Welcome to the world of lighting decor. Real design pros will tell you that attention to lighting detailing and fixtures separate the pros from the amateurs where serious design is concerned. So if you're design savvy, you might find yourself surfing a lot online searching for the perfect lighting design for your home or place business. We thought we'd save you the time and get the scoop on the very best lighting stores in Vancouver. Here are our top three shops; the buzz-worthy business owners who either create their own designs or are "totally lit up" when it comes to lighting design.
Toby Barratt, Pamela Goddard and Nik Rust are a trio of talented designers who together (with creative director Sebastian Curadeau) run the independent lighting design studio Propeller Design in Vancouver. Propellor designers are pretty outgoing — and seem like the type of professionals who are that great blend of confident in their designs yet comfortable taking client feedback as they create projects. Their products are artistic, functional, and bonus: eco-friendly! Their rates are also quite reasonable. I would never have expected that you could get a good designer lamp for the prices that they offer.
We asked Propellor’s designer and partner Toby Barratt some questions:
YVRE: Which of your lighting solutions are you really proud of?
TB: "When you make things, you can’t help but invest a lot of energy into the process. A good dose of imagination, problem solving, and elbow grease are invested in each of our designs, and as a result we can’t help but feel a certain pride in each of them. What’s interesting is that each new design that we create has its own personality — its own strengths and special qualities.
A light like our Meridian, for instance, is so versatile. It is simple in form, clean and modern, and it functions well in a variety of spaces and situations. It is equally at home in a large public space — say a hotel lobby or restaurant — as it is in a residential dining room or living room. It is a versatile design that can be scaled in size, hung alone or in groups, and can be made in a variety of materials and colours.
A recent lighting design that we are really happy with is called the Mycologic. Our work is often informed by our observation of nature and the Mycologic light is no exception. The Mycologic is a light sculpture inspired by our study of mushrooms and the mycelial networks that spawn them. We craft each Mycologic from solid walnut and light it with LED lights."
YVRE: What were the most challenging projects for your studio?
"Occasionally a long-time client will come to us with a problem that they are having difficulty solving. We have designed a trophy for Alcan, milled from a solid block of aluminum, and an artwork inspired by the humble Mosquito for LuluLemon. I suppose these projects were challenging, not ridiculous, although in both cases the timelines were completely crazy."
When you talk one on one with people from Propellor, you can feel immediately that they really know what they’re talking about and that they have a passion for their work. As the designer lighting scene in Vancouver grows, our bets are on Propellor to lead the pack. And of course the best part is... supporting local design! Who needs European styles from Italy or France when you can have something modern and high quality built right here.
YVRE: What is your vision of the next five to ten years of Propellor design?
"Our goal from the start has been to create beautiful, useful, and enduring work. Design is a great discipline to be in in the 21st century as the tools of industry become easier for small companies like ours to access for creating carefully considered, small-batch products. We want to blend our love of beautiful materials, our penchant for the tactile, and the analogue in design with the latest digital technologies. We want to continue to grow just enough to always have new creative opportunities opening up before us. Our digital age allows us to find markets for our work around the world, but we like to work close to home as well, collaborating with our clients and colleagues to make meaningful work.
Five to ten years from now, we will be continuing to expand the range of our skills, thinking, and creativity to take on larger projects. In the past five years we have established ourselves as lighting designers, we have designed and curated three major exhibitions for the Museum of Vancouver and we have exhibited our sculptural work in museums in NYC and France. The future holds many more creative challenges."
If you want to see more of Propellor’s designer work, they will be exhibiting spatial and experiential design for an upcoming exhibition at the Museum of Vancouver. The show delves into the history of sexuality in Vancouver and is called Sex Talk in the City. It opens (appropriately) on February 14th.
Phone: 604 682 6665
Looking for something to do on a Saturday? Inform Interiors has two large showrooms perfect for your perusal in Gastown, located at 50 and 97 Water St., PLUS a newly opened Trade showroom on 405 Railway. You can check out all kinds of great stuff, from great lighting to all the little extras (like Italian kitchens by Boffi and closets by Poliform and Rimadesio).
The staff at Inform Interiors is very helpful, knowledgeable and relaxed. You can take your time as you wander the rooms and get any questions answered that you have about the designs. One of the great things about Inform is that although they have a ton of high-end designer pieces, the staff will help you find the items and pieces for your design budget.
Robyn York from Inform Contract showroom revealed one of the most popular items on sale in 2012 and another that she feels will be a bestseller this year.
"The Bocci 28 Series by Local Designer Omar Arbel, manufactured here in Vancouver, is one of last year’s bestsellers. New to our showroom, the Bocci 28.61, which is the largest single pendant I have seen of this series and the most luxurious, retailing at $50,325. While this one has a large price tag, there are many that are very reasonable — it is a fun line to be a designer yourself and create your our custom chandelier for your custom budget!
Our newest product that is sure to be a hit, Soft Architecture was launched last April 2012 in Milan, and we are pleased to be the first in Western Canada to get our hands on the products. The primary light source for the recently released Architectural and Soft Architectural products are LED, with excellent colour rendering and lumen output."
Soft Architecture is probably going to be one of the hottest lighting solutions not only on the Vancouver market but also across Canada. The new products represent an evolution of the traditional lamp: they hide behind and integrate with plasterboard false ceilings or insert into vertical walls for surreal and unexpected results. Styles and objects span a variety of locales from domestic settings to public spaces such as restaurants, spas, stores, meeting points, art galleries, and offices.
Last but not least, a couple of handy tips when shopping at Inform: they usually stock smaller and more popular items. Lighting takes typically three to four weeks to bring in; however, some European manufactures require more time for transit and Canadian certification. Also, their 2-week return policy varies depending on the product and whether or not it was in stock or ordered for you when you purchased it.
Phone: 604 682 3868
Provide Home Decor is one of Vancouver’s most carefully managed designer product businesses in Vancouver. Owners David Keller and Robert Quinnell have been hand-picking all the products at their store for more than five years now, to great acclaim by Vancouverites.
Most of Provide’s stock is modern and luxurious. The majority of the products fit together style-wise, so you never have to worry about putting together the right set or pairings. (If you do however, Provide also offers design services). Believe us: Provide will make your home look streamlined and well thought out — even if you weren't what you really wanted. Their rates decent and they go above and beyond the call of duty to make sure clients are happy
Provide revealed to us their secret weapon and most popular product:
It is the Niche Modern Lighting, from company based in New York. We usually have most of the items from Niche on stock, but it’s always very easy to order whichever you pick from our offer. It takes four to six weeks — sometimes even less.
With clean, simple lines, Niche combines sensuous hand-blown glass with exposed filament bulbs that will redefine your space. You can check out Niche lighting (by Provide) at Cafe Medina and Chambar, 2 of the city's culinary hot spots.
Provide also runs EDIT, an inspiration blog where they post ideas and images for design and decor fans. We highly recommend it — it’s full of great fodder and if you’re looking for inspiration, will give you a good start.
Phone: 604 632 0095