Entries Tagged as 'Interview'

Interview: Tracey Ayton from Vancouver Vanishes

May 16, 2014


Tracey Ayton is a Vancouver-based interiors and lifestyle photographer, whose work has appeared in prominent publications such as UPPERCASE, Style at Home and House & Home, as well as online at Kinfolk and House of Fifty. Tracey takes great interest in history and appreciates the quirks and character found in old architecture. She, herself, bought a turn-of-the-century-home in Vancouver’s Kerrisdale neighbourhood 11 years ago, and has since renovated it with her husband to celebrate its original beauty.


Vancouver’s popular West side (east of Kerrisdale) was once populated with the kinds of architectural gems that Tracey loves. The area boasted a vibrant family atmosphere and classic Arts & Crafts style homes. But in recent years, homes in this sought after neighbourhood have been disappearing. “Once you see a “For Sale” sign in front of it,” says Tracey, “you know the red fencing is sure to go up soon after. Old homes on Vancouver’s West side are like sitting ducks.” These homes are being scooped up by developers or wealthy investors who are looking to tear them down and make a profit. Most Vancouver residents are unable to compete with the prices these investors are willing to pay, and are forced to move out of the city and raise their families in more affordable suburb areas.


Enter Vancouver Vanishes, a community Facebook Page that is a lament for, and celebration of, the vanishing character homes in Vancouver. Tracey stumbled upon the page last year and immediately wanted to be apart of it. She now joins Vancouver Vanishes’ founder and author Caroline Adderson in documenting West side homes slated for demolition.




EQ3  Tell us about Vancouver Vanishes.


TRACEY AYTON  Vancouver Vanishes is a Community Facebook Page. My co-worker who started it all is Caroline Adderson. She started taking pictures of these homes that were slated for demolition and documented them. It got to be so much that she started a Facebook Page, because she thought she should draw attention to what’s going on in our city.


I stumbled upon this page and I just thought “Wow, this is amazing.” She wrote down the year it was built, the first owner, and the owner’s occupation. I found this really interesting. One of the reasons why I live here is because I have a great appreciation for history and heritage. So I approached Caroline and I said “Hey look, I am a photographer, my subjects are homes and interiors, and I do have a passion for history.”


We travel to the west side of Vancouver 2-3 times a week, and go into houses that we have permission to enter and take pictures, both inside and out. Then we document them on the page.



EQ3  For our readers who may not understand Vancouver’s real estate market, can you explain what’s going on there and why these homes are getting torn down?


TA  Vancouver is an interesting and beautiful place to buy property. The west side is extremely popular. People with money will buy up anything and most likely tear it down in order to suit their needs. A lot of times it is just investment interests. They will tear down a house with a front and a back yard, and then they’ll build something that covers 70% of the lot, the maximum allowed.


After that you expect a family to move in, but often they don’t. They just sit on the house for profit, and they’ll sell it for quite a bit more money than they bought it for. It’s sort of diminishing the feel of our neighbourhoods because one-by-one these pockets of the city aren’t vibrant anymore.




EQ3  What are the conditions of these houses?


TA  It could be an elderly person’s home that’s out of date and out of shape, but most recently there have been homes that are in perfect condition. They’ve been renovated, painted and brought up to date with electrical, you name it, but it just doesn’t matter when the house is bought as a building lot. The new buyer, who may not be living in the house, doesn’t want the upkeep of a garden.



EQ3  You’re a sought after interior and lifestyle photographer for some very prominent magazines in Canada. What goes through your mind when you’re shooting for Vancouver Vanishes?


TA  I think I tend to shoot in a bit of an artistic way. I’ve got a certain eye and it’s kind of artsy, and I try to apply that with these homes. The character of the homes – the bones – they immediately stand out, and that’s exactly what I want to photograph. Some of them have beautiful stained glass, chair rails, and fireplace mantels. I somehow seam it all together in one shot, or I break it up, just as long as it shows the character. But on the other end, I like to show the destruction of the house. So I might shoot a broken window that used to be stained glass – perfect, beautiful stained glass broken.


It evokes a feeling. I think I want people to be touched by these homes and what they used to offer. It’s sad, but they’re still standing with so much beauty in them, no matter how much people have ripped out. I guess I just try to capture that.



EQ3  You mentioned that it evokes a feeling. What feelings do these homes evoke in you?


TA  It’s bittersweet because they are such beautiful homes. It’s stuff that you just don’t see being built anymore. You see these good bones, and you know that whatever is going to be built after this is not going to be as intricate.




EQ3  We really loved the post you recently published on The Dorothies – a pair of homes that Vancouver Vanishes recently helped rescue from demolition! How did you manage to save these two homes?


TA  Well, WE didn’t save them! They were saved by the city’s Heritage Revitalization Agreement, which is one of the few heritage tools the city has. Caroline had noticed the houses and approached the developer, who was going to tear them down to build his own house and one for a friend. She arranged to get a key and go inside to photograph. Later, when the development application went forward, Caroline posted the photos and encouraged people to write letters in support of saving the houses. The press got wind of it and articles appeared in The Vancouver Sun and the Province, provoking public outcry. The developer eventually had a change of heart when he realized if he moved the houses, the city would relax some of its zoning requirements, which made the project financially feasible. It was a win for the houses, the developer, and heritage.



EQ3  If you could get one message across, what would it be?


TA  Just to make people aware of what’s happening. The more people that are aware of it, the more we can help change the laws to save these buildings. All I can do is document these homes and show people what Vancouver used to look like when I was here. I’m a fourth generation Vancouverite, so I have pictures of when my parents lived here. And, I have pictures of when my grandparents were here, and when my great-grandparents were here. I hang onto that dearly.


If there is a way that we could figure out how to stop tearing down homes that shouldn’t be torn down, then maybe that’s all I hope for.



Image source: All photos by Tracey Ayton for Vancouver Vanishes

Interview: Tiffany MacKay, EQ3 Calgary’s Shop at Home Consultant

Mar 21, 2014

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Buying furniture is an investment, and EQ3 wants to make the shopping experience as fun and stress-free as possible! Our store staff love to inspire customers with beautiful and creative room settings, but many customers need additional help to envision the furniture they see in-store, in their own home.


