As seen in SNAP, October 2009
Robyn Meredith Bryson is one of the most long-standing design firms on the island, and also one of the most well-known. Her projects have been featured in The Times Colonist, Boulevard, BC Homes, Western Living and, most recently, (one of the greatest achievements for any designer ) in Architectural Digest. She has upheld an outstanding reputation with her clients and colleagues and continues to design projects unique to her client’s needs and style.
Robyn has a love for sourcing unique finds, mixing the old and the new in her projects to make each one original and distinctive. She works with her clients from concept to completion and takes careful consideration of the client’s environmental, preferential and lifestyle requirements. Her portfolio is filled with a wide range of endeavours, from residential to commercial, show homes to developments.
Please read on to learn more about this local talent.
Iván Meade - What is your favourite design find?
Robyn Meredith Bryson – New materials. I am always excited when I discover a new use for an old material or a new innovative building material. We've come so far over the years.
The Radius Residence
Iván - Why is it important to you?
Robyn Meredith Bryson – Such materials allow for all kinds of possibilities for fresh design ideas or perspectives. Could Frank Gehry possibly have created such innovative architecture without such materials being developed?
Iván - How does this item reflect upon your personal design philosophy?
Robyn Meredith Bryson – I always want to present the best to my clients. The most suitable and the most innovative concepts for their project. Sometimes when something new comes across my design radar, it is just the perfect answer for a certain challenge on a project.
Iván Meade – What was your first experience with design?
Robyn Meredith Bryson – Bill West's art class in high school and an architectural drafting course at the same time and then on to Vancouver School of Art. I began tackling some creative specific design challenges and loved it.
The Radius Residence
Iván Meade – Who or what has influenced your style?
Robyn Meredith Bryson – My Mother was probably the greatest influence. She was an elegant woman with superb taste and I grew up browsing through Architectural Digest which my Mother subscribed to as well as being surrounded with beautiful antiques and fabrics in our home.
Iván Meade – How would you describe your style?
Robyn Meredith Bryson – I am very versatile. I strive to create environments that reflect my clients rather than creating my own signature style. This allows me to be very intuitive and pushes me sometimes out of my comfort zone which is what I love about my business.
The Radius Residence
Iván Meade – What designers of past and present do you admire most?
Robyn Meredith Bryson – I love the flamboyant confidence of Dorothy Draper from the 1930s to the 1960s. Her look was dubbed "modern baroque" and she had a reputation for audaciousness. Also Sister Parish & her business partner Albert Hadley. These two women were in a way pioneers not just of design, but of the business of design. Currently, I admire so very much the work of Juan Montoya. He studied at Parsons School of Design which, in another life, would be my choice. He is "not wedded to one particular design or period. "The client and the space dictate what style I will be working in." "A Montoya room is never full" - something that I understand and identify with. I have learned to edit which requires great courage in the face of all the choices available today.
Beach Drive Residence
Iván Meade – What do you consider to be your greatest strength and your greatest weakness?
Robyn Meredith Bryson – My greatest strength is my attention to detail. My greatest weakness? Attention to detail. At times, it is something that those who work with me do not appreciate and this can be an obstacle to our working relationship - I can be difficult and stubborn about the details. However, on the completion of the project - then they "get it". I really do believe that the project is "won or lost" in the final 10%.
The Radius Residence
Iván Meade – You mention in your article featured in The Times Colonist regarding the Architectural Digest issue earlier this year that “As designers, we have to remember what we are creating... We can't get lost in the drama of the architectural details and forget that it is a home.”could you elaborate on that statement for us?
Robyn Meredith Bryson – Hmmm. Well, I love architecture. Maybe this is my real passion but that is not what I do, so I am sensitive to the potential for conflict between the dramatic architectural details, the scale of the structure, the finishes of the interior, and the human scale and the human requirement for nurture and warmth.
Example: vaulted ceilings are so dramatic and really add to the volume of any interior. In my opinion, they also potentially present issues with sound and warmth. So as a designer, I want to find a way to have both the drama and the warmth. Another example would be the volume of glass and other hard surfaces. To strike a balance so if the architecture presents an environment which may be more hard surfaces, how can we provide the warmth? Colour is often the simplest and most important way to provide this balance, but also area carpets and fabric panels will be a welcome addition to the space.
Iván Meade – I noticed in an image from the project featured in Architectural Digest that you included some sculptures from local artist Frances Sample. Do you like to source artwork locally as much as you can? If so, why is it important to you?
