Vancouver explores sustainability through design

Now in its 20th year, the Vancouver Interior Design Show offers west-coast design lovers a deep dive into what’s new and next in western, cross-Canadian and international style.

The theme of the 2023 edition was “Moving Parts,” exploring the concept of sustainability and how it may be practically applied to every stage of the design process from initial conception and raw material sourcing to final delivery.


Brent Comber Originals


Brent Comber Originals | Photo: Martha Uniacke Breen

But there was also a distinctly West-coast flavour to the show that could best be summed up as a celebration of the sheer beauty of natural materials – stone, coral, wood, greenery. That included our personal favourite show “moment”: B.C. artist Brent Comber’s towering sculpture made from a salvaged urban tree, carefully stabilized and refinished and upended to rest on its limbs, so that it seemed ready to rise and stomp away at any moment.


Knight Varga


Photo: Knight Varga Interiors (with Aya Kitchens). 

Just as with IDS’s sister show in Toronto, the big brands like Caesarstone and Miele had a strong presence, and IDS is still a great place to connect with designers and design-forward items for the home. One of the more attractive booths was the full-size kitchen display by the Vancouver duo of Knight Varga, in tandem with Aya Kitchens.

According to Trish Knight, who along with partner Nicole Varga makes up the team, the cabinets feature a new profile that’s a sleeker version of Shaker, and a custom colour called Ice Formation, one of an array of new shades for 2023 from Aya. Knight mentioned she particularly likes Dekton for counters, since it mimics marble better than any other engineered stone but is so strong it can be made in a narrower 1/2” width (which lowers costs) and in longer lengths.


Geist Design Mill


Geist Design Mill | Photo: Martha Uniacke Breen 

But perhaps the best reason to attend IDS is the chance to discover smaller artisans and creatives, who often line the outer edges or hold smaller booths scattered around the show floor. One of our favourites in this category was Geist Design Mill’s “driftwood” door, moulded out of engineered concrete. According to sculptor Gavin Geist, the piece is actually only 1/4-inch thick, making the door no heavier than an average solid wood one.


Lock & Mortise


Lock & Mortise | Photo: Martha Uniacke Breen

According to the furniture maker Lock & Mortise, whose handcrafted Summit dining table features a central lazy Susan and a rich hand-rubbed finish, the company is striving to make its Abbotsford factory net zero. Though they’re not quite there yet, they’re getting close: sawdust is sent to a local mushroom farm; offcuts and scrap wood are sold as fuel for wood burning or sent to schools for woodworking projects, and everything the company uses is sustainable and recyclable except for the packaging. (And they encourage their customers to do that themselves.)


Aux Box


Aux Box | Photo: Martha Uniacke Breen

Vancouver Island-based Aux Box creates custom tiny prefab homes that, once ordered and custom-built for each customer, can be delivered by crane to the site – no foundation needed! The show house was surprisingly roomy for a box that was only about a hundred square feet; it would be perfect as a guest house or a temp home while building a cottage.




 Obakki | Photo: Martha Uniacke Breen 

Obakki, the Vancouver design retail and online store known for its sourcing of ethically made items from all over the world, had two showcases at VIDS. The first was devoted to textiles from Turkey, where the factory that works with the company was destroyed by the recent earthquake there. One hundred percent of the proceeds from sales at the show will be sent to the factory to aid in recovery efforts.



Obakki Cyrc | Photo: Martha Uniacke Breen 

But the other Obakki-supported display, located near the entrance, was sheer cool: nestled in a stylized grassy marsh, a range of vases and other objects by Montreal-based Cyrc, that were 3-D printed from food packaging and plant-based plastic. The full range, available through the Obakki site, will eventually include home products and even furniture.



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