, copper, nickel and 24-karat gold. When suspended in a modular system, Halo pendants resemble a sculptural piece. For IDS-Vancouver, McCormick combines Dawn, Halo and Dodeca pendants for a spectacular ceiling installation.

(Prices upon request /

Dirk Vander Kooij

Playfully cheeky, Dutch Studio Dirk Vander Kooij’s furniture evokes an Alice In Wonderland response – “curiouser and curiouser” with products that are deceptively sculptural yet functional. When Vander Kooij couldn’t find any printers large enough, he built the first 3-D-printing industrial robot for furniture in his studio in Zaandam in the Netherlands. It spits out recycled plastic from synthetic leftovers from the tip of its robotic arm. Molten disposable plastic gets the sturdiness and strength of marble for his thick-lined Chubby Chair, acquired by MOMA in 2012. For Melting Pot Table, Vander Kooij explains, “I throw in old toys, melted pieces from refrigerators, a computer keyboard – just about anything and the result is a bold and stylish table with magnificent patterns and colours, and no two are the same.”

His new SnowMEN speaker set was designed with high-end speaker engineer, Henkjan Netjes, combining contemporary aesthetics with high-tech performance. Standing almost one-metre high and each weighing 65 kilograms, the speakers “allow the sound to spread in all directions, giving a mind-blowing sound experience,” Vander Kooij says. Frosty, take note.

(SnowMEN speaker set: $9,500 /

Danielle Hardy

Who says wall decals are only for nurseries and kids’ rooms? Vancouver graphic designer Danielle Hardy of UrbanWalls has created an international niche for every room in the house. “They’re wallpaper without the expense, and because the decals are made of vinyl and can be easily removed [but not reused], they’re great for renters,” she says. Dye-cut or printed in a spectacular array of colours including custom, a client in Beverly Hills, Calif., opted for flamingos in the master bedroom; another, palm tree decals in the living room, graphics in a loft and romantic “wall quotes” in a bathroom.

(With polka dots: from $45 / With elaborate flora and fauna: $45 to $250)

Douwe Jacobs

Tineke Beunders and Nathan Wierink

Designer Tineke Beunders, one half of Ontwerpduo, is the dreamer; Nathan Wierink, her partner in business and life, the mathematician. “It’s where the poetic and practical converge,” Beunders says from their studio in Eindhoven, where most of their quirky products are manufactured. The minimalist Novecento Collection is inspired by housewares used by their omas (grandmothers), then given a modern spin. A two-sided ash cutting board incorporates the perforations to catch the breadcrumbs; the steel- and powder-coated Cageling makes a popular indoor or outdoor perch. Premiering at IDS-Vancouver: Glow, a clear LED glass globe with white spots that slowly dissipate to a mesmerizing blue “glow” at night, lasts three hours after solar- or light-charging during the day.

(Glow is available in three sizes, table or ceiling-mounted: $360 to $580 / Cutting board: $74 / Cageling: $2,630 /

Brett Freund

Ceramicist Brett Freund’s vessels are cubist riffs on architectural structures that bring to mind Frank Gehry, pop art and even Turkish delight. Originally from industrial Pittsburgh (which also informs his designs), Freund prints the initial prototype in 3-D, then pours in painted liquid slip (clay) to create the moulds in porcelain. Freund then cuts and pastes large, gem-like chunks of clay in building blocks around each piece. Says Freund: “It’s a way to express my emotions and my moods reference the way I attach things with colour and thick black lines.”

(Vases and pots: $75 to $250 /

Ian Momsen

Andrew Perkins

Industrial designer Andrew Perkins of Fire Road in San Francisco brings new life to iconic and irreplaceable objects. His Profile Bottle Opener is so sleek, it’s as refreshing as the beverages it opens. The silky surface and substantial weight of polished Carrara marble feels cool in the hand and the rich anodized brass and silver frame form a durable gadget.

Fire Road’s Edge Dominos is a twist on the classic game that still retains the original number patterns, but resembles computer chips in Perkins’s design. Travel-sized and lightweight, the set is made from durable aluminum with a black anodized matte finish and laser-engraved, everlasting number patterns on the tiles. Comes in its own wooden box.

(Profile Bottle Opener: $65 / Edge Dominos: $160 /

mth woodworks

The award-winning Bloom Furniture Collection from mth woodworks brings the outdoors inside. Michael Thomas Host, of Vancouver, designs and handcrafts his pieces using salvaged cedar from B.C. rain forests after an area has been logged. It must be in his DNA (he’s the son of a forester) as he showcases the growth rings of tree stump slices, left raw, and sanded and encased in a mould made of resin from peanuts and soy. His Bloom art in the boudoir looks uncannily like Rorschach inkblots that must instigate lots of pillow talk.

(Bench: $5,500 / Art: $400 a square foot /

Michael Young

Burritt Bros.

Established in 1907, Burritt Bros., carpet purveyors in Vancouver, has partnered with the Museum of Vancouver (MOV) to bring a piece of history to home decor. The custom design team of Keith Donegani, Ainsley Jones and Nikola Boyd explored the storage vaults of MOV and discovered an evocative collection of seltzer bottles.

“They were delivered by horse and buggy to Vancouverites in the early 1900s, and we thought a colourful carpet would make a great homage to another tradition of hand-crafted goods,” Donegani says. Giving a Warhol vibe in the layout while staying true to archival colours, the Seltzer Bottle Rug incarnation is created from Himalayan wool and viscose or Chinese silk, dyed and woven by hand in Kathmandu. For each carpet sold, MOV receives a royalty toward its school-tour program.

Available in all standard and custom carpet sizes.

(Seltzer Bottle Rug (8 feet x 10 feet): $4,800 /

Peer Lindgreen

Tom Dixon

Award-winning British industrial designer Tom Dixon headlines IDS-Vancouver with the North American debut of his Caesarstone, multisensory Fire Kitchen. He was front and centre at Milan Design Week with four sculptural quartz working kitchens, inspired by earth, water, air and fire installed in the Restaurant. At IDS-Vancouver, a local chef will prepare in the Fire Kitchen blazing samples of food that have been smoked, seared and burned for exhibition-goers. The Fire Kitchen is inspired by charred wood and smoke, using blackened beams and hints of gold in combination with Caesarstone’s dramatic vanilla, noir, raven and coastal grey quartz. An accomplished chef himself, Dixon says from London: “There’s no secret that the kitchen is the most popular place at parties – everybody is a mini-celebrity chef these days.”

Dixon also partners with Inform Interiors for a pop-up retail store for his newly launched accessories to the public.

( /

Cameron Mathieson

Just like his beguiling, organically sculptural lighting installations seem to undergo a metamorphosis, so, too, has Nelson, B.C., designer Cameron Mathieson of Lightness experienced a life-changing catharsis. When he was studying photography at the Banff Centre in 1977, he was involved in a climbing accident in which his friend died. Following that, Mathieson began visiting Duncan Lake in B.C.’s Kootenays for inspiration. “I discovered a boneyard of windswept driftwood that I rescue by canoe several times a year.” Seeing anthropomorphic characteristics in the silvered wood, Mathieson transforms them with the addition of Japanese paper, pulp and resin over weeks and months of detailed labour.

(Prices from $1,500 to $20,000 /

IDS-Vancouver runs Sept. 22 to 25 at the Vancouver Convention Centre.