That’s where EQ3’s Free In Home Consultation program comes in! We’ve equipped each EQ3 retail store with a Shop at Home consultant – a trained designer who will meet you right in your home and offer advice on furniture selections and layouts, right down to the colours and accessories that’ll complete your room.


We called up Tiffany MacKay, EQ3 Calgary’s Shop at Home Consultant, to talk about the program and what a customer can expect from the Shop at Home experience. Tiffany also shared her best tips for furnishing a home.



Portrait of Tiffany, EQ3 Calgary Shop at Home Consultant


EQ3  What is your educational and work background?


TIFFANY MACKAY  I started in theatre and film. I got a degree in set and costume design from the University of Calgary. What’s kind of interesting, and why I think that is so key to my success, is that when you work in theatre you design spaces for a character, and how their home looks represents what they’re wearing and how they behave. So when I got to somebody’s house it’s about them, not necessarily what I think they should have.


After university, I worked for many different companies doing visual merchandising, and really focused on spacial relations.Then I started doing private consultations and working for a building developer, and now I’ve been with EQ3 for four years.



EQ3  What does the Shop at Home design process look like? What can a customer expect out of the experience?


TM  Typically, per room, the consultation’s about an hour. It’s a no obligation service, but hopefully the client is interested in EQ3 products and styles. When I go to somebody’s house, the first thing I always try to ask them is what they’re thinking of their space, what they’re hoping to get out of the consultation, maybe what they’re struggling with. Is it room layout, is it scale, is it colour, is it size? I always say to them “It’s your hour, so let’s talk about what you’re struggling with.”


Most often than not, I’ll go to appointments regarding upholstery. I try to think through the entire room, so that even if the client can’t afford to do all the pieces right now, at least they’re set up for success.




Condo featuring EQ3’s Replay Sofa and Simone End Table (room shot from Tiffany’s portfolio)


EQ3  What services do you offer?


TM  It depends if the client is in their home, or if they’re building their home. If they are in their home, I’d show up with a giant suitcase with all the fabric swatches. I’d move in for an hour and we’d layout the space. We’d look at the colours. I always bring paint samples too in case someone wants to paint based off of the materials they select. And then, at that point, if they’re still struggling with visualization, I like to measure (the space) when I’m in the home, and then I can provide a 3D rendering.


Typically when somebody’s not in the house, and they just have blueprints, that’s when we do a lot of 3D rendering. I always prepare a little package for them. They can take home all of the swatches that they picked and we do some before and after pictures.


And then, with most appointments, I do invite clients back into the store one more time. I refer to it as the last ’bum test’ on the sofa so they can make sure they love it and feel confident that what they’re purchasing is the right choice for them. Because there’s no point in selling someone furniture that they’re not going to love. I always joke with people that I don’t want to see them back again unless we’re doing another room.




Condo featuring EQ3’s Reverie Sofa, Solo Chairs and Cast Floor Lamp (room shot from Tiffany’s portfolio)


EQ3  Tell us about a favourite project or two that you’ve worked on.


TM I hate to play favourites. I’ve done everything from 500 square foot condos to 4,000 square foot homes. I fall in love with the people I deal with. It’s really satisfying to have somebody come back into the store and tell me how much they love it and show pictures.


In this one instance with a client I worked with, she said to me that the consultation felt more like a friend giving her advice on what would work, but with her best interest at heart. Because I think sometimes when you get advice from friends, it’s their opinion instead of what’s going to work best for (your) lifestyle.


We also did a huge crown suite in the Westin. That was quite memorable. When Presidents and dignitaries from other countries come and stay at the Westin Downtown, we did that suite for them. That was tons of fun!



EQ3  What are your favourite EQ3 products to design with?


TM  I love the Reverie Sofa. I love it because it looks cool, but it’s also super comfortable. I’m a big fan of mid-century design. I love that we carry Herman Miller, and I love that products like the Reverie can be complementary to their high end designs.


I quite like the Mesa Dining Table as well. I love marble. I think that there’s something polished and elegant about it, and if you can’t afford granite, quartz or marble countertops, it’s a way to incorporate that element into your home.


In terms of accessories, I love the Sitara Rug. I like the idea of a summer and a winter rug. I feel like that adds an element of longevity. The Sitara’s great in the winter for its cozy, knit appeal, and I like the Ori in the summer. It has a little thinner pile, so it’s easier to maintain if you’re in and out of the house with your flip flops.




Condo featuring EQ3’s Elise Sofa and Rubix Ottomans (room shot from Tiffany’s portfolio)


EQ3  Do you have any tips for any readers who are furnishing their homes?


TM  I think less is more. I know a lot of people are in a rush to get things done. If you take your time and make the right choice – no band-aid solutions – you get the right piece, in the right space, and you actually don’t spend as much money.


You can always add, but it’s difficult to take away, especially furniture because it is a larger investment.



EQ3  What does your own home look like?


TM  I’m an artist, so I have lots of artwork on the wall. It has a very beachy, California vibe. I’m bold: I have a coloured sofa. It’s Key Largo Teal, which is a vibrant blue. I’m a bit of a book nut, so I’ve got lots of bookshelves, and I organize the books all by colour. I also have lots of pieces from EQ3 and my travels.


Need help selecting the perfect furniture for your home? Click here to arrange a free in-home consultation with an EQ3 designer, or call your local store today.

Interview: EQ3 Product Development Team

Mar 12, 2014

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Meet the product development team; Carla Zacharias (accessories), Enri Tielmann (upholstery) and Madi Cash (casegoods).


EQ3’s spring collection is centered around natural materials like felt, hand woven wool, undyed linen, solid wood, and raw marble. With the use of these materials, EQ3’s product development team has created a cohesive collection to help make your home both comfortable and inviting. We sat down with Carla, Enri and Madi back in January, while EQ3 was busy with the spring catalogue photoshoot. We asked them how they began working at EQ3, what inspires them, and of course about the new spring collection!


