I recently spent a week in Vancouver, where the seeds of my AREA 17 adventure were planted. It was there I met Arnaud Mercier in Y2k while working for Blast Radius and I still remember the buzz that was created when his Elixir Studio Subway portfolio got sent around, along with the news that he would soon be joining our ranks. I was only a couple of weeks into my first real position as a designer, and over the next couple of years I had the opportunity to learn from him and a host of other incredibly talented art directors whom I continue to hold in high regard. I guess that’s why Vancouver has always felt particularly rich in design for me, despite the fact that the Canadian city does not have as many cultural offerings as New York or Paris (a fact subtly lamented by Arnaud at the time). So it was with an odd sense of pride that I discovered a thriving design culture, especially in Gastown, the city’s oldest neighborhood.
Among the gems I discovered were the impeccably curated selection of goods at Old Faithful, the carefully crafted bites at Meat and Bread, the exquisitely packaged products at The Juice Truck and the delicious prix-fix at Pidgin where the line is blurred between east and west in both design and cuisine. I learned from friends that many of the new projects in Vancouver’s historic center are the result of a collaboration between two local design firms: Ste. Marie is a multi-disciplinary design studio that works on bespoke commercial and residential design projects locally and internationally, while Glasfurd & Walker are a graphic, web and branding design company with local and Australian roots. If you’re headed that way, you can do no better than to follow the guide provided by When They Find Us, both a listing of some of the best places in Vancouver and a collection of interviews with key contributors to the city’s creative culture.