Large firms dominate the design market — but not because of their scale. They represent the most approachable brands in the flooded space of interior designers, and this is something any client will appreciate.
It is difficult to ascribe the label of "best interior designer" to any one firm or individual because the vocation requires immense creativity, an eye for transformation, and a unique ingenuity for every project. Otherwise, an agency appears stale and behind the curve. Plus, no company wishes to look or feel exactly the same as another, just as individuals wish to be just that — individual.
Interior design is highly subjective. Considerations of what's "trendy" are often purely in the eye of the beholder. Getting many to agree that a design touches greatness is what it takes to become the best of anything.
The following firms have proven their worth — within the Vancouver market and elsewhere. They sit at the top of their profession because quality, acclaimed work, and a client-driven mentality resonate in each of their projects.
Kasian Architecture Interior Design and Planning
Kasian has a storied reputation and a formidable portfolio to match. Established in 1983, the firm's reach stretches across Canada and far beyond, into the Middle East and elsewhere. Business in Vancouver rated Kasian second highest in billable staff, and with such a crowded industry, this is no slight feat.
Marta Sensidoni, one of Kasian's lead designers, says what's most important is being client-oriented.
We don't have specific styles. We are made up of individuals with different tastes and skills.
Projects are matched with a unique palette of designers Kasian feels are the optimal choice to create an exceptional and appealing design.
One specific project, the Esker Foundation Gallery, for which Kasian was awarded a 2013 International Design Institute of B.C. (IDIBC) Award of Excellence (Robert Ledingham Award), points to a specific example where an already unique space met with equally unique client requests.
The idea behind the Esker was to support the arts, says Sensidoni. Calgary's lack of an artistic hub is what led Jim Hill, 62, to approach Kasian with orders to investigate and turn the top floor of the $80 million, four-storey development into a versatile showroom that could display artwork of varied scales and dimensions.
But the Esker, at the Atlantic Avenue Art Block in Calgary's picturesque Inglewood neighbourhood, is just one award-winning example of the extraordinary work Kasian designers achieve.
The only thing is making the client happy. And design excellence,
Other notable Metro Vancouver works are Surrey's million-dollar City Hall revamp and BCIT's state-of-the-art aerospace technology campus. No matter the breadth or function, Kasian delivers awe-inspiring designs on a variety of projects in various industries. Certainly, Kasian dwells among the upper echelon of West Coast design firms, with a reputation that transcends Canadian borders.
SSDG Interiors is another firm with a long-standing interior design history in Vancouver. Founded in 1979, SSDG is now the fourth largest firm in Vancouver as of 2013. In fact, if you live in the Lower Mainland, you have likely walked into several of the spaces one of their designers helped design. From Rogers Wireless shops to Hootsuite's wood-inspired, open-space HQ, SSDG boasts an extensive list of references and awards. From the workplace to hospitality, retail, and more, SSDG offers a full range of services.
Blackburn Young SSDG Interior Interior, Design by SSDG Interiors Inc.
Photography by Ema Peter Photography
When we design a space, we want it to be a reflection on our client's brand,
says Susan Steeves, one of three SSDG Interiors partners (the others are Gerry Shinkewski and Julie Campbell).
Steeves notes that SSDG is one of the oldest design firms in the city and one with the longest-standing original partners, leading this firm to where it is today.
What's most striking, given the amount of locations designed, is the variety in layout and approach. From bright, silvery-white interiors to dark and dim, Indian-influenced compositions, the level of diverse artistry and decorating panache is remarkable. Even medical wellness centres carry a comfortably modern and cozy appeal that won't turn off any gender based on the design and decorative attributes.
Blackburn Young SSDG Design, Interior Design by SSDG Interiors Inc.
Photography by Ema Peter Photography
Kenna Manley, SSDG Interiors' registered designer, points to the Blackburn Young Office Solutions project, which also won the firm a 2013 IDIBC Award of Excellence in the workplace category. Of the style and purpose behind the Blackburn design, Manley says, simply,
Clean, crisp backdrops with all pieces accentuated.
Blackburn Young is a modern, commercial furniture dealership, says Manley. It required a multifaceted, open-space configuration to make best use of the company's brand and products. Admittedly, a few glimpses at the upbeat, bright yet sophisticated images of the Vancouver office do more justice than any words can.
SSDG Interiors is an approachable firm with copious amounts of design talent and flair. With a staff of 22, great taste in colour, and an eye for functionality, SSDG stands out as a firm worthy of acclaim and your next project.
Blackburn Young SSDG Design Interior, Interior Design by SSDG Interiors Inc.
Photography by Ema Peter Photography
BOX Interior Design Inc.
BOX Interior Design staff coins themselves "hospitality specialists" and indeed they are. Founded in 2002 by design school lovebirds, Jay Brooks and Cynthia Penner, BOX Interior currently sits among the top 12 in total billable staff in Vancouver's crowded interior design industry. But with awards accumulating on projects located in Canada and the U.S., BOX stands out from the competition with spectacular and eye-catching designs.
What helps set us apart is that we take a brand-specific approach. We don't have a set style or look,
Each client is approached with a clean slate, seeking an unbiased and unique look for each and every design — if that's what the client wants.
Stepping into the Fish Shack on Granville Street in Vancouver, BC, will introduce you to everything BOX Interior Design exemplifies — modernity and class. BOX was awarded a 2013 IDIBC Award of Excellence in the food and beverage category for its redesign of the once Moroccan-themed restaurant that was in the (often precarious) position of seeking a restaurant makeover on an already established enterprise
Brooks explains that they couldn't just paint the space. They had to add texture.
The most significant things were the shipping pallets on the wall. It is the main element, the most powerful,
Projects like the Fish Shack, Black & Blue Steakhouse, Market by Jean-Georges, and O Lounge — all popular Vancouver spots — demonstrate the elegant but stunningly creative minds at Box Interior.
Stepping inside one of their creations is a visually stunning experience as you trace the intricate design and decorative details throughout the space. And when it comes to transforming a hole in the wall into a stunner, BOX can help — even under extreme budget constrictions.
Kasian Architecture Interior Design and Planning, SSDG Interiors, and BOX Interior Design Inc. are a few of the top billable interior design firms operating in Vancouver. But it isn't their size, and it isn't just their unique designs, that makes them first-choice firms. It's the care and tailor-made approach to each client or inquisitor.
Unlike some smaller namesake firms who refused to answer even the simplest questions, these companies were swift in response and passionate about communicating their values and their work. And this can be the make-or-break factor to any successful first-time design or makeover.
For your next West Coast project, look no further than the above firms, who will work with you and not from a perceived position of superiority — which is quite important when it comes to designing your space.