A condensed version of this interview can be found in the 2014 Spring Supplement Catalogue. Watch for it online and in-store starting next week!



Portrait of EQ3 Product Developers: Enri, Carla and Madi



EQ3  What is your background?


Madi  My educational background started with business and then shifted towards design by enrolling in a cross-disciplinary undergraduate program in the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Architecture. During my time at the U of M I took a furniture studio, taught by the talented and inspirational Deb Scott who influenced me to pursue furniture design after graduation.


She gave me a great understanding of how certain things fit together – not only physically, but also conceptually. I think she was really good at pushing her students to really use their mind in ways that they may not have organically.


Carla  I too was part of U of M’s Faculty of Architecture. Both Madi and I graduated with an Environmental Design degree, specializing in Interior Design.


Enri  I grew up in Germany. After a mandatory year of social service I went to study Theology in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Afterward, I started a second degree in Business and Economy back in Germany. It was then that I had the opportunity to intern at EQ3 in 2010. I joined EQ3’s product development team shortly thereafter. I was very excited to combine my educational background in business with my interest in design.




EQ3  What influences your work?


Madi  In product development, our work is a response to different needs. I think my friends and family have a lot of personality, and they all have a lot to say, all the time. I’m definitely inspired by them.


I read a lot of magazines and newspapers and I’m on the internet all the time so I take a lot of influence from what is happening in the world. I think it’s important to be aware of what’s going on nationally and internationally and relate that back to what we’re doing here at EQ3.


Carla  There isn’t one specific thing I look to – I take a lot of inspiration from my day to day. Oftentimes on weekends when I’m not working, all of a sudden, things will come to mind. Or, I’ll see something on the internet and not think anything of it, and I’ll think of it later as being great inspiration for a new project.


Enri  I think everybody has a unique background, filled with special people that you admire, different places you have visited, where and how you’ve grown up and what you’ve been exposed to culturally. I believe it’s a mixture of all of those things that have influenced my life and certainly my perspective on work.




New Stumpy Wall Hook (Large), designed by Carla



EQ3  Is there a specific designer whose work you’re inspired by?


Madi  Right now is such an amazing time with so many exciting things happening in architecture, furniture and fashion. There are just so many people doing great things both here in Canada and globally that I’m continually inspired by what I see. Furniture, and even fashion to some extent, have traditionally been boys clubs, with men often dictating the forms and materials that influence what we live with. Now we have crazy-talented women like Phoebe Philo, Mary Katrantzou, Inga Sempé and Patricia Urquiola at center stage shaping the trends that are influencing the entire industry. I love that so much.


Enri  I would say for myself, I totally agree with Madi on the amount of designers and artists that you can name. I’m personally fascinated by the work of Oscar Niemeyer. He was a Brazilian architect who just recently died at 104 years of age. What I really admire, in general, are designers who strive to question the status quo and who reinterpret things that already exist.


Carla  I was always very interested in Richards Serra’s work. How his work affects space by using scale and volume, and how people respond physically and emotionally.




EQ3  What is your favorite design that you’ve done for EQ3?


Enri  I would say I particularly liked working on the Eve Sofa collection. Besides the aesthetical aspect, we were able to introduce high end components such as feather seating and a die cast aluminum leg at an affordable price.


Carla  This is always changing, and my answer would probably always be something that I’m currently developing. In the beginning it was probably one of our rugs, like the Corfu. You learn about the different techniques and then when you finally see your design being developed – it’s pretty cool. In terms of a current favorite, the Stumpy Wall Hook was a fun project to work on.


Madi  Definitely the Reclaimed Teak Bedroom. It was fun to work on it because I spent a lot of time in Indonesia learning where the reclaimed teak originates. I really like that this material has a story and has had all of these different lives. Each piece has all this history literally engrained into the material, and when you buy the finished piece and take it home, the material embarks on a new journey.




Eve Chair, designed by Enri



EQ3  What tool or resource do you find most important to your job?


Madi  Definitely a notebook – pen and paper.


Enri  I carry a Muji passport notebook that perfectly fits into my back pocket. When we travel to furniture shows overseas, this is where I put all of my notes and sketches down. It becomes a chronicle of all of our experiences.


Carla  Pantone colour swatches are important for my work. It’s a common language across all the countries that I work with and I reference it daily.


Madi  I’m travelling a lot so my iPhone has become a fairly essential tool and if it left me while I was half-way across the world I would cry – but I stick with my original answer – pen and paper is the most essential. You can do everything. You can take your notes. You can do your sketches.




EQ3  Tell us about the spring collection.


Madi  Our focus was toward really comfortable, wholesome, natural products that could fit into someone’s life in a very easy way. I would say warmth might be a way you could describe it. I used a lot of solid woods and clean lines – nothing too decorative.


Carla  I used a lot of weaves and natural materials – cottons, wools, natural felts and linens. I focused on softening the table setting with the use of textiles and subtle colours.


Enri  The natural materials we’ve used allow the collection to be integrated into various contexts from, perhaps the most obvious one, a cottage at the lake, to the minimalist condo.


With upholstery specifically, we have introduced a new design language with skirted slip covers. This is a new addition to our product range. It’s interesting to offer something to our customers that will broaden our product offering.




Reclaimed Teak Low Dresser, designed by Madi



EQ3  What does your own home look like?


Enri  Well, that’s a good question. Are you visiting today? If we are expecting a visitor, then it is very clean, but if not, I’d say it’s a very eclectic mix of shoes, clothes and bags everywhere – so really messy.


Aside from that I would say it’s a collection of pieces here and there that have been added overtime that we have become emotionally connected to, such as, a set of molded plywood dining chairs that we got from my grandparents and refinished. But then there are also very utilitarian, very useful objects that we just try to combine with the rest to make a cozy home.


Madi  I don’t know how to describe my home…


Enri  As an art exhibit.


Madi  (laugh) Yeah, it’s not so much a display, but I’ve collected a lot of little objects and books and prints and photographs throughout my life. It’s sort of a mixture of smaller items – a lot of things, but I like to think that everything I have is very intentional.


