Thursday, 30 September 2010

IDIBC by Amber Kingsnorth



In preparing for our up-coming meet-up of Vancouver Island IDIBC members and potential members, Ivan was kind enough to ask me to write a little something about why designers would want to join this group.  Good question, Ivan!


What many people may not know is that IDIBC has recently changed their membership categories and requirements, making it more accessible to a larger group of designer’s and design-related industry professionals.  There are four main groups of membership available:


Professional – This level of membership is reserved for Interior Designer’s who have passed the NCIDQ exam and maintain a specific level of Continuing Educational requirements set out by the Institute.  Professional members are permitted the use of the designation of Registered Interior Designer (RID).


Provisional – These are members who are currently working in the field of interior design and who have completed the educational requirements for eligibility to write the NCIDQ exam.  These members must also meet Continuing education requirements and must have plan to write their NCIDQ exam following the required years of experience.


Student – Members who are enrolled in an approved educational program for Interior Design.


Associate – This is the new member category allowing those working in design or related fields to be a part of IDIBC.  These members do not have to meet the educational requirements of the other categories but are selected by the Board of Directors based on their submitted resume and portfolio.  This is a welcome addition to the IDIBC member group since there are so many talented and vastly experienced designers in BC who previously were not eligible for membership.


Although the presence of the Institute on Vancouver Island has not been strong over the past few years, Kyla and I are not alone in feeling that this is a great time to shake things up and get involved! There has been a major resurgence in the cooperative spirit of the design community recently (for which we thank Ivan among others), which is a great inspiration.  Not to mention that Vancouver Island is home to one of only two Interior Design Bachelor Degree programs in BC, at Nanaimo’s Vancouver Island University.


There are many benefits to becoming a member which you can read about on the IDIBC website ( but as with anything, you get out of it what you put in.  The more active members that we have on the island, the more attention island designer will get!  This is a great opportunity to expand your support network, connect with the community, keep up to date on trends, techniques and innovations and did we mention have a great time?  


We have had a great response for this Friday’s event, which will be taking place at Only Human Modern Furniture (616 Yates St.) at 5:00pm.   This will be an opportunity to discuss how a Vancouver Island Chapter would operate and what the members would like to see the chapter undertake.  If you’re interested in attending this or up-coming events we would love to hear from you.  Please email for more info or to RSVP to Friday’s event. 

MEADE DESIGN GROUP - THE BLOG. Copyright 2007-2011

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Eye Candy of the Week – Bulle Argent Cooler by Christofle





Champagne Cooler – Bulle Argent






Sterling Silver



H 26.7 cm X  L 26.3 cm



Last week, while I was away from the studio recovering from surgery, I was very fortunate to receive lots of beautiful an unexpected care packages from my favourite friends.  Lots of encouraging words, positive vibes, warm thoughts, beautiful flower arrangements, great trashy magazines, tv series, orgasmic desserts, pure vanilla ice cream – the way to my heart, a wonderful home-made soup, a fantastic portrait of my favourite girls in the world, a stunning watercolour kit, pyjamas, and the list of love keeps going and going without an order of preference.  I have to say that I felt and I still feel really special and loved and quite spoiled which I kind of like.


One of the care packages I received contained a beautiful handmade card with a “lucky penny”, a box of Thomas Haas Chocolate Truffles and a Vintage 2000 bottle of Dom Pérignon – What can I say, I was speechless when It got delivered to my front door in this extravagant and beautifully presented package - Anyhow, I have never had a Vintage bottle of anything in my life, so I am planning to celebrate in the near future my fight and share it with all my wonderful friends.  But guess what? I don’t have a Champagne Cooler, so I decided that I deserve a good b-day present (to myself) and I found this champagne cooler that is going to be with me for the rest of my life, and It will become a memory of all my friends.



C’est La Vie !!!

MEADE DESIGN GROUP - THE BLOG. Copyright 2007-2011

Monday, 13 September 2010

In Conversation with Albarosa Simonetti

albarosa at window2 2Albarosa Simonetti


Albarosa Simonetti is one of my dearest blogger friends from Vancouver. Her blog, Brillante Home Décor, discusses topics in the most elegant way imaginable such as interiors, art, photography, home staging, interviews, and everything Italian! She also has a second blog about her travels, Brillante Design Travel, about her adventures around the globe seeking out fine art and experiences - it is a personal goal of mine to Travel with Albarosa, she is one of the most knowledgeable colleagues I have had the pleasure of meeting.


