Monday, 31 January 2011

In Conversation with Lorin Turner

LORIN TURNER Photo (2) Lorin Turner


As seen in SNAP, Feburary 2011


Lorin Turner is a successful local designer and head of the interior design department of Zebra Group. Zebra Group is a very well recognized company in Victoria and has been in business for over 15 years; it consists of 3 departments: Zebra Design [Residential Design], Zebra Interiors [Interior Design] and Zebra Construction [Contracting]. They consistently produce award winning contemporary projects in Canada, the United States and the Bahamas.


Lorin's path to design is quite possibly the most interesting one that I have encountered, full of travels, experiences and lessons. She grew up as a Navy brat, bouncing around to different homes across the country; this was a great chance for her and her mother to make each new place their own in a unique way by renovating, decorating, or re-organizing. After high school, Lorin did some modeling in Toronto and Europe. She was able to see much of the world and began to open her eyes to different architectural styles, culture and histories. Lorin later became an actress, where she found herself interested in the world around her again, and a career in set design or cinematography began to pique her interest. A natural progression of life experiences led her to enrol in the interior design program at BCIT, she was hooked - in her own words "So much for Hollywood!".


After graduating from BCIT, Lorin accepted an opportunity to work with top designer (and former interviewee) Teresa Ryback of tdSwansburg for three years where she learned so much about the ins and outs of design. In 2008, she made the move to Zebra Group where she feels that she is still earning valuable experience working with owner Rus Collins. She credits him as having an immense knowledge of design and a very skilled eye.


It is very refreshing to meet a designer who is so appreciative of her influences and keep pushing herself towards perfecting her craft. It is my pleasure to invite you to get in on the conversation…


Iván Meade - What was your first experience with design?

Lorin Turner - Besides giving free advice to my friends, my first project as Lead Designer was a condo reno for an older gentleman as a result of a gift certificate that had been given to him by his children. He had absolutely zero interest in design and no opinion on any colour or material other than it was crucial to save his La-Z-Boy recliner. These days, our clients are fairly savvy and typically have some interest in design. But I could have juggled flaming fabric swatches and he wouldn’t have been impressed. It taught me to take my ego out of the equation and focus on giving him a comfortable home, not trying to create a showpiece. I learned that successful design must reflect the person who uses the space and that a 20 year-old recliner smells so much nicer when it’s been professionally cleaned.


Anya Lane -Living RoomInterior Design by Zebra Design

Iván Meade - Who and what has influenced your style?

Lorin Turner - My first appreciation of design came years ago, when I saw Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. I had never before considered structure as an art form. I think that if there’s a passion, once your eyes are open to it, you can spend a lifetime soaking it up from many different and unexpected sources.

I would say that my (still developing) style has been influenced by my travels through Europe, my involvement and love of fashion design, my experience with the art of cinematography when I was acting, and my appreciation of graphic design.

I love Interior Designers who are risk takers; who have such a strong, identifiable design sense. I aspire to Barbara Barry’s sophistication, Vincente Wolf’s eclecticism and Kelly Wearstler’s fearlessness.


6168_RGB_8bitInterior Design by Zebra Design

Iván Meade - What is your favourite local find and how long have you had it?


Lorin Turner - A few years back, my husband and I found an antique Chinese butcher block in the back of a Vancouver store. It was a complete mess, as someone had spilt wax all over the top, and then coated it with varnish. My husband spent hours planning by hand, sand and refinishing it. He brought it back to its original condition and I think that I love it not only for its form but for the amount of care he put into it. The fact that we met in China made it all the sweeter.


ZEBRA INTERIORS-Anya Lane Ensuite Interior Design by Zebra Design


Iván Meade - Who is Lorin Turner? (Outside of being Lorin Turner – the designer)

Lorin Turner – I think that a good laugh is a better stress reliever than yoga; my Associate and I practice this philosophy every day. I think my husband is a better (and more handsome) chef than anyone on the Food Network. I love old movies and secretly wish we still dressed for dinner. I hope that good manners make a comeback one day and that respect and kindness are more valued traits than drive and arrogance. I think that like the French, every Victorian should have a mandatory month-long holiday in the summer and I would be happy to volunteer as the first test subject.

