One of the more ambitious lighting installations we have tackled was completed this spring in the “Island Retreat” project. We had a lofty living and dining area which had some great artwork and furniture, all laying at eye-level and below. While the room has plenty of light, it just didn’t draw your eye up. We played with a few lighting design layouts above the dining table in attempt to fill the space, but nothing seemed to fit properly.
Nothing, that is, until we chanced upon the 28 series of lighting by Bocci. We have used Omer Arble’s Bocci fixtures in previous projects (the 14 series is great for a simple, understated lighting punch), but never had the opportunity to play with as much volume and colour range as the 28 series allowed for.
Our design began with some rough sketches and colour ideas. It soon became apparent that paper alone would not be enough, nor was the 3D computer model we were using to get a feel for the layout. We needed to go full-sized. We bought out the local supply of 6″ and 8″ foam balls (our apologies go out to all you crafters who went looking for large balls) and cut out a dining-table sized piece of foam-core.
Armed with tacks, a custom-colour chart from Bocci, string, ladders and a cleared-out office space, we set up a full-scale light installation.
After a couple of days of walking around this dangling array of spheres with our client, we decided it was ready for ordering. Each drop was numbered and a detailed installation guide was drawn up showing the location, colour and height of each glass ball. This guide went to Chris Rothery from OnlyHuman, our local Bocci dealer.
A few weeks later, the boxed lights arrived on-site and the installation began. Our electrical contractors had been working hard to get the wiring in place and once the last few glitches were ironed out we got to work with the nervous task of hanging 22 hand-blown glass globes.
The effort from all parties involved paid off. We were thrilled to see the final result!
Over the last few months, the Gulf Islands home in which our “Island Retreat” bathroom project was situated has been undergoing another major facelift: a new Kitchen and re-finished Living Room.
With the exception of a few small details, this project has now come to completion. Below is a brief overview of the Kitchen project:
We started this project with a high-end existing kitchen. It was well-used and well-loved but dark. A pantry storage area separated the kitchen from a stairwell flooded with natural light and views to the garden, while the copper-clad cabinets obscured most of the light from the transom windows.
Our new design began to take shape. The walls dividing the pantry and the old kitchen were removed and a new opening was cut through to the stairwell. We ran the new cabinets across the opening, gaining storage space while leaving plenty of light and glimpses of the gardens.
The stone choice for the features of this kitchen is ”Blue Louis” (or Luis Blue). Often marketed as a granite, but more correctly classified as a quartzite, this stone is quarried in Brazil and has some really intense and colourful patterns, reminiscent of the patterns in the cloud formations of Jupiter.
And a few images of the end result…
The backsplash is illuminated by LED tape light, recessed in a groove at the back of the Cambrian Black stone countertop. The material is Varia Ecoresin by 3-Form, one our favourite suppliers.
The cooktop hood fans are the Jupiter line by FuturoFuturo.
The chandelier (“Lacrime Del Pescatore” by Ingo Maurer) was assembled by Rich Poulin (me!) and Martine Kiliwnik, with artful input and inappropriate comments provided by Jeff Smith.
Back-painted glass and aluminum doors for the upper cabinets and the doors to the concealed book-shelves (under the bartop) were supplied through KSC Sales.
The project’s contractor was Gord Speed of GSpeed Construction. Electrical services provided byMcIntyre Electric Ltd.
Stay tuned for the Living Room!
Sometimes you just feel the need to share!
I will be posting short slideshows of our various projects, both the finished results and the “before and after” shots when they’re available.
follow this link to our YouTube channel…
I found myself browsing some of the design blogs the other night. Cell after cell of image clips, brief descriptions of new faucets, bathtubs, light fixtures, materials for walls, floors and ceilings…presented in an appealing grid. These pre-gleaned repositories of fine design are a great resource for cutting-edge products and can be useful in finding just the thing for a challenging space.
However, as I opened another link (a tub I thought was a great fit for a current project) I came to the realization that I can no longer, with any semblance of accuracy, differentiate the physical products (warehoused in Milan, Toronto or Fargo) from the pretty renderings that only exist on the screen.
The convergence of two technologies has blurred the line between the real and the imagined. The rise of hi-resolution digital imaging has allowed manufacturers to provide some incredibly crisp and clean photos of their products to customers. At the same time advances in modeling and rendering software have allowed the a pixel by pixel rendition of exactly what we would see had we personally been standing in the scene. The virtual world is now almost indistinguishable from the real one…and it’s freaking me out!
I am having a bit of an on-line existential meltdown to be honest. As a fan of modern design and a “how did they DO that anyway!” kind of guy, I like seeing products with a clean aesthetic…real, working products with a simple design, clean lines and working innards. I used to be able to tell the 3rd year Industrial Design Student mock-up (real or virtual) from the on-the-shelf product. All I see now is pixels. Call me old and bitter, but perhaps a warning label is in order here:
I guess all I’m saying is that I’m tired of being lured into the trap of the “concept bathtub”. Perhaps I’m being childish here, but until my virtual self (on-line avatar, matrix-me, etc.) can feel the virtual steam and soak in the virtual bubbly water, warn me before showing me things I cannot have!
Keep your eyes open in the coming year for a new locally-made surface for counter-tops. Environite is a glass-resin composite material made with post-consumer and post-industrial waste. Being billed as ” Sustainable Architectural Surfaces”, it is just that: non-porous, scratch-resistant and available in a variety of stock and custom colours. It isn’t limited to counter-tops either, with an ability to cast the material in a variety of forms, wall panels, fireplace surrounds and flooring uses are all possible. As a small company, the design, production and installation is all handled in-house, keeping overhead low and allowing for very competitive pricing.
