With design, we often start the conversation around the decor details that we can touch and interchange. However, the true beginning of any successful design is the structure and bones of the space, which are brought to life by the creative minds of architects. It is with their vision and mastery of their craft that some of the most stunning spaces in the city are present. This week we are bringing the spotlight to some of Vancouver’s top architecture firms; often out of the public eye, yet responsible for so much of our city’s stunning urban landscape, we are taking a look at the works of four design ‘dream teams’ that are beautifully impacting the aesthetic of Vancouver.
Evoke International Design:
Since 2000, the interdisciplinary approach to design that Evoke brings to the table has created their place and reputation as one of the most sought after firms in the city. The brand, founded by Robert Edmonds and David Nicolay, brings perspective from a multitude of design principles to their work and offer not only architectural expertise, but also spatial, interior and graphic design. It is the marriage of these elements that offer their clients a fully encapsulating experience. Outside of an impressive client roster for design that includes Pixar, Kit + Ace North American offices and stores, Bel Cafe at the Hotel Georgia and Heirloom Restaurant, Evoke also is responsible for conceiving and opening some of our city’s best neighbourhood haunts, like (my personal fave in the city) El Camino’s, The Union Bar Restaurant and Main Street Brewing, to name a few. Whether in their own restaurants or in the spaces of their clients, the signature style of Evoke remains clean, modern interiors, custom designed furniture combined with simple, vibrant graphics. The team shares, “We approach design from a collaborative point of view, and align ourselves with clients that share our modern aesthetic values and creative process. The resulting project should be a well-integrated design that doesn’t rely on overly trendy concepts: it is about composition and the combination of form, function and innovation to achieve the client-unique design objective.”
Scott & Scott:
The husband and wife duo behind the Scott & Scott architecture and design firm run their practice out of perhaps one of the most recognizable studios in the city, and by far one of my personal favourite spaces to pass by. The couple reinvented their home – a former old grocery store just off Main Street – to accommodate a street level studio for their firm to operate. The ingenious redesign includes a workshop for the completion of industrial design, proto-typing and material research. With a notable history with various prominent Canadian firms, the duo branched out on their own in 2012 and have since become an award-winning boutique firm: in 2014 they were awarded an Architizer A+ award for the design and construction of their Alpine Cabin project; in 2016 they were both awarded The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Young Architect Award and the Restaurant and Design Award for Best Americas Restaurant for Torafuku, and; in the spring of 2017 they were selected to present their work as a recipient of the Architectural League of New York’s Emerging Voices Award. Their breadth of work – which includes commercial, mixed use, restaurants, residential spaces in both urban and remote environments and also agricultural projects – has been widely recognized by worldwide design publications, including recent releases from renowned publishers Taschen, Gestalten and Phaidon.
Our city recently saw the opening of the impressive new Vancouver offices of boutique architecture and design firm, McKinley Burkart. The Calgary-based firm has established itself as an industry leader, with a self-professed “passion for contextual architecture, visionary design, and immersive brand strategy.” The firm’s Vancouver offices were a natural progression for the company, as both founding partners Walker McKinley and Mark Burkart have ties to our city, and their client roster is well-rooted in here – it includes many of Vancouver’s big names, such as Aritzia, Stanley Park and the team behind Herschel Supply Co. “Our vision for the Vancouver studio was to create a space that not only spoke to the McKinley Burkart identity but also embraced the essence of West Coast design, such as abstractions of coastal driftwood and metaphoric elements of the sea and coastline. Maintaining the history of the building was also key for us,” said founding partner Mark Burkart. The firm supported their interest in making the new Vancouver office integrally intertwined with our city’s creative community by including artwork from notable Vancouver artists such as Ben Skinner and Anthony Redpath.
Marianne Amodio Architecture Studio:
Spearheaded by the vibrant and effervescent architect, Marianne Amodio, the boutique firm plants itself comfortably in the realm between structure and playful creativity. Known for innovative ‘out of the box’ designs, MAAStudio is pushing the boundaries of how we approach dwelling spaces and (co)habitation in Vancouver. With a unique perspective on multi-resident spaces, the firm’s residential design centres on multi-family residential buildings, micro co-housing, and custom multi-family homes. “Architecture isn’t just for the elite,” says Amodio. “It can live in the mid-range zone.” Looking to that concept, MAAStudio is forward-thinking with their fundamental principles – the belief that modern design should speak to more than just aesthetic, but also to the social, environmental and affordability issues facing our community. Stepping away from ‘serious’, Marianne has been described by a client as possessing the ability to “…magically transform ordinary spaces and humble materials into places of poetic beauty.”