Oh, and my dog is the sweetest dog ever. Truly.


ZEBRA INTERIORS-Anya Lane-Deck Interiors by Zebra Design

Iván Meade - Who has been a big impact on your life and your decision to go into a career in design?

Lorin Turner – Design has been a constant appreciation in my life, but I never thought of turning it into a career. I give credit for the leap to design school to my mom and to my husband. I think they believed that I could do this before I did. I had this misconception about the industry when I was a student: I thought that I would spend all your time in a slick studio “creating”, but there’s a lot more unglamorous paperwork involved. But I love every aspect of this business, even the long hours in front of a computer. Every project is different, the people, the conditions – you get to flex your brain and constantly grow. I’ve never met an interior designer who didn’t love what they do; we’re very lucky.


ZEBRA INTERIORS-Anya Lane-Media Room Interiors by Zebra Design

Iván Meade - During your career as an actress what was your favourite set design to work in and why?

Lorin Turner – Most film productions use existing interiors for their project. But if you hit the acting jackpot, you get to work on big budget sets specially made to fit the show’s atmosphere. I got to spend some time on a Hollywood sci-fi show that had these grungy post-apocalyptic buildings and streetscapes. The attention to detail is so good complete with fake (yes, fake) dirt and garbage, but it’s all facades with no actual
structure. It’s an industry based on grown-up make-believe and its fun to see the illusions at work.


ZEBRA INTERIORS-Brar Residence-Entry Interiors by Zebra Desgin

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


Lorin Turner – I love how the classification barriers of design are coming down. Slowly we’re doing away with the categories. It’s no longer traditional versus contemporary design. We’re becoming more eclectic with our design choices. I think it allows designers to be more creative and to take more “risks”, which I think pushes the industry forward as a whole.


ZEBRA INTERIORS-Brar Residence-KitchenInteriors by Zebra Design

Iván Meade -What would be your dream project?

Lorin Turner – I’d love to design a boutique hotel in the south of Spain with an unlimited budget - and carte blanche. It must be an Interior Design myth that those projects actually exist! I wouldn’t say no to designing a vacation home in Hawaii – I could be the site supervisor. I’m fastidiously organized; especially after snorkelling excursions and Mai-Tais.


image Interios by Zebra Design

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

Lorin Turner – I think designers are most proud of the projects with the biggest constraints that pose the greatest challenge. I loved working on the renovation for Timeless Toys in Oak Bay. We had a very short turn around time from design to build to grand opening and a limited budget-we had to get the store open on-time in order to prevent a loss of revenue. The owners are a young family and have a great connection to their community. They won us all over and we were committed to delivering something great. The design concept evolved from the name. I wanted it to evoke the feel of a turn of the century apothecary. Everyone involved was supportive of the concept from the beginning and put so much effort into getting it completed. It was such a positive building site which is amazing for the amount of late nights and early mornings. I mean
really, how can you not be happy when designing a toy store?!


image Interiors by Zebra Design

Iván Meade - What is the best advice (design related or otherwise) that you have ever received?

Lorin Turner –Trust your instincts, trust yourself. That gnawing feeling in your gut is telling you something. Every time I have ignored it, I’ve regretted the result. Sometimes, it’s easy to lose sight of your own opinion when there is constant feedback from those around you. Also, step outside of that comfort zone – challenge yourself. I am normally a fairly reserved person, yet each time I have committed to something that initially felt daunting or overwhelming, it has been such a positive, life-changing outcome. I will remember those challenges as some of the best moments in my life.


image Interiors by Zebra Design

Iván Meade - What is your next design venture?

Lorin Turner – I get the rare pleasure of working with two of my favourite clients on another home. This time around, the home will be a complete green build, from foundation to fabric. This couple is very open to new ideas and great fun to work with. I look forward to exploring new technologies, materials and techniques. This is an industry of constant growth and I think it’s essential to continue your personal education as a


I invite you to visit and discover Zebra Design’s website at:



MEADE DESIGN GROUP - THE BLOG. Copyright 2007-2011

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Eye Candy of the Week – Terri Tall Alabaster Lamp





Terri Tall Alabaster Table Lamp



Thomas O’Brien



Visual Comfort & Co



Antique Nickel, Bronze, Hand-Rubbed Antique Brass



- Lamp W 8”  X D 8”  H – 23.75” X 25”

- Base Diameter 4”

- Shade 14.5” X 16.5” X 5.75”



Aero [212] 966.1500



Finding balance in simplicity can be one of the hardest tasks for any designer.  This lamp is a great example of that.  I believe this piece really represents Thomas O’Brien design philosophy. 