Albarosa was raised in Milan, Italy, so she not only admires Italian design, she has lived it. When you combine her Italian upbringing with her current life in Vancouver, naturally, her designs are a wonderful fusion of sleek, contemporary lines and traditional Italian details - with a West Coast flair. Her skills have certainly not gone unnoticed, back in Milan Albarosa was a teacher in Art and Humanities at Ateneo Artistico (now the Interior Design Institute e Ateneo e Creativo), and is also a member of the Contemporary Art Society of Vancouver. Albarosa's stunning photography has earned her a place as director of the Vancouver Association for Photographic Arts and as a board member at Exposure Gallery.


I am so pleased to have the opportunity to pick Albarosa's brain about all things art and design, and to introduce her warm personality to any of my readers who have not yet discovered her work and her blog. Please read on to get in on the conversation….


Iván Meade - What was your first experience with design?


Albarosa Simonetti - If you mean “Was I arranging furniture when I was five?” No, my sister did it for me!


Even if growing up I was always very interested in Interior design, textiles, fine art, antiques, I started late in life to be deeply involved in it. However, my family influenced me aesthetically. One of my mother’s passions was painting and she was an interior designer at heart, supervising and managing restoration of our various homes. My father’s passion was collecting fine art; he was always coming home with new finds, and as far back as I can remember, he used to take me to museums and galleries. Travel also had a huge influence on me, having been several times to Africa, Paris, Greece, London, Thailand, Brazil and other countries, seeing different cultures, hearing different music, appreciating different styles of architecture. I always lived in well designed and decorated houses. My sister is very talented in this regard and always had the most beautiful houses, and my niece is a successful architect. In short, interior decoration runs in my blood. I grew up with it, I lived it, I breathed it, and today I thrive in it.


Vignette8 Vignette by Albarosa Simonetti


Iván Meade - You always respect the traditional with a fusion of modernity.  I believe this is what makes your style.  How do you achieve this?


Albarosa Simonetti – I love to incorporate layers, mixing new pieces and family heirlooms, classic and contemporary, expensive pieces and inexpensive ones, which I often source at flea markets and garage sales. I don’t have a preferred style in design, but for sure I’m not a minimalist. I love different styles as long as they are comfortable and inviting.


When possible I like to put unexpected or humorous touches in a décor. But, I don’t want a house to be perfect or show my own signature, it needs to reflect the client’s taste and personality.


Interiors project3 Interior Design by Albarosa Simonetti


Iván Meade - What do you look for in a furniture piece? Or, in other words, you are very selective in what goes into your designs, what makes a piece important enough to be used in your projects?


Albarosa Simonetti – We live in difficult times, exposed to the world’s and the earth’s suffering, often under stress ourselves. So at home we need to be surrounded by happy memories of our family, our traveling, and what we love. My approach: I don’t like rooms too designed or over-decorated. Comfort is a priority. For example, sofas and chairs need to be very comfortable even when formal. As well, a piece of furniture should last a long time, in terms of both structure and style. I always advise my clients to buy less but, over time, to buy quality.


In Interior decoration atmosphere is also very important: it is created by colors, lighting, and accessories. Personal belongings, books, family pictures carefully edited, and fresh flowers: these and other elements give soul to a room. A house needs to tell a personal story, not show how good a designer is. My role is to help clients to achieve individuality. I like placing art on the walls, including black and white photography; it adds a graphic punch in any room. I have a collection in my own bathroom: some mine, others by famous photographer. But don’t forget to keep an eye on the mattes for signs of dampness.


Interiors project8Interior Design by Albarosa Simonetti


Iván Meade - There is a European influence in your timeless interiors, they are not just beautiful and contemporary, but they are also very liveable.  How do you achieve that?


