Decorating & Design

May 14, 2009

Beyond Magazines

I’m a magazine addict. So are most of the editors here at H&H. We never tire of poring over perfectly styled pictures, looking for ideas and reading about what prompts people’s choices. But sometimes creative lightning strikes where you least expect it.

Last weekend, the Hot Docs documentary film festival wrapped up here in Toronto and many of the movies that took the viewer into people’s homes revealed scenes of a different sort. Typically less polished, occasionally more intimate, but just as inspiring. Which got me looking outside the glossy for fresh takes on interiors that might spark invention, not imitation. Here are three projects that have me seeing my rooms — and the stuff in them — in an unexpected new light.

grey objective poster

1. Design devotees are invited behind the creative curtain in Objectified, director Gary Hustwit’s follow-up to his hit film Helvetica. This time, he’s investigating the importance of design in everything from toothbrushes to chairs. Along the way, we find out what constitutes good design and how that definition is changing. Featured designers include Marc Newson, Karim Rashid, Apple’s Jonathan Ive, Hella Jongerius and many more. But the highlight for me was hearing from former Braun designer Dieter Rams. The film will be available on DVD and iTunes in July. Until then, check out the trailer at Gary also told me he’s already working on the next film in this design trilogy, but he wouldn’t reveal specifics except to say that it will be more ambitious than the first two. (I’m betting he turns his lens on architecture next.)


Vintage Braun radios by Dieter Rams, who asserts that good design is as little design as possible.

2. Oh, if our walls could talk! Montreal photographer Robert Polidori is convinced they can, and his arresting photographs of interiors and exteriors prove him correct as we gaze upon walls that poetically reveal the emotions and events of their successive occupants. From May 22 to September 7 at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, 59 of Polidori’s photographs will be on view, including his Versailles series and images snapped in Havana, Beirut and New Orleans. Click here to see more of his images.

red room with ladder

Velours Frappé and Ladder shows the passage of time at Versailles and the successive renovations it has undergone.

3. On May 6, the Vancouver Art Gallery unveiled Ought Apartment, a towering sculpture by hometown artist Reese Terris that looks at interior design and renovation as social phenomena. The installation rises up through the gallery’s impressive rotunda and consists of six full-sized residences stacked on top of each other, each representing a decade of décor from 1950 to the present. The evolving floor plans reveal Canada’s shifting social values and the progression of home design, but it’s what stays the same that’s most interesting to me. The work will be on display until September 20.

two staircases

Reese’s take on a typical 1950s home. To create the sculpture, Reese salvaged cabinetry, fixtures, flooring and furniture from residences slated for demolition or renovation.

grand room with silver hanging lamp and plasma tv

Sleek, wired and minimal: the sixth and top floor of artist Reese Terris’ Ought Apartment represents the first decade of the 2000s.

Photo credits:
1-2. Objectified poster by Build and vintage Braun radios from
Objectified website
3. Robert Polidori’s Velours Frappé and Ladder from
4-5. Reece Terris’ Ought Apartment, photographed by Rachel Topham,
Vancouver Art Gallery