Carla  We just purchased our home this past fall. It was built in 1929 and has all the original oak floors and oak banisters. It has a lot of character details, which is what made me fall in love with it in the first place, and now we’re just slowly furnishing it. Currently it’s a mix of old things that we’ve kind of always had, and a mix of new things. For the most part it’s not overly cluttered. Most things we have pose function, except for the large amount of pillows and textiles throughout.




EQ3  How do you explore creativity outside of your regular work week?


Carla  We all have the opportunity to travel and it’s definitely an interest for all of us. Definitely going to new places, and seeing new cultures, meeting new people and the conversations you may have. Exploring the world is definitely something that inspires each of us.


I also love to cook and definitely would consider that a creative outlet outside of my day to day.


Madi  I spend a lot of my free time trying to get out to as many different galleries and shows in Winnipeg. There are so many talented people living in Winnipeg right now! Fine artists, musicians, chefs, film-makers – it’s insane. So I always try to make sure that, even when it’s inhumanely cold outside, I make it out.


Enri  I enjoy carving wood sculptures. What I find fascinating about carving, in contrast to other art forms, is that you take away all unnecessary material until you arrive at the piece that you had envisioned.




Corfu Handwoven Rug, designed by Carla



This interview was prepared for the 2014 EQ3 Spring Supplement Catalogue. Stay tuned for the announcement of the catalogue’s arrival next week.

Interview: Joe Kalturnyk from RAW:almond

Jan 30, 2014

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Winnipeg is known for its quirky festivals and unique cultural events, but there’s something really intriguing about events like RAW:almond, which have an almost unnatural ability to nudge people out of their homes on the coldest nights of the year to celebrate local talent and culture. Now in its second year, RAW:almond (#riverpopup) is a three week pop up restaurant erected on the frozen water at the historic meeting point of the Red River and Assiniboine River.


Joe Kalturnyk (Director of RAW Gallery of Architecture and Design) and Mandel Hitzer (Chef at Deer+Almond) are the creative visionaries behind RAW:almond. We dropped by the river pop up one morning, earlier this week, to chat with Joe about the festival, the structure’s design and what the future holds for this frozen gem.


Mandel was just waking up from a night on the ice when we arrived. He’s sleeping there all 21 nights of RAW:almond to raise money for three community organizations. Proceeds from the charitable adventure, now dubbed Great Canadian Sleepout (#GreatCanadianSleepout), will go toward Boys and Girls Clubs of Winnipeg, FortWhyte Alive, and Resource Centre for Manitobans who are Deaf-Blind. Donations may be made at RAW:almond, in The Forks Market, and via PayPal at TheForks.com.



Joe Kalturnyk, Director of RAW Gallery of Architecture and Design and co-visionary of RAW:almond


EQ3  In your own words, how would you describe the RAW:almond experience?


JOE KALTURNYK  It’s an adventure – for, I think everybody. For my team. For Mandel’s team. For the servers and the patrons.



EQ3  So you’re in your second year. What initially inspired the concept?


JK  We had both been doing something similar, some years back, and it was just a matter of getting a hold of Mandel and saying “hey why don’t we merge what we’re both doing.” He was doing secret dinners. I was doing pop up art galleries. And we thought, you know, this could be a really interesting new project.


Cyrus Smith is a painter-artist, and also a renowned chef. I knew him from the art world. I said “hey Cyrus, I have this idea. We should meet.” We met at the patio during The Fringe (theatre festival), and just said “yeah I’m thinking about this, what do you guys think?” They said “yeah, that sounds really cool. Where should we do it?” I had some ideas. They had some ideas. And then, I think at the table, we just decided that we’re doing it on the river.


I was thinking about it yesterday, we had such weird impressions of what this would be. Like, we had weird impressions that nobody would come, so we wouldn’t do anything on Monday or Tuesday. Wednesday maybe some soup. We just thought this would not be popular and nobody would be that interested, but maybe on the weekend some people would come. So it started gaining, I guess, momentum, and I can’t remember when the decision was made that we were actually going to do dinner every night, but once we found out that 3 weeks was our license, we thought maybe he (Mandel) needed someone to help him, because three weeks is a long time to do it by yourself. So he called in some friends, and called some more friends, and that’s how it turned into the kind of festival that it is.



EQ3  Interesting that the idea was formed in the summer, during The Fringe Festival.


JK  Yeah, for me, I had been thinking about it for a bit. I am always interested in sort of nomadic architecture – temporary architectures – and, I was interested in different ways of programming this kind of space. I used to be a scaffolder, so I know this material and I find it very fascinating and a beautiful material in its own simplicity. Simple to make, simple to put up and take down. I mean, I taught my teammate who helped me in a few days and he’s up there doing what a professional scaffolder would do. So it’s such a beautiful material. Then I thought, “okay, well I want to explore this material further” and I’m thinking we could make an interesting shape…we could do all this other stuff. It could be a meeting of architecture and food…sort of push those avenues. Yeah, so it had been bubbling for a bit, but not really concrete. And then we had that meeting and it was like “yeah this could be really good. Let’s do it.”



EQ3  What was your vision for this space?


JK  I always start from the inside-out. I’ll place the table. And, I’ll place the kitchen and the lounge table and see how much space I need. So it really grows out of the necessity of getting people around a long table. We decided to do the kitchen inside this year, and do it a little more professionally, a little more finished. So that was a parameter. Then there’s all the environmental stuff, like it’s got to shed whatever amount of snow load that we get. It get’s quite heavy. It’s also got to be protected and strong enough to resist those 80 km winds we get. So those are some of the things that I’m always thinking about, in tangent of trying to come up with a form.


