Each item carefully crafted by an artisan contains a story. The story is that of the medium — be it primordial stone, the potter’s clay drawn from diverse landscapes, or crystal born of an almost alchemical process.
It is also the story of the artisan’s soul, which enters each unique design. It is often a story of triumph over adversity, the dedication to perfection despite all obstacles, and the willingness to linger over fine details in a fast-paced and mechanized world.
These are the stories we have curated for our Luxury Home & Design Show, which will bring together world-class artisans May 3–6, 2018, in Vancouver. Attendees will engage with these artisans and their work firsthand.
Through our Artisan Gallery, we give readers a glimpse of these stories.
Ancient Art of Stone
The solid, yet ethereal, art of stone
The stone megaliths of humanity’s distant past speak to the timeless and spellbinding nature of stone as an artistic medium. Ancient Art of Stone taps into that magic, reaching deep into ancient traditions to create mesmerizing artworks.
Its founders, Andreas and Naomi Kunert, create spiraling stone murals using “sacred geometry” — inspired by the shapes that form galaxies, hurricanes, and ferns as they unfold. They carve smooth and mystical scenes in stone, accentuated with onyx, basalt, crystals, and many rare materials. A basalt and stone bar they made even contains a 300-million-year-old nautilus from Madagascar and petrified wood from Mount St. Helens.
Their artwork is so moving, it has often made people cry at trade shows. “Being right in front of it, they will just start to weep,” Naomi says. “Sometimes grown men say, ‘I don’t even know why I’m crying. I don’t usually cry.’”
The Kunerts believe in the healing and metaphysical properties traditionally attributed to stones and crystals and have found their work helpful in bringing healing through their use of these materials.
Bullnose Tile & Stone
Tiles imbued with the power of the Earth
Bullnose Tile & Stone’s dedication to quality brings us tiles expected to last up to 2,000 years. It produces its own hand-crafted tiles, but also curates tiles from masters all over the world. Its Japanese collection comes from Gifu, where tilemaking dates back to the 7th century.
This collection embodies the traditional Japanese aesthetic of Fundo Tsunagi, or “linked weights,” a pattern that represents purity and is based on the balances found in nature. It is inspired by the Buddhist balance of the five elements: earth, water, fire, wind, and sky.
Some of Bullnose’s collections are distinctly American, like the Motawi collection from Maine, featuring pine landscapes and winter cardinals. The Motawi workshop produces the same number of tiles in a year as other factories produce in a day — such is its emphasis on detail and refinement.
Bullnose supports handcrafting, preferring techniques such as hand-brushed glazing — which can give a unique blending and shading reminiscent of watercolours — to spray glazing. Bullnose’s colourful and diverse selection is true to the company’s motto, “Rebellion against monotony.”
Crystal sealed by the approval of King Louis XV
Saint-Louis has developed its expertise in crystalware since crystal was first invented. It all started in 1568, in the forest of France’s Vosges Mountains, a setting that lends itself to alchemy and dreaming.
Its master glassmakers transformed sand into the clearest glass possible, an almost sorcerous feat for the time. King Louis XV gave the company his royal seal, making it the “Verrerie royale” (royal glassworks) in the 18th century. At about the same time, Saint-Louis started using the recently discovered technique for making genuine crystal.
Today, its mouth-blown, hand-cut, and hand-decorated crystal is considered among the best in France. It has been used at luncheons to host royalty. It has held the most prestigious perfumes and spirits. Its bespoke services have created fantastic pieces, such as a chandelier nine metres tall.
Music boxes carefully attuned to a person’s heart
Reuge music boxes are a favourite gift for heads of state. During his presidency, Barack Obama received one from the emir of Qatar. Though it was made at Reuge’s workshop in Switzerland — in Sainte-Croix, the very birthplace of all music boxes — it had to be Qatari in character.
It included a Qatari singing bird, the chiffchaff, and elements of automaton design by the ancient Arab polymath Ismail al-Jazari. It’s this kind of personalized and thoughtful design that makes a product “luxury,” says Reuge’s CEO, Kurt Kupper.
“Luxury often is only symbolized by money, which is wrong. It’s about realizing what is important in life,” he says. Kupper wants to know about the personality and passions of the person for whom he crafts a music box. This is what will make it most valuable to that person.
Reuge has made unique designs to suit widely disparate personalities, from Jack Ma to Deepak Chopra.
Over the company’s 152-year history, it has maintained its classical heritage, while adding innovations like iPhone compatibility.
Three Centuries shop
Three centuries of beloved objects and the stories behind them
In one of Vancouver’s most exclusive antique stores, behind a discreet but distinctive door in Kitsilano, resides some of the grandest luxury of all the ages.
The objects in Three Centuries Antiques have silently witnessed great moments in history. If they could tell us what they have seen! The resplendent objects include a jewellery cabinet commissioned for Napoleon’s mother, and china from the table of King George IV.
Owner William MacKinnon has spent years hunting for particular objects. Chandeliers of precious stones cast a glow across tables of exotic woods in Three Centuries Antiques, which is also MacKinnon’s personal residence.
“I am blessed because I’m able to live surrounded by beautiful things,” he says. “And every one of them has a story.”
Text by Tara dos Santos