#24 : : DesignPlan : :

: : DesignPlan : :

Interview with Lydia Pawelak, interior designer, Montréal

Lydia was a student in one of my design classes at the International Academy of Design
in Montreal in 2002. In that she had an established career as a photographer already
and she came back to school for certification as an interior designer was quite different
and very interesting. Further she had already received her certification in Feng Shui
prior to enrolling at the Academy.

Hi Lydia

Well, since we last saw each other in an AutoCAD lab, you’ve gone on to make a name,

and a reputation in commercial design here in Montréal….

Can you tell us about recent projects?

LP : :  We were working on the expansion of the IGA in Préville, South Shore for over a year,
and our theme was inspired by the surrealism of painter René  Margitte (back to my Belgian roots).
We are presently giving the IGA in St Lambert a face-lift, and were hired to give a new look for the
office of the website company K3 in Old Montreal, it is great to work with a young group of people.
We also are designing all the public spaces of a condo tower in Boucherville called
Les Terasses Vincent d’Indy, just finished working on the entrance and the elevator this week.

DP::  I know you and your partner have been doing major design work for the IGA stores in
and around Montréal. How did tat work come about for you? [IGA stores are a national Canadian
food retailer – Independent Grocer’s Association – which generally partners with previous grocery
store owners, more or less like a franchise] 

LP : :  I finished studying at the Academy of Interior Design, and was looking for work.
Interior designer Sylvie Lalonde was looking for an assistant at that time and contacted the Academy.
I received her information through the Academy, and went for an interview. I was hired and assisted
Ms. Lalonde for 6 months working on the IGA of Complexe Desjardins, owned by Ms. Louise Ménard.
We worked so well together that we became associates after the six months. Since then we have created
the IGA at Place Dupuis which opened two years ago, by the same owner.

We only work on the IGA’s owned by Ms. Louise Ménard, most of the other IGA’s all have
the same look created in-house by the franchise Sobeys.

DP:  Is it just the two of you who work on these jobs?

LP : :  Yes, just the two of us.

DP:: Can you give us an instance, of say, a design development initiative, where everything was moving along
in the right direction, and all of a sudden – due to no fault of yours, a major change in direction had to be
introduced into the design/planning?

LP : :   This can be stressful. The opening of the IGA at Place Dupuis, about 35,000 sq ft was postponed a
couple of months, and my associate already booked her trip to Thailand. She left near the end of the project
and I was left by myself during 6 weeks, not to mention that all of this work was in French, while I studied
interior design in English, so I was still struggling with the technical terms.

We had planned to use sculpted decorative panels by Form-Art all around the atrium and have them painted white,
this was decided about 7 months earlier and we tried to harmonize the rest of our design accordingly.

I received a phone call from Ms. Ménard herself on a Friday morning that due to technical and budget reasons,
I had to come up with another idea because the panels were a no-go. I had a few hours to do this. I finally was
able to get the weekend to brainstorm and get in touch with Ms. Lalonde  over Skype in Thailand, the only time
in six weeks that I asked for a meeting, and we came up with something simple but equally enticing.
So, I had my 3D drawings ready on Monday morning with our proposal which was accepted.

Whatever idea you come up with, you always have to be open-minded, and when something falls through,
top the previous idea. It pushes your own creativity, it’s not always easy to detach yourself from the original idea,
but when you find something even better it becomes very rewarding.

This is what they started with…..

The first step of a developing idea/concept….. 

It’s starting to look like something pretty special….

ahhhhh!  Sushi!

DP:: I know that before you studied interior design you spent some years as a professional photographer…..
how is this work/profession different from that of photography?

Photography (I specialized in the performing arts, dance, theatre, film) for me was like a 100m sprint.
Very intense, no room for mistakes, no second chances, using your reflexes, knowledge, intuition,
being completely in the present connected with your subject.

Interior Design is more like running a marathon, a good start, then some obstacles, you are slowing down,
feel you aren’t moving forward, you get inspired again, it tests your limits on all levels, and you have to keep
on going, never forgetting the big picture.