Albarosa Simonetti - Having lived most of my life in Milan, I was exposed from an early age to art, architecture, design, beauty and culture. I still spend several months a year there scouting and sourcing, buying pieces to send to my clients or just discovering new trends and visiting iconic places. It’s always a visually intense experience, stimulating ideas, making me rethink the past and look into the future. I try to transmit this in every interior I create, they should reflect the past and the present, have a solid traditional base and new contemporary elements, and I try to avoid the latest trends, since you can’t change your sofa like you do with your shoes.

 In progress

Interior Design by Albarosa Simonetti


Interiors project6Interior Design by Albarosa Simonetti


Iván Meade - Your photography is exquisite - I read in your blog that you really enjoy traveling and use your own photography for inspiration, how does this affect the outcome of your designs?


Albarosa Simonetti – Photography is a passion, again discovered later in life. I’m on the board of the Vancouver Association for Photographic Arts and was for eight years on the board of Exposure Gallery, in Vancouver. I also belong to the century-old Circolo Fotografico, in Milan. To go back to your question: Photographers need an exercised “eye” for composition, scale, shape; an understanding of colors or shades of black and white and everything in between. They need to look at texture, sources of light. Wait a moment: am I talking about photography or interior decoration? As you can see, they’re the same process of visual stimulation.


Paris4 Photograph by Albarosa Simonetti


Iván Meade - I love the fact that you still use your Leica Rangefinder - Do you also have a digital camera or are you a purist?


Albarosa Simonetti - I confess I was utterly against digital for years, but eventually gave in to it for my interior decorating business. But for my fine art photography, I remain a purist and use my Leica Rangefinder, a film camera. I prefer black and white for the atmosphere and the mystery it can create. My pictures are all custom print silver gelatin on fiber-based paper; the process makes them truly archival and collectible. Film is my favourite also because I need to have negatives in my drawers and a contact sheet in my hands so I can choose the best pictures to print. I always need something tangible. I believe black and white digital is not quite there yet, unless you spend a fortune in scanners and printers (up to hundred thousand dollars). Is digital archival? We still don’t know if in 100 years digital prints will be intact; certainly color ones will be totally gone, while black and white prints endure.


ParisPhotograph by Albarosa Simonetti


Iván Meade - What is your approach to lifestyle, photography and design?


Albarosa Simonetti – I love life and I love style: both must blend together. Life must be fully lived, and style must be full of life, otherwise it becomes pure appearance. As for photography, although I appreciate the new conceptual approach and every form of experimentation, if something hangs on your walls it needs to give you pleasure or inspire thoughts or tell a story. Design must be function first and form second. Too often designers want to épater le bourgeois, so they create stunning furniture but at times impossible to use.


Paris3 Photograph by Albarosa Simonetti


VancouverPhotograph by Albarosa Simonetti


Iván Meade - I noticed how much you love all things Italian, and how much you embrace your Italian heritage.  What is the biggest difference you perceive between Canadian Design and Italian Design?


Albarosa Simonetti – I was born, grew up and spent most of my life in Milan, Italy, so obviously I am Italian wherever I live but I have a great appreciation for the North American way of life: not a bad combination of cultures, I would say. As to your question, the gap is closing rapidly. North Americans are becoming more creative, more appreciative of new ideas. Nevertheless, it’s intriguing that Italians and other Europeans, with centuries of culture behind them, are often more innovative than North Americans, at least in interior design. Creation and production are deeply linked in Italy, and innumerable designers have been discovered and nurtured by Italian companies, turning them into international icons.


Vignette7 Vignette by Albarosa Simonetti


Iván Meade - I am a big fan of your blog.  Every time you blog about Italy or you go to Milan I want to be there with you and share your experiences - What has been the best experience of being a design blogger?


Albarosa Simonetti – If I was not a blogger, Iván, we probably never would have met and this interview wouldn’t have happened, right? The human connections are the best part of blogging.


Like artists, Interior designers generally work in solitude, so it’s important to have a venue where you can exchange ideas. I started my blog less than two years ago, timid and uncertain of the path I was taking. But after only a few posts I discovered I was mostly talking about Italian style, so I embraced this focus in a natural way.



Interior Design by Albarosa Simonetti


Iván Meade - Who would you like to design something for?


