March/April 2024

Canadian Interiors March-April 2024: The Many Shades of Home

Our definition of concepts such as “family” and “home” have undergone significant changes in recent decades, and as a result we are experiencing family life and home space in increasingly different ways. Data lines on a trend graph don’t rise or fall consistently anymore: for example, the percentage of one-person households is on the rise, but then again so is multi-generations in a single household.

Consumers’ ideas of what a home should look like and how it should function are evolving, and so too are interior designers’ responses to those ideas. In this issue we speak with four designers and firms who are doing work in and around the residential sector, and in each case zero in on some key design themes that dominate their thinking.

“As cities evolve along with technology, buildings tend to become more mechanistic and less connected to nature,” says David Anand Peterson, espousing how modern residential design doesn’t have to be in opposition to nature. He presents examples from his work of strategies that enable us to feel more connected to our surroundings; how thoughtful design can mitigate the effect of human encroachment on urban habitats and foster new ways for flora and fauna to peacefully coexist; and the health and wellness benefits we gain from a deeper connection to the natural world.

Next, we speak with Dochia Interior Design about how neurobiology impacts our reading of space, such as perceptual biology on feelings of ecology; context theory and its contribution to feelings of safety and comfort; how peripheral vision is critical for asserting focus and relaxation; and look at a recent residential project of theirs to explore how the firm has developed a design methodology that interprets this science, giving it aesthetic dimension.

We also cast our attention to the topic of luxury. With increased (albeit disparate) wealth and a desire for exclusivity, the luxury residential industry has expanded. We present two stories that exemplify this trend: a look at the 63-m. long Entourage, designed by Burdifilek for Damen Yachting; and we sit down with Chapi Chapo Design, the Toronto-based design firm with Yabu Pushelberg roots that are spending equal time on large-scale luxury hotel projects as they are on well-appointed private residences, and consider how the luxury market responds to trends versus drives trends.

Lastly, our cover story for this issue focuses on the variety and complexity of work coming out of Nonument, a Toronto-based architecture and design studio founded by Dom Cheng, whose spaces and objects merge art with use, “but never art for art’s sake,” says Cheng.

We round-out the issue with a round-up of new and noteworthy products seen at Heimtextil in Frankfurt and IMM in Cologne; and shine a spotlight on eye-catching new additions to a kitchen or bathroom remodel that blend individualized design and flexible integration, setting new standards in aesthetics and functionality for these anchors of the home.

Editor’s Notes: Many Ways Home

Measuring trends in residential design is like that parable of blind men encountering an elephant: it depends where you place your hand. One palm may touch issues like housing affordability, wealth disparity and other macroeconomic factors: soaring rents for all residential property types and stagnant quarters of house sales in Canada would suggest a reduction in demand for spending on home improvements. But the residential sector is still a juggernaut, and the market has been showing early signs of life over the last couple of months, probably no surprise given how much pent-up demand is out there.

Another palm may feel how the dynamics of Canadian households are undergoing a fascinating transformation: the patterns of who lives where, how they live and with how many other people today scarcely match the patterns our parents or grandparents were familiar with. Solo living, for example, is becoming increasingly prevalent. In Canada, the trend of living alone has been steadily rising decade-over-decade, with the percentage of one-person households growing from 13 per cent in 1961 to 29 per cent (or 5.9 million households) in 2023, according to Statistics Canada and YouGov. Concurrently, there’s a decline in the number of Canadians aged 25 to 49 who are married with children, reflecting broader demographic shifts towards an aging population.

Peter Sobchak
Editor in Chief
Canadian Interiors
[email protected]

In response to the changing landscape of household compositions, homes are undergoing modifications and enhancements to cater to the varied needs and lifestyles of today’s households. This evolution in family structures is reshaping the way we experience home life, giving rise to an intriguing array of living arrangements. As solo living gains momentum — especially when viewed against the bruising aftershocks of the pandemic — individuals are seeking deeper connections with their loved ones and communities. Designers see this and are leveraging their creativity to create spaces that promote comfort, community, and connection, while manufacturers are developing products that incorporate gathering spaces such as the proliferation of kitchen islands, to facilitating integration between different areas of the home, in particular the indoors and out.

This trend of making outdoor and indoor spaces cohabitate is exploding, with kitchens decked out with large window walls and living rooms equipped with retractable panels that extend onto patios, fostering a closer connection with nature. This tendency is evident both in the choice of indoor/outdoor furnishings and in the nature-inspired colours and textural richness and variety of materials used in indoor environments. The trend extends beyond interior walls to include outdoor heated havens equipped with amenities like pizza ovens and firepits, offering a unique space for socializing and relaxation. And this is happening not just in private areas: even in urban settings, the charm of front porch living is making a comeback, providing opportunities for neighbourly interactions and community engagement.

Wellness — that never-ending buzzword — extends in multiple directions. If “gathering” is a priority on one end, self-indulgence is on the other. Spa-like and boutique hotel-like bathroom elements are on display, especially along the aisles of tradeshows this past January, like the Interior Design Show (IDS) in Toronto or IMM in Cologne. There, exhibitors were showcasing ways to integrate refrigeration in the bathroom; hydration at your fingertips; tiles that take your temperature in the morning and a mirror that would even tell you what vitamin deficiencies you have. Drool-worthy bathrooms boasted features like frameless, doorless steam showers with rain heads, body sprays and built-in seating and curb-less entry.

The evolving household landscape is like that elephant, with seemingly disparate pieces coming together to create a whole, one that is driving a wave of creativity and innovation in interior design as designers and manufacturers strive to create spaces that reflect the diverse needs and preferences of modern lifestyles. From promoting connectivity and community to embracing self-indulgence and wellness, the future of home design is characterized by versatility, comfort, and functionality.