Third Annual Avenue Design Challenge: Johanne Lewis
Three Designers. Three Curveballs. One Room.
By Adrianna Szenthe | February 1, 2015
Three local designers – Nancy Korpany, Jacqueline Davis and Johanne Lewis – took on the annual Avenue design challenge. Curveball item in hand, each designer moved in and out of the space under strict time limits. We photographed the results.
The task: To design a living room in a Glenora home.
The catch: Each designer was given a fictional client and a curveball item that had to be incorporated into her design.
The winner of this challenge will be decided by Avenue readers. Check out the designs below, consider how well each designer showcased their curveball items, and vote for the winner.*
Curveball: Honouring Heritage The clients are a couple who have strong aboriginal backgrounds. They celebrate this in the art that they collect. They have two pieces that are special to them; a modern portrait of a prairie First Nations chief, and a piece of Haida wall art – both of which must be featured in the room.
Maureen Wright and Johanne Lewis – the Mo and Jo behind their design firm, MoJo Designs Inc. – have been working together for five years. The two co-owners seem to share a brain, constantly finishing one another’s sentences as they discuss the spaces they have designed.
Originally from England, Lewis confesses that she wasn’t familiar with First Nations art, and had one initial reaction to her curveball pieces: “Oh my God.” She sat down to brainstorm with her team and eventually came up with some elements that would honour the heritage of the curveball pieces without turning the space into a caricature.
“I think when you look back in the day, when these people were roaming the land, they were using the leather, they were using wood, so [we were] trying to use those things that they may have used back then,” says Lewis. They were also trying to keep the space rustic and incorporate natural elements while also giving it a modern edge, she says.
Wright mentions the woodworking vignette series that MoJo Designs Inc. recently set up in its store. The vignettes contained pieces from local artisans, and MoJo returned to the same artisans when seeking pieces for this space. The coffee table and side tables are handcrafted and designed to look like raw slabs of wood, the grain visible and the edges organic. The shelving contains a similar rustic feel that is modernized by the inclusion of dark metal pipes.
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Lewis and her team also tried to pull out some of the colours of the curveball painting, she says. Since another art piece may have competed against it, Lewis and Wright incorporated colour in the area rug and pottery throughout the space.
“Natural elements tend to be all those browns and caramels, so we needed something that would give your eye relief from all those natural colors,” says Wright.
Many of the small art pieces, borrowed from the Alberta Craft Council, reference organic and natural elements. From the wood buffalo and polar bear sculptures to the copper piece that Lewis points out, which can be interpreted as either a leaf or a canoe, the design honours the spirit of the curveball pieces by keeping a strong focus on nature and the land.
Portrait of First Nations chief
Haida wall art
Reside Furnishings, (10434 Mayfield Rd., 780-444-7800, shopreside.ca) Megan leather chairs and Ellington console wall unit
Signature Lane Interiors,(10915 170 St., 780-453-2200, signaturelaneinteriors.ca) City Craft leather love seat and Teak coffee table
The Area Rug Gallery, (#100, 17834 106 Ave., 780-483-1992, thearearuggallery.com) Hand-made Indian wool centennial rug
Jack Lumber Co.,(9820 90 Ave., 780-686-1052, cargocollective.com/jacklumberco) Metal industrial floor lamp
Prairie Boys Supply Co.,(10657 116 St., 780-498-2668, prairieboyssupplyco.com) Wood base floor lamp
Mojo Design Inc., (1, 10340 134 St., 780-455-5229, mojodesigninc.com) “Looking Through The Trees” art work, terrariums,”The Egg Holder” soap stone carved hand
Alberta Craft Council,(10186 106 St., 780-488-5900, albertacraft.ab.ca) Ceramic tile art, Trojan buffalo by Voyager Art & Tile, ceramic plate and stand by Janet Grabner, metal boat by Daryl Richardson, hand-woven blankets by Ilya Oratovsky, raku bowl and raku shallow bowl by Patricia Hartnagel, polar bear raku by Lisa Wilkinson, vortex glass vase by Jeff Holmwood, chlorite inukshuk by Allan Waidman, fused glass landscape by Lisa Head-Harbidge, blown glass vase and blown glass bird by Darren Petersen, blown glass vase by Nicole Tremblay, ceramic vase by Joan Matsusaki
*Voting has now closed for this design challenge. The winner will be announced in our May 2015 issue.