At first, I was thinking of doing platonic shapes, just to be, I don’t know, slightly ironic because they’re not overly clever. But then I thought “the problem with those is that I know what that looks like.” I can imagine what that would look like. The Geodesic Dome, it’s just outside (a partially built structure located close to the dining tent) and you can imagine what it’s going to look like in there. And, I kind of want to be challenged too, so I thought “what if I took a form and twisted it in space.” Ultimately, I wouldn’t know all of the parameters. I know the beginning and end, but I never know what’s going to happen in between. I thought that would be an interesting challenge. So I started that, and what I found was quite fascinating. Then I had to scale it back so it was a little more buildable. What I thought was really nice – it was a joy for me to build and see it come to fruition – is by just setting up that one parameter, every time you brace it, or every time you do something to make it stronger, it creates its own wave formation.








Mandel Hitzer, Joe Kalturnyk, Chef at Deer+Almond and co-visionary of RAW:almond



EQ3  What do you hope guests will get out of the experience?


JK  Obviously the food is a major component. I wouldn’t say it’s the only component, and that’s what I really wanted to emphasize this year. It’s an entire sensorial haptic experience: your nose, your ears, your eyes, (and) your taste buds.


I’m not interested in giving people stuff that is super esoteric, I really just wanted to bring some of the elements of my favourite artists to the table. So that’s a James Turrell inspired hallway (Joe points to the entrance’s corridor), where you’re just bathed in pure light. And you can change it, and it changes the atmosphere and the mood in here when it’s changed. The hallway very gradually contracts or expands, depending on which way you’re going, and the fun thing about it is that you kind of lose your body in that space. You kind of feel like you’re floating through it because it’s getting wider, like the 2001 Space Odyssey in the tunnel, where all of a sudden things are just opening up.


We’ll be projecting films and, I don’t know, maybe we’ll have some sound…have it cut in and out. Because it’s not really about watching a film and eating, but it’s more about being immersed in a different kind of cultural atmosphere. It’s all local artists and local filmmakers. It’s really about showcasing our talent here. That’s really my goal as a director and in this project, to not only showcase local Winnipeg talent, but also bring stuff to the table that perhaps is blasé in London because they’ve seen it a thousand times, but maybe it hasn’t come here and they’re still wonderful experiences to have.



EQ3  What are your plans for the future with RAW:almond? Do you have plans for this to continue?


JK  Yeah, this year is our year of investing. So we’ve been investing in more permanent goods, rather than last year, when we rented most things. I’m going to turn this over into an international competition. We’re writing the parameters now, like it can only be this much volume and it has to accommodate this table, and we’ll see what happens…see what comes out.


So that’s on my end. And, then I know Mandel’s always searching to bring more talent to Winnipeg. We’ve got 5 or 6 people being flown in (this time), so we’re just going to keep growing.



RAW:almond opened January 24th in Winnipeg and runs through to February 13th. We’re taking in the river pop up’s tasting bar this Friday night and will capture the evening on EQ3’s Instagram feed. Also, check back for a full recap of the experience here on the blog next week!

Interview: Lane Delmonico Gibson

Dec 23, 2013

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Last week, we met up with local artist and ceramicist Lane Delmonico Gibson at Make Coffee, where she’s currently exhibiting some of her pottery work alongside good friend Chloé Carpenter. About 5 years ago, Lane and Chloé completed an apprenticeship together under the direction of French potter Agnès Chapelet in the village of La Borne, France. Their exhibit at Make follows this journey of study. Rather than feature all finished works, this exhibition displays handmade tools the girls made while apprenticing, as well as a series of pots, vessels and other pieces the girls made while developing their skills. The result is an exhibition that explores and celebrates the design process…the steps that make up this art form.


Having always been drawn to pottery, and the idea of studying abroad, we were excited to sit down with Lane and learn more about her time in France, and the experiences and lessons she returned to Winnipeg with. Lane is currently finishing her degree in Education and works at Make Coffee part-time. When she arrived for the interview, she quickly slipped behind the counter to make herself a drink (and later refilled mine), even though it was her night off. This simple act set the tone for the entire night. Lane was calm, open and honest, and so humble. We sat cupping hot drinks in our hands – mugs Lane and Chloé had made themselves in France – and chatted for close to two hours. Nothing was rushed.


It was as if our conversation transported us to France and we were enjoying the slower, more intentional lifestyle Europe is known for. And, we hope reading this interview gives you a similar feeling of calm and escape.



Artist Lane Delmonico Gibson in front of journal pages from her pottery apprenticeship in France.


EQ3  How did you get your start in pottery?


LANE DELMONICO GIBSON  Sometimes I say that it happened randomly. In French randomly is par hasard, which means by hazard. Hazard (in English) alludes to something that may be dangerous, but in French it just means by chance. It was a pretty far guess when I went into pottery. I was 17 and my friend just suggested…yeah, really it was just a suggestion. I had always been into art as a kid and whenever people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would always say an artist, but I didn’t really know in what way. I hadn’t really experimented with clay all that much as a kid. I do remember when I was in Grade 4, my teacher selected me to do Through the Eyes of a Child, a program that was offered through the WAG (Winnipeg Art Gallery). It was a weekend art class. I remember every time I would make something and bring it home, my dad would put it on the mantel piece and I just was really, really proud of this…well out of clay I made this coil pot, a very ugly thing with a cat on the lid. And, I was really proud of it.


So I remember that and then fast forward to Grade 12, I remember my really good friend Chloé came to me  one day. She’s half French, and so she would go home to France every summer to see her grandparents in France. And, then she came back one summer and said “Lane you have to go to France with me. I discovered this tiny little village in France called La Borne, and I want to do a pottery apprenticeship there.” And, at that point, my mind was, I guess, more in line with the way my parents had sort of programmed me to think…that I needed to go to university right away after high school. So I was really nervous about telling my parents about this program. They’re both academics. But Chloé described this amazing sounding apprenticeship and I couldn’t pass that up. And, so I remember having breakfast one day at Falafel Place and being ready to tell my dad. I had it all planned out – How am I going to break it to him that I want to move to France? I was only 17. And…the conversation lasted about 0.2 seconds because I just said, “So I want to move to France.” and he said “Don’t you think you’ll never go back to school? If you take one year off you’ll never go back to school.” Because he knew this program that I had just described to him wasn’t affiliated with a university at all. It was just this woman who claims she is a potter and she’s going to teach us everything she knows. And then I said “No, I’ll go to school.” And then he said “Sure. Okay. Fine.” And he didn’t ask me any other questions, and at that point I was like “Yeah, this really is up to me.” I was really glad that he gave me that freedom.



