Canadian Interiors May-June 2022: Returning to the Ritual of Home
Like woodland creatures emerging from a winter’s hibernation, it feels like we are tentatively stepping into a post-pandemic world where the focus on not just our physical but also mental health has become more important than ever. While our initial reactions were to bring as much of the workplace home as possible, the pandemic has left many people craving the warmth and comfort of traditional rituals in their homes such as bathing, sleeping and eating, and are looking to integrate products and design trends that promote such health.
In this issue of Canadian Interiors we isolate and examine individual moments within the home where office work has no place, which include: a drool-worthy bathroom suite designed using the architectural principles of a traditional Turkish hamam; a galley-style kitchen in a tight condo footprint that places functionality, ergonomics and innovation at the forefront; a luxurious penthouse master bedroom inspired by a refined masculine aesthetic; and a wish-I-had-it-as-a-kid room that provides individual privacy while carving out play space in inventive ways.
We also expand the lens to include an examination of several homes designed to prioritize and display clients’ extensive art collections, in essence functioning as a house disguised as a gallery, oscillating between a family’s livable space as well as a unique combination of art, objects and architecture all while elevating the experience of space and re-imagining the line between the precious and the practical.
And speaking of the precious and the practical, we assemble a range of new and noteworthy product launches in the residential sphere, including: bathroom collections that balance luxury and opulence with the ever-rising hygiene consciousness; products once regarded as simply utilitarian in the kitchen that are now seen as a means of personal expression; a look at ever-improving eco-friendly technology in countertops and backsplashes that are also eye-catching space anchors; and lastly, outdoor furniture that vividly demonstrates how comfort and style don’t have to be confined to the indoors.
Additionally, like explorers returning with spoils from the New World, we also report on head-turners and conversation-starters – from new product launches to dynamic installations – found at IDS22 in Toronto, the show’s first in-person gathering since the onset of the pandemic.
And finally, it was our pleasure to invite our friend, Ian Rolston, a design leader, equity strategist, speaker, mentor and Lead Consultant at Decanthropy, an equity design consultancy delivering social change through corporate equity initiatives, to continue a conversation he began back in the September-October 2020 issue of Canadian Interiors about the A+D industry’s diversity apathy, how the battle must continue despite signs of equity fatigue and how “we must commit to the work of introspection that uncovers root causes of how inequity serves the business of design.”
Editor’s Notes: Cut the Cord
Thanks to the pandemic, design discourse continues to be dominated by issues of health and wellness, at least if the torrent of survey data being released every week is any indication. We already know that wellness is a top priority for users of all types of spaces, ranging from commercial to industrial to residential, but it is so important to homeowners that the ASID made it a key issue in their 2022 Trends Report released in March. “Homeowners are increasingly searching for designs and products that will promote good health and an overall sense of wellbeing,” says the association in a press release that accompanied the Report. “Clients are gravitating toward simpler, cleaner, easier-to-maintain designs, as well as outdoor living spaces and places where they can relax and restore from the increased stresses of everyday life.”
The underlying sentiment here is straightforward and not much of a surprise to anyone. But perhaps a follow up question that should still be asked is “What are these stresses of everyday life?” Are homeowners anxious about indoor air quality and infectious disease control in their own homes? Maybe, but probably not as much as those unanswered work emails staring at them from a laptop while sitting in a hybrid workspace carved out of their kitchen.
Also released in March was the now-regular Mental Health Index survey by LifeWorks that revealed a growing percentage of Canadians struggle with disconnecting after regular work hours. “Concerns regarding disconnecting from work are not new, however, work from home and hybrid work have brought the concern to a new level,” says LifeWorks president and CEO, Stephen Liptrap. “As the worksite is now overlapped with home, the benefits of flexibility can easily be countered by lack of separation from work.”
Being in a space surrounded by perpetual perceived incentives to remain “connected” has serious effects and can result in a word that we thought was the domain of the office. “The indications of burnout could not be any clearer,” says LifeWorks senior vice president, Paula Allen. “Motivation decreases with burnout, not because people no longer care about their work, but because they lack the energy to engage fully.” Engagement is only possible if followed by disengagement, which we should feel safe and secure to do at home in spaces designed for exactly that purpose.