Albarosa Simonetti – I would love to design something “with” a child or “with” a teenager to give them a sense of style and harmony at a young age. I said design with because they would need to express their personality and I would just guide them. I would encourage them to use their favourite colors, showing them a harmonious combination, to attach posters on the walls but I would also encourage them to choose some interesting art that would stimulate new interests and ideas.


Interiors project5Interior Design by Albarosa Simonetti


Iván Meade - What is your newest venture in design?


Albarosa Simonetti – Something to do with interior decoration but different than design: I was approached in Venice to take charge of selling a collection of antique European furniture and fine art, a very daunting job as it includes pieces of high value, artistically and financially.


2010 247 “part of the collection”


I’m currently setting out the steps to be taken and the people to contact.


The Simon 002Interior Design by Albarosa Simonetti


Iván Meade - You have already created a stunning body of work with many mediums and styles, what would you like your legacy to be?


Albarosa Simonetti – Legacy? I feel like I’ve just started. Let’s talk again in 10 years. My mission, though, is to make my clients happy every time they walk into their house. I always tell them, use every room every day, and live your house 365 days a year. So, for example, if you don’t have guests every month, you may not need a guest room; use it for another purpose. Surround yourself with beautiful things that you love, always put some unexpected or humorous touch in your décor, use the best china and silverware daily. Life is not a rehearsal.


Lastly, having myself become a photographer and an Interior decorator later in life, would like to say to everyone reading this, “Follow your passion now, it’s never too late.”


I invite you to visit Albarosa Simonetti’s website and blog at:



MEADE DESIGN GROUP - THE BLOG. Copyright 2007-2011

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Eye Candy of the Week – Demianka Tea Set by Hermès





Demianka Tea Set






Sterling Silver



I love the incredible sculptural quality of this tea set – Unfortunately there is not much information about the piece on line.  It definitely contains the elegant lines and traditional craftsmanship of Hermès


Hint! Hint! my birthday is at the end of October ;)



C’est Magnifique !!!

MEADE DESIGN GROUP - THE BLOG. Copyright 2007-2011

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

In Conversation with Leah Rourke



Leah Rourke is a prominent fixture in Victoria's design scene; she is an avid twitter-er and facebook-er, you can also look her up on LinkedIn, and find her within several organizations including IDIBC, BNI, and IIDA. You can always count on seeing her friendly face at any designer nights, product launches or networking events. Leah is also a registered designer (which means she has completed the NCIDQ), and has received seven Silver Care Awards for her work in design. You may have already seen some of Leah's work in Kitchen Trends, Bathroom Trends, Style at Home, or the coffee table book BC's 100 New Pioneer Women Entrepreneurs 2008.


Truly BC bred, Leah was born in the Queen Charlotte Islands and raised on the sunshine coast, she then went on to get her education right here on the island at Vancouver Island University (formerly Malaspina University-College) where she graduated with honours in 2003. After receiving her diploma in interior design, Leah worked with a Nanaimo-based design firm where she gained experience with high-profile projects throughout BC and Alberta before making the big leap to open her own business with a colleague in 2005, Pure Design Firm upon receiving an offer to design a BCCF Lottery Home. In February 2008, Leah opened her own firm, Rourke Design Group, with a new 2,200 square foot location which not only houses her studio, but also a new store, "Relish" which is opening very soon. Needless to say, Leah's leaps of faith have led her down a pretty successful path.


Rourke Design Group runs the gamut of design offerings, including residential, hospitality, retail and commercial services. Her team's designs are definitely inspired by her west coast upbringing and feel warm, comfortable and sophisticated.


I'm very pleased to have this interview to promote our local talent; please read on to get in on the conversation….


Iván Meade - What is your favourite local find? Where did you get this item – how long have you had it?


Leah Rourke – An Art Deco Display Cabinet that I found on Used Victoria about 3 years ago. 


Dining Interior Design by Rourke Design Inc


Iván Meade - Why is it important/inspirational to you?

Leah Rourke – It was a diamond in the rough. I love transforming something from lacklustre to beautiful.


Kitchen Interior Design by Rourke Design Inc


Iván Meade - How does this item reflect upon your personal design philosophy?