Very cool graphic for the door of the fish department

…with a similar approach for the fruit/vegetable department

In place of signage using words, pictograms are utilised….

Very effective and punchy…..

Typical signage/graphic detail – note how the letters IGA form the background of the graphics…

A very slick/sleek shopping cart, designed and manufactured in Italy

A general view of an area of the store…..the rich dark floors provide great contrast and ‘POP’ for the accent colours and packaging

A very cool custom design for the lighting – like celery growing in the middle of the store…..

 DP:: Do you see any possibility of re-combining both skillsets? I know a few issues ago we featured the work of
David Joseph, an American photographer, [Issue 3-2]  who graduated in architecture and almost
immediately went into architectural/interior photography….

LP : :  As a photographer I was always more interested in photographing people, so eventhough
I did some architectural photography, I found it a slow process. However, having worked in the visual field
definitely helps me in the Interior Design field, especially when it comes to choosing colours, contrast and composition.

DP:: Can you tell us about the best project you’ve been involved in in the last year?

LP : :  Last year was the IGA in Préville with the surrealistic theme.

DP::  Do you have much of a need to do any 3D model-building – digital models, of course?

LP : :  I use 3D off and on, it helps to present the ideas to a client.

DP:: You know, I still have your CD of the kitchen design you completed in AutoCAD and  3D MAX –
I show it to my students…..didn’t know that did you? You were very good – very precise, in the craftsmanship….

LP : :  Thank you. I really enjoy working in 3D.

DP::  If you were to hire a recent design graduate today, what  qualities and skills would you be looking for?

LP : :  Mostly technical skills, good communication, as we spend a lot of time on the phone with our suppliers,
and someone who has a passion for interior design, and doesn’t consider it just as a means to make money.
It’s a very competitive field and from watching all the reality design shows on television, most people don’t
really know how much work is involved and how much time it takes. That goes for a lot of residential clients as well.

DP:: Have you joined any professional design association? If not, you should investigate APDIQ…..
you might find it would be of value to you professionally…

LP : :  Ms. Lalonde is a member of the APDIQ.

DP::  What is your most favourite aspect of interior design?

LP : :  The creative process at the beginning, and then seeing it come to life in the end.
Overcoming challenges is also rewarding, when you come up with a good solution and it looks well on top of it.

DP:: What is your least favourite?

LP : :  The financial aspect. Having to explain why it takes the amount of hours you charge, because again,
through the reality shows, people think that everything can be done at the drop of a hat, they don’t know
how much work and time goes on behind the scenes.

DP:: Do you enjoy dealing with clients? Have you  had any, shall we say, issues with a client?

LP : :  I enjoy dealing with clients when they have realistic expectations.
I had a new commercial client last year, who asked us to work on a design, and when we proposed several designs,
they finally wanted us to just put on paper what they had in mind, which had nothing to do with our design.

It didn’t make sense and it made you wonder where one should draw the line.

DP:: If you were a piece of furniture what would you be, and why?

LP : :   Sounds like a James Lipton question.
A contemporary table lamp. It’s decorative but has a purpose.
In the evening it touches everything in its surrounding, and creates a soft atmosphere.

DP:: And if you were a colour, what might that be and why?

LP : : That’s a tough one, because I like several colors for different reasons.
I would say SICO’s Cayman Blue. I looks like a happy color, like the turquoise water when
you visit the Islands in the South, feels free, and can stand on its own.

SICO 6151-52 Cayman Blue

Lydia – thank you for taking the time with us at DesignPlan…..you and Sylvie make quite a terrific team.
Please keep us posted on other projects that you get involved in.


: : DesignPlan : : Report from the Field – AmyCarter, design intern, Bristol, UK

Hello! As it was only a 4-day workweek it’ll just be a short post today. This week I have been developing
a concept on my own for the hospital project. I have been doing loads of research, and have been in contact
with many sales representatives to see which products are most suitable for healthcare.
This was my first experience of ordering samples, e-mailing sales reps, and talking on the telephone.
Every now and then I print off my work to show the head interior designer – then we go through
my ideas together. Afterwards I develop my concept further.