The elegant lines of this lamp get reinforced with the use of quality materials. 



Bright and Crisp!!!

MEADE DESIGN GROUP - THE BLOG. Copyright 2007-2011

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

In Conversation with Victoria McKenney

image Victoria McKenney


Victoria McKenney is the Principal and Founder of Enviable Designs, an interior design firm based out of Vancouver that specializes in creating warm and inviting residential spaces. Her tagline “comfortable sophistication” says it all.


Victoria has always had a passion for art, she holds a Bachelors Degree in Art History from UBC as well as interior design training; she also continually travels through Western Europe for inspiration. In addition, Victoria is a member of several design associations including CDECA, NKBA, and the Inter-Society Color Council of New York and has been featured in the StyleAtHome blog and the recent book, Spectacular Homes of Western Canada. She has also had the distinction of receiving design honours such as the 2009 Professional Design Award competition by the Canadian national CDECA Association in the category of “Best Interior Under $25,000” for a master bedroom re-design in Kitsilano. Victoria was the only British Columbian designer who won first place that year.


I had the pleasure of meeting Victoria a couple of years ago when we were invited to the evening with Barbara Barry and when I worked with Victoria on revamping her graphic image and business cards. Once I was able to look through her portfolio and got the chance to know her warm and friendly personality I thought she would be a great interview to have on our blog.


Please read on to learn more about this local talent.


Iván Meade - What was your first experience with design?  

Victoria McKenney - When I was younger, my parents purchased a house and decided to extensively renovate it.  I remember those meetings between my parents and the architect. I was absolutely fascinated by the blueprint drawings and the entire process of the project.  I think what intrigued me the most was the transformation of those drawings into an actual 3 dimensional result.  That was the beginning of my love of design and architecture.


image Interior Design by Victoria McKenney

Iván Meade - Who has influenced your style?  

Victoria McKenney -  I have travelled quite a bit and every time I visit a new place, I am inspired by its  striking difference to Vancouver, where I was born and raised.  I studied in Italy and I think it’s amazing history and culture is what has really inspired me in my designs.  I like spaces to have some character and personality.  So much interior design can be read as too stark - I like to design a space that is warm, inviting and comfortable for my clients.


image Interior Design by Victoria McKenney

Iván Meade - How would you describe your style?  

Victoria McKenney – My style is always evolving.  In general I like a clean but sophisticated approach to design that is classic but with hits of the unexpected. What I enjoy about residential interior design is that I can take input from my clients to create a vision that realizes both our design concepts.


image Interior Design by Victoria McKenney

Iván Meade - What do you consider to be your greatest strength as a designer?  


Victoria McKenney – My greatest strength would be my ability to personalize all my designs for each individual client.  I do not like to dictate a certain “look” onto them but I like to guide them in the right direction and suggest new ideas.  Design is so personal and my clients take centre stage in how we develop the overall appearance.


imageInterior Design by Victoria McKenney

Iván Meade - You mention that you enjoy repeatedly exploring Western Europe and New York, what inspires you most about these travels and how do you interpret this in your designs?  

Victoria McKenney – More than anything it is the history of these places.  Vancouver is so young we lack a sense of history – in that it is only about 100 years old.  New York in particular has such a varied history and the architecture/ design and differing neighbourhoods reflect this.  In Europe, there is such a difference in how they live – both professional and personally.  I like to take these ideas and try to translate them into my designs through materials- whether it be fabrics or lighting or furniture


image Interior Design by Victoria McKenney

Iván Meade - How/why did you start your own firm? Could you tell me a little about the history of your company?  