EQ3  So was that the summer right after Grade 12, or when did you take the apprenticeship?


LDG  Yeah, the summer after Grade 12 I was gearing up to leave. I moved there in September and I met my friend Chloé in France, and then the course started in September – end of September – and it was a 6 month program. Before the course started, we took a visit to the village and checked it all out, met our teacher Agnès. And then it was finished in April, for a total of 892 hours, to be exact, of apprenticeship.



EQ3  Wow! So what did a typical day look like then? When did it start? When did it end? What did you do?


LDG  It was a very detailed, organized course…more so than I expected. We started every day at 9 o’clock. Chloé and I were living together in a tiny little stone house without any heating, it was just heated with a wood stove, like a wood fireplace. We were given a deux chevaux car. It’s actually like an antique car and this one was her grandfather’s, who had passed away. Her grandmother still had this car and she gave it to us to use for the year. It was a very noticeable car. She and I would get up in the morning and drive the few kilometers to our teacher’s studio and we’d stop at the bakery on the way and grab some hot bread, and usually half the loaf would be gone by the time we got to the workshop.


First we would light a fire to warm up the studio, and then we’d start kneading the clay. And that was a full body workout. I remember after the very first day, I looked at Chloé and said “I can’t physically do this. I don’t know what you were thinking when you suggested I come with you, because I’m not strong enough.” Just kneading the really hard, cold clay was such an upper body workout. But you get used to it. Over time, you don’t notice it anymore.


The morning was always more directed learning – learning the rudiments of turning on the wheel. So that was 3 hours of every morning. Our teacher would throw a pot. We started with a cereal bowl, and so she threw that and she would take the measurements – very specific measurements of the base of the bowl, and then the lip, and the width of the opening. And, she’d leave one pot for each of us. She would turn it on our own workstation because there were just two students…it was just the two of us. So she would do one for each of us. We would watch her turn a pot, and then we would do our own. We’d do about a dozen. We’d try to, as best we could, copy. And then the morning would finish with an analysis. So we would take a cross-section. Using an iron wire, we would slice the pots in half. We would take the wire and pull it underneath the pot half way and then bring it up and that would just slice the pot right in half, and we would analyze the cross-section of the clay. And, that way were able to see if our bottoms were too heavy, if they were too thick, if the walls were thinning out in one area, and we’d take measurements of the base, and the lip and the circumference, and note that in our journals. So just behind you there (Lane points to a cluster of papers hanging on a nearby wall in the coffee shop), those are some of the notes we wrote down – the weight, and then all the measurements. And, then we’d eat lunch together.


And, then the afternoon was entirely different. We were still in the workshop, but it was more open-ended creative work. So we might have done some drawings, we might have done work on a wheel…just more whimsical stuff. Things like if we were wanting to work on a project of our own, or if we had an idea – something we saw maybe at an exhibit in another city and we wanted to try that out – then that was our time to work on more self-directed pottery.



EQ3  And, so when did your day wrap up?


LDG  It wrapped up at 5 o’clock.










EQ3  So did every day look just like that? Monday to Friday?


LDG  Mmm hmm. Monday to Friday. And, we would finish the month with a firing. So every month it was all very exciting because firing is a very emotional process. When you’ve created all these pots – maybe at the end of every day, you might keep one of the pots that you’ve turned on the wheel, if you were so lucky…if our teacher deemed it, you know, worthy of keeping. So we would have maybe a dozen pots at the end of a month and the last three days of the second last week we would designate to making all of our glazes by hand. So following recipes…sometimes recipes that even our teacher had never tried. We were just experimenting with different chemicals and different elements, and so we would add our glaze and then fire for the last week. We would either do an electric firing, or a gas firing or a raku, or a wood firing. Wood firings were a really lengthy process, so those only happened usually twice a year for potters. So we were lucky enough to assist with two wood firings throughout our year.


Then the last day or every month we would unload the kiln. We would always do an electric firing, so there was always something exciting. So we would unload the kiln, and it was like Christmas morning, where you’re opening up a present. You’d open up the kiln and just pull out all your pots. You had no idea what a certain combination of glaze would produce. So if you ended up getting a pot that was really, really green, you would know it was because of all the chrome that you added to it. Or magnesium would give maybe a more purpley effect. Or cobalt is always associated with blue glaze.


And so that part of it was really interesting – the chemistry behind it – but if you asked me to describe it in detail…I have it all in French in my head. Our teacher was pretty strict about us learning the vocab, and the chemistry, and just taking notes during the whole process. And just sort of cataloguing the process of building the kiln, and keeping all of our recipes for every single glaze. So a lot of the work that we did was actually academic and written work, although she was someone who never finished high school. But she had created this course that was extremely legitimate, although she wasn’t able to offer a certificate at the end of it. But it didn’t matter because she was just doing her thing.



EQ3  What experience did you – or Chloé – go into this experience with?


LDG  Very little. Chloé had played with clay a few times. She might have taken a short course throughout high school, and I had never turned on a wheel before my first day. I was nervous about that because I was under the impression that Agnès only took apprentices that knew what they were doing, but she takes people at any level. We were at beginner level and that was perfectly fine. She adapts her course based on where you’re at, and where you’re interests are.



EQ3  That’s amazing. So how did that unfold? How did you get into the course to begin with, if she only takes two students at a time?