Robyn Meredith Bryson – Thanks for the question Ivan. It gives me a chance to speak about another one of my passions. I love to support local artists. Original art brings a magic energy to a space. When one browses the pages of Architectural Digest, it is evident that the carefully selected art is the focal point of any room. It brings a credibility and can be the glue that holds it all together. I love to introduce my clients to the possibility through the internet where many artists have web sites and also through the Art Rental at the Greater Victoria Art Gallery. It is one of the most gratifying parts of my career as a designer. I have, myself, an extensive art collection which feeds me visually, every day. I quote clients of mine " You have really introduced us to the world of art, which means a lot to both of us."
Iván Meade – How/why did you start your own firm? Could you tell me a little about the history of your company?
Robyn Meredith Bryson – Well, I started with my design consultation in the 1970's. My business name was "The Personal Touch - Designs For Living". I even manufactured a line of home accessories for a gift shop in Kerrisdale, in Vancouver. Later, I changed the name of my business to Robyn Bryson Design Associates and purchased a strata warehouse where I had a fantastic studio with offices above, staff, and I found myself managing staff as well as my design work. After several years of this, I decided to take close the studio and work from my home office. I hire support staff as I require it, under contract. This way, I am doing what I love which is design! I can work into the night doing drawings or research on the internet, sleep an hour later in the morning, answer emails the next morning in my p.j.'s and set my own schedule for the rest of the day! Divine, really!!
The Radius Residence
Iván Meade – What books are currently on your bedside or coffee table?
Robyn Meredith Bryson – Ahh. Well, for the last year I have been studying French language. At any time, I have several French language work books (I work at several at the same time), a huge French/English dictionary, and several books on French culture. Currently I am reading "French Women Don't Sleep Alone" which is a delightful and informative book about the subtle difference between the women of France and American or North American women. Of course it is an "idealized" version of "The French Woman". But I find it utterly charming and actually quite informative about the secrets of femininity. I am definitely an advocate of bringing back the charms of femininity which somehow may been lost along the way. After French, it will be all things Italian!
Edgecliff Estate Residence
Iván Meade – Your website mentions that you like to mix the old with the new, which can be an exciting experience - what is your favourite way to find antiques, markets, shops, auctions or..?
Robyn Meredith Bryson – I have a couple of great websites which I find are rich in the unusual finds. One is Vintage and Modern. (www.VandM.com) The other is Peking Lounge (www.pekinglounge.com) which is owned by two charming and savy guys in Vancouver. And of course, Paris France. I will be in Paris this September for the Maison et Objet design exposition which is always fantastic. I plan to spend some time in Montmarte at the antique and fabric markets where it is always a feast for the eyes. Three more weeks studying French near Marseille at a home-stay and I'll return to Victoria renewed and inspired, as always, with great design ideas and renewed energy.
Iván Meade – What are you excited about right now in the world of design?
Robyn Meredith Bryson – I am inspired by the new materials. The consideration to the safety and health of the environments that we create for clients. The young designers coming up who are fearless and unique in their approach to design.
Iván Meade – What project has given you the most satisfaction?
Robyn Meredith Bryson – Well, I love it all really. Small and large. It is a people business and I have been lucky to have wonderful clients. Even the very challenging ones, cause me to learn and grow. But I have to say, I have a Toronto client that I have worked with for about 12 years and he is the greatest! He is so creative, playful, and he loves the process. I have been so lucky to work with him. His home will featured on HGTV Top Ten in October. Also, the project that was featured in Architectural Digest was a wonderful challenge for me. Working with young clients in a unique setting on a project that constantly pushed me to be more creative and innovative was a wonderful experience.
Iván Meade – What would be your dream project?
Robyn Meredith Bryson – My dream project will be a boutique hotel in Barcelona or Paris; unlimited budget working for a charming, handsome, single man!! Yummmmm.
Iván - Can you tell me what your next design venture is?
Robyn Meredith Bryson – I have a wonderful project under way currently. We are just about to put in the building permit application. I have assembled a fantastic team and it is a great creative opportunity to create a very modern, completely new Asian theme restaurant. Very challenging but a wonderful creative opportunity for me and the team.
Iván Meade – Lastly, you have already created a stunning body of work in your own signature style. What would you like your legacy to be?
Robyn Meredith Bryson – Thank you Ivan, you are very kind. I would like my legacy to be a gentle smile that comes to the face of those who remember me, those people with whom I was able to work, sub-trades, contractors and clients alike. I always say to clients "when I leave your project please claim the space and all the ideas as your own but above all enjoy! I hope also, to have the opportunity to inspire and possibly teach some young enthusiastic design wannabe's to share the wealth of knowledge that I have gleaned over the 35 years in the business of design. And have some fun doing it!
I invite you to discover Robyn Meredith Bryson’s body of work at her website:
Iván Meade is a local designer and principal of Meade Design Group, a multidisciplinary interior and graphic design studio in the heart of downtown Victoria – www.themeadegroup.com