Victoria McKenney – I started my company, Enviable Designs in 2004.  I knew I always wanted to focus solely on residential design because I enjoy the one-on-one approach with my clients. I began my own company because I didn’t want to feel constraints of working for someone else- I needed the freedom to be able to express the ideas I had.  By doing so, I have been able to establish a wonderful clientele that are able to work with myself and therefore, my design visions.  I started out small doing mostly room designs but over the years have grown the business so that most of our projects are large renovations or new builds.


imageInterior Design by Victoria McKenney

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

Victoria McKenney – Unfortunately I don’t consider myself young anymore!  But in general, being younger in relation to designers who have been in the business for 20+ years, is a benefit.  I feel I am able to take a fresh look at spaces and all projects and am able to experiment with all different aspects of design like scale, proportions, texture etc. without preconceived notions.



Iván Meade - Last year we both had the opportunity to attend a dinner in honour of Barbara Barry, and this year a lunch with Barclay Butera. What was your impression of the events?

Victoria McKenney – It was an amazing honor to meet with both of these famous designers.  Dinner with Barbara Barry was such a wonderful experience in that she really shared her inspirations for her many designs and accomplishments.  The way she described the west coast light as her inspiration for her latest wallpaper and fabrics line was magical.
Barclay Butera was so down to earth and interested in learning about Vancouver and its history.  He was really personable and such an inspiration.


imageInterior Design by Victoria McKenney

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

Victoria McKenney – There are so many new and exciting products out there.  It seems like the design world is finally catching up with environmental issues.  Kravet has come out with some amazing “green” fabrics and the idea of reclaimed and recycling furniture is huge right now.  I look forward to the changes this industry will make in the next 10 years.


image Interior Design by Victoria McKenney

Iván Meade - What project gave you the most satisfaction?

Victoria McKenney – That’s a really hard question because all my projects are extremely satisfying.  If I had to choose, it would be the new build projects that I do.  It’s a wonderful process to start with just drawings and then see it through the many phases of building such as plumbing, electrical, drywall all the way to the finishing details.  These tend to be the most rewarding because the final result is so impressive.


imageInterior Design by Victoria McKenney

Iván Meade - What would your dream project be?

Victoria McKenney – Many designers would say the dream project would be an unrestricted budget and carte blanche.  However, I feel as though I work on my dream projects all the time- which are working with clients who are building new homes.  I think the restraints of a budget as well as the homeowners own personal aesthetics are so necessary in developing a beautiful interior that reflects themselves.  But of course, I also wouldn’t turn down a carte blanche project!


imageInterior Design by Victoria McKenney

Iván Meade - What is your next design venture?

Victoria McKenney – I currently opened up a small boutique store in Kerrisdale called “ ENVIABLE FINDS” which carries all sorts of wonderful home décor items like mohair throws, beautiful soy candles, original artwork by Georgina Farah and colourful, unique pottery.  It is a space that reflects Enviable Designs and my tastes as a designer.  I am constantly searching out new and  beautiful treasures to showcase in my new store.


imageInterior Design by Victoria McKenney

Iván Meade - Lastly, you have already created a stunning body of work in your signature style. What would you like your legacy to be?

Victoria McKenney -  I would like to be known as a strong and personable interior designer whose goal was making the homes of Vancouver more beautiful.





MEADE DESIGN GROUP - THE BLOG. Copyright 2007-2011

Thursday, 13 January 2011

A gift from Jordan – Qerat Pillows

Earlier this week we received a parcel from Jordan – To our surprise the package had a couple of pillows from Qerat’s new collection. I feel really spoiled from my friend Tareq Abu Ghazaleh as these pillows will look amazing in my home.

Iphone 043

Unfortunately I know it is hard for you to appreciate the textures and the quality of the fabrics from a picture, but these pillows are lush, sophisticated and masculine.

Iphone 042

Tareq Abu Ghazaleh the head behind Qerat is not only a talented furniture designer, his designs are recognized internationally with showrooms in London and Jordan. We have become close friends through blogging, it is so funny how small the world feels when you are able to make friends across the globe.

I invite you to visit Qerat’s blog and learn more about his collections.