LDG  Well, like I said, Chloé went to France the summer before we left. Her maternal Grandparents took her to this pottery village because Chloé’s mom passed away when she was nine, and her mom was a potter. Her mom had left Chloé a lot of her tools and a lot of her own pottery and tons of her ceramics books, and Chloé thought, if I want to get to know my mom more, then I need to go through those steps too, physically. So she went into it with the intention of seeing what her mom went through and trying to get to know her mom more. And, so she came back to Winnipeg after that summer, told me about it, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. I was in French immersion, so moving to France was a great opportunity for me to practice my oral skills in French. That’s something that they don’t emphasize enough, I find in French immersion, so being completely immersed in that was definitely a draw. And then, having always loved art throughout high school and elementary, I decided “Okay I’ll do this…what needs to happen.” So we both wrote a hand-written letter of intent and sent it in – snail mail – and then, got a response back from Agnès…and I suppose her response was good…and then, yeah “like Bob’s your uncle”…. (she laughs). I don’t remember, it just all came together and before I knew it I was flying to France.



EQ3  Just the way you described your home and your drive and the bakery shop…it sounds like something out of a movie. Was it really as idyllic as it sounds?


LDG  I remember riding my English bicycle around the village and thinking “I’m in France!” I just looked over at my friend all wistful…like ”I can’t believe this is actually happening.” But for me, I’d be lying if I said it was all hearts and rainbows because it was definitely very difficult to leave and to be fully immersed in a village where no one spoke English. I’m really thankful for the strong foundation in French that I had, but even then, it took a long time for me to throw myself out there and really go off on my own. But the village people were really, really welcoming…and entertaining.


It’s hard to put into words – but it was such a routine, I guess. Like I described…getting up in the morning…one of us, actually, would have get up really early in the morning, like 2 o’clock, and put more wood on the fire. So we’d take turns doing that. We would put ourselves to bed – we pushed our beds together – and we had a few pairs of socks on, we wore socks on our hands, we wore toques, we were in sleeping bags, we had like ten sweaters on each. We had our families from Canada send us warmer clothes because we were so cold. It was colder there than it was in Winnipeg. Or, it felt colder because it was humid and just more chilled to the bone. And, the houses in France are less equipped. So that part of it was an eye opener.










EQ3  Do you have a favourite part in the process when you’re working on a piece – one that resonates with you more?


LDG  You know, I think probably the stage of conception, when you’re thinking about what to do next or how to start a project. I love drawing inspiration from other artists…now. I think at first I felt a lot of pressure to be original. So sometimes I was stumped when I had to start a new project because I thought “Well, I don’t want to do this because I don’t want to look like I’m copying someone else.” But I got over that, and that’s the most exciting part now for me…researching and kind of exploring what else is out there. Because, you know let’s face it, there’s so much out there and so many creative people – even just in Winnipeg – and so, if you sit there worrying about being original, you won’t get anywhere because chances are whatever you end up creating is like something else, and been done before.


So what I found most exciting was going to different galleries, and part of the course actually incorporated trips up to Paris for different exhibits. So our teacher would drive us up there on weekends, on her own time, and show us either an open house for her own work or for another artist’s work. And it wasn’t always pottery, but yeah, just showing us what else was out there. So we went to the African Art Museum in Paris and then we went back the following week and studied that and tried to make really round vessels that were inspired by the round shape of the human body, or like a maternal figure. Or, we’d go to the oriental museum of ceramics in Paris and then come back and study maybe like a Japanese technique. So learning from other artists and then trying to emulate what they’ve done…and borrowing too. I remember seeing a painting by Giuseppe Arcimboldo…he makes these paintings out of fruits and vegetables, like portraits. So I wanted to do something with that, but I didn’t want to use paint. I remember in another museum seeing a mobile and thinking how cool it would be to make a mobile. So I ended up taking fruit and slicing the fruit, and then hanging it with fishing line and making a mobile face out of fruit; and, I ended up creating something unique, but in the process I did feel like I was stealing from other people. But, I think that’s okay.



EQ3  What other (art) mediums were you dabbling in…or do you dabble in?


LDG  That year in France was primarily clay, different kinds of clay – we used Australian stoneware, terra cotta stoneware, and porcelain. But, actually the following year I went back to France and did a little bit more pottery, just for fun, visited the village again, and saw my teacher. And the year after that I ended up moving to France, again, but this time it was to study French. I was studying at the University of Bordeaux. But even though I went there to take Psycholinguistics and French Literature, I ended up being in (courses) like Photography and Print Making. And, so that was absolutely amazing.


I absolutely loved print making, and that’s something I would like to pursue more here. I find that, actually, it’s similar to pottery in the sense that the unveiling of the final product is emotional, just like unloading a kiln. When you’re piece comes out of the printing press, you’re never really certain. It’s so uncalculated, I guess. It’s that aspect that I’m really drawn to.



EQ3  And, currently you’re working towards becoming a teacher – is that right? Do you have plans to integrate art into that?


LDG  Definitely. I think the game plan is to teach art and to always have art in my life. I don’t think I could live without it. But, whether that’s being an art teacher in schools, or teaching art privately, or just working as an artist, freelancing…who knows where I’ll end up.


Towards the end of our year in France, Chloé and I were both preparing our portfolios for Fine Arts. She ended up following through with that and I took the French route and pursued that. And now, she’s got a Fine Arts Degree, I’ve got a French Degree, and now we’re both meeting again in Education with the same goal of eventually teaching art.



EQ3 Any thoughts on Agnès (your teacher)? What was she like?


LDG  She was extremely vulgar. I learned most of my French from her, which was a very interesting experiencing because I would learn from her, thinking this is how most people spoke, and then I’d go up to Paris and stay with other friends or family and friends of Chloé’s and throw out these country expressions…so it was an interesting learning experience.


But as vulgar, and as whimsical, and as happy-go-lucky as she was, she was still very focused and very organized, which I really admire. And, I was talking before about copying and stealing ideas from other artists to then create your own work, but in terms of teaching that’s another area where you can totally steal ideas. And in my teaching now, I often think about the way that she taught us because the whole course was a riot. We were laughing non-stop all day long, but yet we produced and we learned. I think it’s a really, really hard thing to accomplish. It’s just so admirable the way that she ran her course. Despite seeming like she was flying by the seat of her pants, she wasn’t unconcerned with the future. We had a schedule that was pretty regimented and we followed the schedule very closely. I think she is definitely the person I look up to most, in terms of teachers.