Leah Rourke – It is exactly how I approach interior renovations or refurbishments; by seeing the potential beauty in a space before it is transformed into something amazing.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Interior Design by Rourke Design Inc


Iván Meade - What was your first experience with design?


Leah Rourke – It sounds so cliché, but I used to change my bedroom around every week or two. I would stack my bed up on top of two dressers so I had a place to hang out underneath it. I begged my parents to let me cut a hole in the back of my closet so I could get to the next room easier. I was always fascinated by space planning. I won a contest to help design the new high school in grade 8 and even created full sized floor plans of my vision for the new school. It wasn’t until I went to an information session at Vancouver Island University in 2000 that I really understood the depth of interior design, and I enrolled in the program immediately.


Living Room Interior Design by Rourke Design Inc


Iván Meade - Who or what has influenced your style?


Leah Rourke – I take influence from everywhere and everyone. I have never had a favourite designer, and I’m not even sure that I have my own “style” exactly. I like clean, simple designs with a touch of time-honoured elements like my new crystal chandeliers with their traditional form but glossy black finish.  

 Thetis Living Interior Design by Rourke Design Inc


Iván Meade - What is your approach to lifestyle and design?


Leah Rourke – Lifestyle is the single most important factor when creating a design, in my opinion. Who is the client, how do they live? How will they interact with the space? How will the space reflect them? It is never about my style when I am designing for a client, it is about helping them understand their style and incorporating into their home or workplace.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Exterior Design by Rourke Design Inc


Iván Meade - What project has given you the most satisfaction?


Leah Rourke – I had the opportunity to do some conceptual work for a proposed Ronald McDonald House in Victoria that would have been a place for families of sick children to get away from the hospital for a week and enjoy their families. Although it never got beyond the concept stage, I was fortunate enough to get to travel to Calgary to visit a Ronald McDonald House there and meet some of the kids that would have been able to use the house. It is impossible to explain how insignificant you feel when you meet these kids. It puts life into perspective and encouraged me to think about designing interiors from a different point of view. I would love to be involved with a project like that again.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Interior Design by Rourke Design Inc


Iván Meade - What do you think most Victoria homes are missing?


Leah Rourke – Me!


Thetis Kitchen Interior Design by Rourke Design Inc


Iván Meade - Do you think Victoria is ready for a change?  Where do you see things going in the next ten years?


Leah Rourke – I think Victoria is ever changing. It may not be as fashion forward as other Canadian cities, but people are starting to think outside the box. People are finally giving themselves permission to go outside their comfort zones and I think that is very exciting. I would like to see people in Victoria getting more in touch with their personal style – their lifestyle. I would like to see more mixing of genres in order to accomplish that style if necessary. It is one thing to be influenced by the Jones’s, but you’ve got to find a way to make it yours. 

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Interior Design by Rourke Design Inc


Iván Meade - What is your newest venture in design?


Leah Rourke – I am going to be opening a furniture and home accessories store this fall. It will feature condo-friendly furniture and an eclectic mix of accessories, toss pillows and bedding. The showroom is going to be called Relish and is located at 1048 Fort Street, near the top of Antique Row. Along with the pieces in the showroom there are oodles of goodies that can be purchased via catalogue. It will also showcase window coverings of every shape, size and colour. This is something I have dreamt about all my life and I am so excited to finally be launching the store.


I am also going to be involved with a very exciting event happening at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria on September 29th. It is going to be a lecture series held over two days on Interior Design called “Let’s Talk Design”. My lecture will be called “Life is Too Short for Ugly” and will discuss how good design affects you mentally, emotionally and physically. It’s not just a lecture - it will be interactive and fun. Tickets will be $20 and more info will be available through the Art Gallery shortly.


Billiards Interior Design by Rourke Design Inc


Iván Meade - You have already created a stunning body of work with many mediums and styles, what would you like your legacy to be?


Leah Rourke –I never imagined myself as leaving a legacy before. I guess I would want people to know that they can accomplish anything as long as they truly believe it and follow their hearts with honesty and integrity.


Before & After Interior Design by Rourke Design Inc


I invite you to visit Leah Rourke’s body of work at her website:




MEADE DESIGN GROUP - THE BLOG. Copyright 2007-2011