We both agreed on a double height focal feature wall for the space, but are unsure on how to
achieve the desired look. On Monday we are going to an office in Bristol called Artworks to see if they
are able to make my concept idea a reality. I am quite excited for this!

It has been a heat wave this weekend and I have been out enjoying the weather. More next week I promise!

: : DesignPlan Architecture : :

A most wonderful house by the Portugese architect Pedro Gadanho

All photography by:  Fernando Guerra, FG + SG | Architectural Photography

This great project was shared with us by our friends at DesignMilk

: : DesignPlan : :  My Work

Last Sunday I flew to Ft lauderdale and connected to a nighttime flight to Freeport, Grand Bahama.

Old clients of mine, Del & Bill, live in a fabulous beach house, on the beach – 30 miles east of Freeport.
It is isolated and quiet – very quiet there. Ten years ago I designed this house for them and we have been
completing it, bit by bit, ever since.

So – we are now, finished – as of yesterday. At least for the time being.

When they bought the property there was an existing frame 2 bedroom cottage on it. They lived in the cottage
while the construction, which took a year, was finished.

Then they converted the cottage into a rental villa – it is reserved for a maximum of two people at a time.
With it’s 40 foot screened in porch overlooking the Caribbean, it is also a very charming, if rustic, habitat.

On my last visit, about 4 years ago, I designed the dining room table shown below. It was custom made of
in polyester lacquer finish. On Wednesday of this week, we flew from Freeport back to Ft Lauderdale and spent
two intense days running around from showroom to showroom, store to store, in search of two items….
replacement chairs for the dining table which we found….we settled on the Ghost chair, designed by Phillipe Starck for Kartell.



We bought six of them knowing that normally only 4 would be used……but these chairs
are stackable which is a great bonus feature.

Our second quest was for a special signature chair to replace the wing chair seen in the
corner of the living room. Our first choice was the Tulip chair by Cappellini…

Until we got a quote…….$9600.00
Seriously….$9600.00. Astounding! Yes – it is a gorgeous chair, clearly meant for the home
of a very rich patron….

We didn’t buy it. We also didn’t buy the egg chair by  the EGG chair designed by Arne Jacobsen in 1958.

We did look at it – we did try it…it was comfortable, but, Del fell in love with another classic : :

It was the last one in the showroom, hanging from the joists on a chromed chain. We got a stool, stood up
and took it down. We next rolled it in a continuous strip of 30 inch wide bubble wrap, used great gobs of
duct tape, and man-handled it out to the van. From there we delivered it to the shipping port at Port Everglades
for transit today to Freeport. It will probably be installed within the week.

The dining table is: :

Lighting conditions were far from ideal, but the primary essence of the table design is visible –
like a large comma, it is irregular in shape. The Ghost chairs will be terrific with it……

The general living room is : :

I’m sure you can visualise the bubble chair where the wing chair now sits……BTW – the complete space is being re-painted this week
following a soft  grey/mauve/taupe palette. The coffee table was created by Bill from a monster driftwood piece that washed up
on their beach.

As the whole space is one open flowing area, the kitchen is entirely visible. When I designed this space, I designed the island table
using Corian in one solid piece….it literally floats in the space. I also designed all the kitchen cabinetry using a palm leaf motif
on the doors in greens and blues.

This week’s post is 5 days overdue, for which I apologise. It had been in my plan to complete it even though I was
on the road all week and returned to Montreal only this evening.

It remains to be seen as to whether DesignPlan will continue in its present form.
Should there be substantive changes necessary I will provide updates as things occur.

DesignPlan is a very enjoyable effort for me……. unfortunately I cannot possibly devote the amount of
time required to include even a fraction of all the wonderful finds I come across, all the great and
innovative products, the ingenious designs.

And, to me, there is little point in doing a design blog that consists merely of visual ‘sound bites’.

Next post will be within 48 hours as I regain balance in time/effort.



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