If Calgary's interior design future isn't going to be of a Western heritage style, what might it be? This may be an ideal time to develop a new design identity for the city, which could blend some interesting new ideas with emerging trends throughout the world. “More unique spaces would be fun. It's great to follow trends, because that's what helps us keep pace with all the great cities of the world, but I think there's always room for uniqueness, perhaps putting a spin on the Western details” said Diane Sawa, Senior Interior Designer with BKDI Architects.
But following trends in design can indeed be a perilous exercise. Trying to stay on the leading edge of design can mean chasing a moving target. Blending heritage and contemporary design may stave off the “that's so now” factor that can plague attempts to design interiors for the moment. “This is reflected in the design details of certain spaces. For example, the numerous restaurants along Stephen Avenue where the original brick has been left untouched and is used as a design feature. By keeping the original base design and then introducing contemporary accents such as interesting light fixtures, glass mosaics and metal finishes, we can successfully merge the two styles. Lastly, bringing in cool, sleek furniture is the icing on the cake,” said Chau Tran, Interior Designer with BKDI Architects.
Calgarians need to start thinking about how to best use their spaces, and contemporary ideas can be a useful tool to that end, such as bringing green spaces inside buildings. “Because Calgary has winter eight months of the year, designers are bringing the outside in, and that's very hip, sustainable thinking,” said Chau. “Having Green Walls, and bringing landscape elements inside so we can still enjoy those things.”
Restaurants tend to lead the way in Calgary in this fashion, creating more unique interior spaces, since patrons are more tolerant of unusual design in these spaces they spend limited amounts of time in. Those designs can then bleed out into the rest of the city, into homes and corporate spaces. “That's the biggest hurdle in bringing contemporary design into more frequently used spaces,” said Tremayne Dam, Senior Designer at BKDI Architects. “Educating the client is a big task. If the client's not willing to go down that path, you're doing something that is cookie cutter and has been done before,” he said, adding that it may simply take time and familiarity. “We need to open up to the idea that there are newer, better ways of doing things. The only person that's happy when you save money on interiors is the accountant.”
To view part one of this article click here: Interior Design Perspectives: Old Meets New – Part I