MEADE DESIGN GROUP - THE BLOG. Copyright 2007-2011

Monday, 10 January 2011

Eye Candy of the Week – Swarm by Mike&Maaike


image image



Swarm – Room Divider/Screen









Natural Ash, Black, White, Yellow, Green




40" - 1016mm


23" - 584mm


81" – 2058mm



Wooden Strips + Aluminum Links



I like the versatility of this screen as you can mix different colours to make it blend better in your space – It’s clean and architectural. 


The term Swarm describes an aggregation of animals (insects, fish, birds and microorganisms) of similar size and body orientation, generally cruising in the same direction. The Swarm space divider displays a similar behaviour, softening spaces, fading in and out, creating texture and motion.

Swarm offers great flexibility in density and scale enabling the creation of light-filled, intimate spaces within open environments. The self-standing units blend together when arranged in groups. – Mike&Mikee




MEADE DESIGN GROUP - THE BLOG. Copyright 2007-2011

Saturday, 1 January 2011

In Conversation with Chris Ryan – Studio Collecula

image Chris Ryan


As seen in SNAP, January 2011


I am always very excited to find talented, local designers; I was particularly enthused when I met Chris Ryan via twitter [ @collecula ], and discovered his work. It is clean, purposeful, sophisticated and explorative. Chris' background is varied, but thoughtfully intertwined; he has experience in woodworking, interior design, consulting, carpentry, manufacturing musical instruments, research and development, and formal training in Industrial design, sciences and arts with a degree from Emily Carr University, as well as Istituto Europeo di Design (IED) in Milan.

Chris has used his wealth of knowledge and experience to create everything from furniture with sleek and simple lines - including a table that also acts as a drum; to striking lighting, beautifully designed stationery and our previous eye candy of the week, the stunning "Feather Bowl" which are collectively sold through his company "studio collecula" on Cargoh and Etsy. Collecula is a very clever, and fitting name for his work:
collecula - def 1, noun. { a sum of unique parts; (objects, materials, processes and ideas) which through complementary forces, make up a paradigm or aggregate.

Mr. Ryan is also an active philanthropist, participating in several charitable organizations and co-founding both the Bambulance Project and DesignAid. His design philosophy has a strong connection to function, sustainability and social consciousness. With each product he creates, 10% of the proceeds are donated directly to DesignAid.

The future of design can most certainly be found locally, please read on to get in on this intriguing conversation…

Iván Meade - What was your first experience with design?


Chris Ryan – This is difficult to pinpoint, as I was exposed to design at a young age. My earliest memory of design was of my mother in her studio, pulling out photos of a playground she had done for a steel manufacturer. She then brought out all of these laminated hand drawn renderings of camping equipment by my father from late 60s. I was blown away. I had no idea that both of my parents studied industrial design (or that ID existed at all), until that moment. I also lived in the aura of my stepfather who designed and built gorgeous houses, including the one we lived in. They seemed so wise and experienced, to have done all of those things.


image image Rondo Table

Iván Meade - How was the transition from running a successful interior design firm in Vancouver to becoming an industrial designer?


Chris Ryan – It was a relative type of success and an intuitive transition. There is no shortage of furniture, millwork and interior design work in Vancouver; the transition was more a matter of productivity. I felt drawn to some advice that I received from a seasoned business man, who imparted that the only way to get ahead in your (design) career is to either have people working for you or products working for you, or both. I love working with residential interiors and commercial tenant improvements, I don’t see it as that different from product design mentally. That said, I enjoy the singularity of focus required to create objects that will be repeated in production.


image Feather Bowl

Iván Meade - What was the first object that you designed?


Chris Ryan – The first time I set myself upon developing a process that would result in an object or product type, was when a friend asked me to make him a percussion instrument. I had made one for myself, based on research and experience playing. Once I completed the instrument, in the same manner as the first, another friend asked for one. At this point I thought, maybe this could become a business, and immediately committed to refining the process. It was during the development of the product and business together, that I began to branch from craft and explore the potential of design process.


image Cajembe


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


Chris Ryan – Every project has contributed to a pool of experience. Sometimes the project is short, unappreciated, or a disaster. Sometimes it comes with surprising results. As I take on a new project, the satisfaction comes from the richness of all of these experiences working towards a better practice.


image image Paradigm

Iván Meade - It is very admirable that you are not just a great designer but also an active philanthropist - what does it mean for you to be part of the Bambulance Project and DesignAid?


