Monday 30 April 2012


As seen in SNAP Victoria – May 2012



Deanna Sellyeh


Today I have the opportunity to introduce readers of SNAP! and the blog, to a new talent in town. Fresh from Vancouver Island University, interior designer Deanna Sellyeh has recently come to Victoria to bring her unique design approach to our neighbourhood.


Deanna was born in Ontario, but moved around a lot growing up, spending time in Bermuda and the Yukon. After high school, she went to the University of Ottawa (fun fact I must interject: her job while in University was a white-water-rafting guide!) to study for a career in Psychology; but when she found herself drawing floor plans in the margins of her notebooks, she thought it may be time to switch majors. So, in her 3rd year, she transferred her credits to VIU’s Interior Design program.



Detail Shoot – Interiors by Deanna Sellyeh


Miss Sellyeh feels her life experiences have probably influenced her design perspective and her focus on ‘community spaces’, where she enjoys creating designs that encourage guests to feel welcome – while maintaining her signature ‘less is more’ aesthetic. She also has a penchant for working on projects with uncommon circumstances, particularly those with atypical sensory perception where factors such as way-finding, emotional effect and a subconscious flow are particularly important.


Deanna has a great career ahead of her, and has already had the opportunity to work on a stunning project in  Bermuda which I want to share with you in particular, but I know her keen eye will take her far in the design world. Please read on to get in on the conversation…


Iván Meade – What was your first experience with design?


Deanna Sellyeh – I grew up in Whitehorse and kids in the Yukon spend a lot of time building forts in the bush. In the winter (which was most of the year) we'd build snow forts. I'd carefully extract sheets of ice off the windshield of my dad's car which I would inset into the walls of my fort to create ice windows. It would be dark by the time school let out, so we'd put candles inside to light up the snowy interior all blue and gold. We'd make furniture out of wood or snow and rig up an alarm system with string and a bear bell. I think all kids play like that when they are young but some people stop when they get older...I don't know why.



Interior Design by Deanna Sellyeh/Akureyri Design

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


Deanna Sellyeh – I picked up a hitchhiker near Mill Bay who gave me a Curious George fridge magnet as a thank-you. I suppose that's more of a gift than find, but it's my favourite object from the Greater Victoria Area. This was in 2007, after my first year of design school.


imageInterior Design by Deanna Sellyeh/Akureyri Design

Iván - Why is it important/inspirational to you?


Deanna Sellyeh – Hitchhiking is in an interesting thing because you have to have faith that the universe will provide you with opportunities and that people are generally good natured. It's funny, because most people who pick up hitchhikers have hitched rides themselves, so there's this whole community of people who get it. The magnet I was given reminds me to relax and enjoy the ride.



Interior Design by Deanna Sellyeh/Akureyri Design


Iván Meade – Did you always want to be an interior designer?

Deanna Sellyeh - I always had design related interests but I didn't know that interior design was a career until relatively late in the game. If you'd asked me at age ten, I probably would have said I wanted to design cars or be a carpenter.



Interior Design by Deanna Sellyeh/Akureyri Design


Iván Meade - Do you consider being young in the business as advantage or a disadvantage?

Deanna Sellyeh - Youth can be an advantage but inexperience can make the job more challenging. The upside of inexperience might be that when you don't have a set of go-to solutions you've devised over the years, you're perhaps more open minded in your approach.  



Interior Design by Deanna Sellyeh/Akureyri Design


Iván Meade – How would you describe your style?

Deanna Sellyeh - For myself, I tend to like old but simple things with texture and a story. For a client, I can appreciate any style, though my focus tends to be on concept, space planning and millwork.




Interior Design by Deanna Sellyeh/Akureyri Design


Iván Meade – Recently you had the opportunity to complete a stunning commercial project in Bermuda – How was your experience?

Deanna Sellyeh - Thank you! It was a great experience and I learned a lot on this project. I did the design work in Canada in conjunction with SOS Design in Victoria, but I was happy to be invited to a few of the site meetings in Bermuda.

We used local suppliers as much as possible but just about everything in Bermuda is imported which has a considerable impact on cost and lead times. Also, things tend to corrode and get dirty a lot faster on the island, so that's something you have to consider in material selection. The space was very white, which most people assume is high-maintenance, but we used acrylic paints, finishes and textiles that are easy to clean. The client didn't want it to look like a typical office and I think we succeeded in that.  



Interior Design by Deanna Sellyeh/Akureyri Design


Iván Meade – What are you excited about right now in the world of design?

Deanna Sellyeh - Biomimicry in architecture.



Interior Design by Deanna Sellyeh/Akureyri Design


Iván Meade – What would be your dream project?

Deanna Sellyeh - To design a school building to help reduce the anxiety a lot of students can feel in typical educational facilities. To start, this school would have no fluorescent lighting. It would have flexibility to do your class work sitting or standing, the materials would be chosen to reduce echo, noise and glare, it would make use of colour psychology -- not just the typical white, blue and burgundy due to a lack of conceptual alternatives. It would have living walls, flexible spaces and integrated way finding techniques and it would have lots of fresh air and natural light, especially in the hallways. To me, interior design is more about how space functions and how it makes you feel and that's a combination of all your senses. My primary interest in interior design is finding ever more seamless ways for space to work with people, as opposed to a world of people just working within space. I think schools are a great place to start investing in this kind of effort.



imageSOS:NDSS Thesis Project by Deanna Selleyeh

Iván Meade – What is your next design venture?

Deanna Sellyeh - My mama's front porch.



I invite you to visit Deanna Sellyeh’s website at:





Interior Photography by: Josh Nychuk

MEADE DESIGN GROUP - THE BLOG. Copyright 2007-2011


Karena said...

Deanna is so brilliant in her field of expertise!! I Loved the interview Ivan!

Art by Karena

Seorus said...

Oh I'm so jealous...looks amazing!

Chris said...

so simple, yet still elegant and refined

Echo said...

Very nice girl and beautiful work. I know she is going places!!

design elements said...

beautiful work! I like Deanna's dream project a lot!

Karen Shoener said...

Deanna your work is amazing, creative and beautifully done. I wish you get your dream project. I am Sherwin Ulit working as interior designer Westlake Village at Design of the Interior agency.