EQ3  Of the pieces you’ve designed, do you have a favourite? A specific piece? Or maybe a type of product that you enjoy making most?


LDG  Yeah, well the piece at the very end (Lane points to a big, round vessel), that one, well it is the biggest and it took the longest, but that one is really interesting to me because the base was turned on a wheel and then the rest of it was hand built. And so, I really liked that process…building something…like a really thick, sturdy base and then building up by hand and being able to manipulate the clay in a way that you can’t on a wheel. So the way we started with that, it was our final project.


Unfortunately, Chloe’s had an air bubble in it and exploded in the kiln, which is just one of the things you have to live with. Yeah, “it’s the life of a pot,” as my teacher said. But, anyway, we started off with charcoal, just drawing different forms. And so that piece came from one of my sketches and so I guess I’m really attached to that piece.


But another one that was really fun was the eggs (she points to a group of eggs with a crackled design). We made those on a wheel, and they’re actually hollow on the inside. It’s quite an involved process, too, which is why I like them so much…just the steps to it are all very different. First you turn it on the wheel, and it gets fired in a naked raku. It gets fired at a really high temperature and the temperature rises really, really quickly. You shock the pots by removing them from the kiln immediately, rather then letting the kiln cool down. And so from there they get put into a big pail of wood shavings and that catches fire. And then from there, the pots are thrown into a pail of cold water and that shocks it further…and that creates the crackled effect. And from there, the glaze is still caked on to the outside of it, so you actually have to scrape it off, like a turtle shell, and then underneath is what you see there – the final product. So it’s quite an involved process for such a little vessel.



EQ3  You mentioned about the “life of a pot,” or ”la vie du pot” – can you elaborate on that? Where does that term come from? What’s its meaning?


LDG  Yeah, well I’m glad we decided to put that term into the exhibit, even though it might not make a lot of sense to the random person who sees it. But it means a lot of to me.


I guess the “life of a pot” means you never really know what’s going to happen to it. There’s all these steps involved with pottery, and that’s kind of what we tried to show in the exhibit. When I was first discussing it with Jae (Make Coffee’s owner), he was really intrigued by the tools and the process of pottery. People are most familiar with the final product, and that’s often what’s showcased in pottery exhibits. And so, we really wanted to emphasize the life of a pot – where it starts. We made all of our tools by hand, initially, as the course started. That was one of our first projects, and then making our own stamps as a signature. So just going through the stages of it being a wet ball of clay, to thrown on a wheel, to….shaving off the base of a pot. And, then from there it was the drying process, and that’s an art in itself…the waiting, playing with different plastic covers…and then there’s the glazing and loading the kiln.



EQ3 Do you remember the feeling or what was going through your mind the first contact you had with clay (pottery)?


LDG  I was shaky. I remember…I was in pain because my hands were rubbing against the steel wheel and it just tore up my skin. That didn’t go away for 6 months, no matter how much I would bandage it up. But we would just start again the next day and it would tear up again. And, the clay stains too. We were mostly working with stoneware, which is like a dark grey, and so that stains your entire forearm. So yeah, my first contact was definitely pain, and just feeling incompetent, but it’s a really cool sensation. I remember seeing people working on a potter’s wheel in movies and thinking “that’s so appealing…”



EQ3  That’s how we’ve always felt watching it.


LDG  And, it is very much like that. I think it’s the contact with the clay that gives me the most pleasure, and being able to manipulate it directly with your own hands. But what I learned very quicky is that if you’re hesitant and if your nervous, or if your stressed, it’s reflectant in your work. Our teacher, if our pots were falling over or just constantly weren’t turning into anything, she’d say “stop…eat a little piece of sausage” or dark chocolate and maybe do some tai chi and calm down because if your breath was really shaky, then your pot was definitely going to be shaky too. So just focusing on stability of your hands is really, really important, and I think that’s one of the biggest things that I took away.



EQ3  How is it now that you’ve been doing it for a few years?


LDG  Well it was 5 years ago, and like I said, I went back the following year and then I actually moved back to France 2 years after that, again. But ever since I’ve been back in Winnipeg…I’ve kind of put pottery on a bit of a hiatus. It wasn’t actually until I got the job here that I experienced this revival in my passion for pottery. I guess it was having conversations with people, other employees here, or customers coming in that are interested in design and art and really value the stories that I had to share. I remember when I first got the job, going home and telling my roommate that “I’m so stoked to be working here because I’m reliving all of my experiences in France…because people are encouraging it. They’re asking me questions.”


I guess one thing that I really didn’t expect was, first off, I was feeling really, really attached to my pottery, and being ecstatic that I could display it and share the story with everybody, but then feeling a shift in my mindset when all of a sudden I decided that I was going to sell it. I thought “I really want to hold onto this experience. I don’t want to lose the journey that I had in France. I want to hold onto these memories because that’s who I am.” But all of a sudden it kind of dawned on me that I went to France for the experience and for the skills, and I’ll never lose those skills. And the pottery…the fact that I was able to bring 300 kilos of pottery back with me was the icing on the cake, and this exhibit was furthermore the cherry on top. And so, I guess I’ve realized that selling your artwork, as hard as it is, is a really important step for all artists…to let go and to part with it. And parting with it, for me, is motivational, and now I feel an accountability to pursue pottery further and to get back into it.


Having it on display is one way of letting others in on the experience and sharing my experience with them, but it’s even more to let them take it home with them and use it. So it’s been really awesome to see people use the bowls to drink out of and have that contact with something that I spent so much time thinking about first and then making.








EQ3  To wrap up, is there anything you’d like to add? Anything you feel would be important for people to know?


LDG  I would love to be able to tell anyone who’s interested in art, any kind of art, not just pottery, to just go for it. I guess I was hesitant at first and really doubted myself, even when I first got started, but you need to persevere and not be afraid of challenges…and, not be afraid to steal ideas from other people (she laughs)!



Thanks Lane for sharing your art with us and your stories!

Follow Lane on Instagram @potterybylane and on Tumblr at lanegibson.tumblr.com to see more of her work.

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