Chris Ryan – It means a lot of things, but foremost social design is a vehicle for positive change and seeks to give people with life needs a voice. Working with underserved communities utilizes a unique skill set not often experienced when designing for more privileged society. Its offers great challenges, profound lessons and humility.



Iván Meade - The Bambulance Project (low-cost ambulance) - Wow! I was very excited to find out about this project in Kenya - Can you tell us what is your involvement in the project and what have been the results of this amazing project?


Chris Ryan – My primary involvement in Bambulance Project, has been as co-lead of the industrial design. Initially working with Design for Development Society (DFD), the challenge was to generate a fully functional low-cost ambulance prototype and appropriate healthcare support system. The prototype and system model would serve as teaching tools for capacity building, integrated with existing systems. This process would lead to developing locally viable solutions to heath transport. The prototype is intended to change with the needs of each community catchment area and their particular constraints.


image Bambulance


We have made a lot of headway working with community groups in Nairobi, and Mathare, with the project still in development. DFD and DesignAid view the initiative as ongoing, long-term and open source.


image Bambulance


Iván Meade - Let's talk about DesignAid - DesignAid continues to promote positive change, serving daily life needs in America, Asia, Africa and Europe - How did you get involved in DesignAid?


Chris Ryan – In 2008, designer Philippe Schlesser and I hosted a series of workshops on holistic design and sustainable practices, in Luxembourg. The experience helped to confirm the idea that we needed (personally and professionally) to practice in the area of social design. We also had the realization from working with DFD, that design can be used as a powerful tool in helping to implement collaborative change. We wanted to see more community built around the desire to make change and share challenges. So we began by approaching colleagues with similar interests, and once we established a committed team, found community partners in Vancouver and Luxembourg.




Iván Meade - I read in your bio that for you expressing ideas is like being an anthropologist in woodworker’s overalls  - I believe this is the starting point in your own design philosophy - Could you please explain in detail what this phrase means to you?


Chris Ryan – It’s a metaphor for being in one state, in this case a woodworker, and tapping into the mindset and skills of another field. It’s a way of looking outside the common stream of skills associated with a practice, and applying thinking that one would otherwise not consider relevant. It’s a bit like trying on a different persona in order to discover and make connections that would otherwise be unlikely. IDEO is a great example of a design company that requires its people to be many other things, other than designers. This way the solutions are richer and from multiple perspectives. 


image Oculus Lamp

Iván Meade - What are you excited about right now in the world of design? Are there any new materials that you can't wait to work with?


Chris Ryan – I’m really excited about the potential of opening the design process up to global cultures of all classes, and a further mixing of design disciplines. The growth we have seen in connectivity and technology today is largely the result of the impact social media is having on the world. I hope to see a similar cross-pollination happening in design as a result of pooling resources and facing global issues collectively.


image Tansu Cabinet


Iván Meade - What is the best advice (design related or otherwise) that you have ever received?

Chris Ryan –
“Life is short, don’t sweat the small stuff.” – Marty Ryan, artist, designer, thinker, parent.
“Design like you give a damn.” – Cameron Sinclair and Kate Stohr, Architecture for Humanity.




Iván Meade - What is your next design venture?


Chris Ryan – With all of that said about social design, my next big push is to build collecula into more of a brand. I would like to see collecula produce a range of quality ecological products for the home, complimented by interior and product design services. 2011 will begin with the launch of a few promising lines that relate in a narrative way with the user.


In terms of community involvement, a growing local design and arts community is really important to me and I will be more involved in contributing to the mix in the coming months. Design District Studio in Victoria, which I’ve newly joined as an associate, are a group of talented designers and stagers and I hope to collaborate more with them this year.


At the other end of the spectrum, DesignAid has several ongoing projects that are long term, and this year will see some exciting new directions.


Thank you Ivan, for the opportunity to share some of my story. It’s a privilege to be in conversation with such a community minded designer as yourself.


I invite you to visit and to support Chris Ryan’s website at:



MEADE DESIGN GROUP - THE BLOG. Copyright 2007-2011