Environite is currently being manufactured on Camano Island by John Carpenter and has been available locally through Des Carpenter. With an increase in local sales and ever-increasing transportation costs, they have started the process of opening up a local manufacturing facility, and are currently looking for a suitable location in the Victoria area. Future local sales will be handled by Kees Schaddelee with Des running the production shop.
If you’re looking for a beautiful solid-surface material for your next project, and want to rest easy knowing you are using a locally sourced, recycled material, this is a great choice.
We should be seeing samples at our offices soon so check in with us!
Sustainable Architectural Surfaces
desc (at) environite.com
kees.schad (at) environite.com
Do you hear that sound? That is the distant clamor of us blowing our own horns.
We now have two new trophies to light up the office this winter:
for the 3 new bathrooms in our Urban Retreat project.
for our Island Acreage project.
Our entries were but a small part of an amazing group of projects presented during the evening. There were some great contemporary buildings and interiors, and one custom craftsman-style home built by M.Knight Construction which swept most of the categories it was entered in. Congratulations to Michael and his crew and to all the other award recipients.
Our small island has more than its share of amazing talent, both in the design and construction fields. We look forward to another year of working with our familiar trades and suppliers and forging new relationships with other members of our great design and construction community.
We’re proud to announce our nomination for multiple categories in the 2011 CARE Awards! We have 7 silver awards (gold nominations) in 5 categories.
The British Columbia Home Builders Association of Vancouver Island “Construction Achievements and Renovations of Excellence” awards celebrate outstanding West Coast home design and interiors. This Friday, September 16th we will be sitting with a gathering of the best local designers, architects, contractors and marketing folks in our corner of the province.
This year we have nominations in the following categories:
Best Residential Renovation or Restoration $125,000 – $300,000
Best Bathroom Under 125 sq. ft.(2 entries)
Best Bathroom 125 – 175 sq. ft.
Best Interior – Residential Under 1,500 sq. ft.
Best Custom Millwork Under 4,000 sq. ft. (2 entries)
We look forward to a fine evening of wine and food at the Empress.
Bathrooms can be a “big deal”. They’re usually the last room you see before going to sleep, and the first one visited once you wake, bleary-eyed and wishing for the comfort of a warm bed. Their influence on your day should not be overlooked!
So what do you do when you have a client who wants something new and is willing to add some new life to a couple of functional but tired bathrooms? We took a bit of sparkle and some subtle undersea tones, suspended gravity for a while and gave the client a couple of bathrooms worth spending some time in.
We started with a Guest Bathroom. The room itself was quite spacious with lots of light from a large window (over the tub/shower and overlooking an interior shared courtyard…don’t get me started on that situation). The layout worked well for the space, so the plumbing fixtures needed only some small adjustments. Overall a nice canvas to work with.
After some initial hand sketches we had a layout that worked well. While the fixtures and finishes were being chosen the 3D model was developed. We find these models to be an indispensable tool for most clients. I think that we, as designers/architects/tradesmen sometimes forget that many people don’t have the same visual skill-set acquired from years of developing plans into physical spaces. These digital models allow us to display in a very visual (and easily changeable) form what we see in our head. We also use these simple models to review the overall feel for the room and to get an idea of where problems might occur during construction or finishing, check for conflicts in finishes etc.
In many cases the final result undergoes many changes from the initial sketches and model. This project was almost spot-on!
To control the privacy issues of the tub area we used a frosted glass panel, mounted on sliding hardware with a matching fixed panel of clear glass separating the tub & vanity. The vanity cabinets is made from a reconstituted wood product with a depth and swirled appearance that is similar to burl or figured maple. The glass sink is up-lit from the back with a single LED light, giving a beautiful glow with enough illumination for those late nights uses.
The Master Bathroom was fairly typical for the time, with quality fixtures (mid ’80s) and having undergone some updates over the years.
This room posed a bit of a problem. As an interior room it had no windows, no possibility for a skylight and just felt gloomy. We chose a bright white tile running floor to ceiling which brightened up the room. The shower was expanded a bit, and the plumbing moved to a central location.
The new vanity is suspended off the wall, with light flooding from concealed wells behind. The entire assembly seems to float in the space. The countertop is 1″ thick, mirror-backed resin and gives a great illusion of depth.
Here’s a small 2-piece bathroom that was being used primarily for storage. The owner wanted a convenient Powder Room for here guests and came to us for some help in making the space something special.
We’ll let the pictures speak for themselves…
For a lot of people an oven is simply a place to cook the occasional turkey or little Billy’s yearly birthday cake. For most students it’s a place to store the pots and pans. For the more culinary-minded the sight of a 60″ gas range with multitudes of gleaming dials and grills is enough induce a Pavlovian response before the cooking has even begun. These commercial grade appliances have their place, and can give a functional kitchen a truly professional look.
However, sometimes we want an appliance that performs well but is sleek enough to assimilate into the cleaner look of modern or euro-styled kitchens. In the best-case scenarios they will almost disappear entirely.
A new type of oven has emerges in the past few years. The “Lift Oven” provides a sleek oven housed between upper cabinets or attached to a wall, with a bottom that lowers to bring the food to counter-level while maintaining oven temperature.
Three manufacturers offer slight variations on this theme: the Gaggenau 235, Siemens Liftmatic, and Bosch Liftmatic all share a similar footprint and layout with minor differences.