Chances are, if you’ve got a well-dressed home, you’ve been influenced by Arren Williams’ eye. The British expat has been sharing his urbane aesthetic with Canadians for nearly two decades — first, as a commercial prop stylist; then as design journalist and stylist for top national style magazines like House & Home, Style at Home, Chatelaine and Flare. In 2013, Williams jumped from trendspotting to trendsetting in a two-year stint as the creative director of the home department of Canadian iconic department store Hudson’s Bay. The culmination of his work is now making waves internationally via his own brand, Casa Cubista, a contempo-Portuguese housewares collection that has quickly become a favourite of style-savvy design editors.
“We describe Casa Cubista’s start as a ‘happy accident,’ ” says Williams. “My husband [David Pimentel, a co-founder of the company] and I were in Portugal on sabbatical and discovered all these talented craftspeople. Friends introduced us to traditional tile makers who make handmade tiles the same way they [were made] in the 16th and 17th centuries and we were hooked. The business started in the spring of ’16, and now you’ll find our collection in select retailers across Europe and North America, including Saudade in Toronto.” So where does this design-insiders’ design insider go to shop? Here’s the scoop on five of Williams’ favourite shops and boutiques.
01 Casa Cubista
Can’t make it to Portugal’s Algarve coast or to Le Bon Marché in Paris to pick up Casa Cubista’s handmade housewares? Shop Casa Cubista online, where you’ll find timeless artisan pieces crafted from cork, terracotta and cotton. “The palette is simple and minimal — an on-trend mix of natural materials, paired with soft white, black and blue, so everything works together,” says Williams. Best part? “Everything is still made here [in Portugal], often by small family-owned producers who are excited to try something new or [to] see their traditional product presented in a contemporary way.” casacubista.com
02 Provide Home
“Since 2007, Robert Quinnell and David Keeler have curated an incredible selection of the world’s best home goods, all with a warm, often handmade, modern vibe,” says Williams. With a design aesthetic that’s unmistakably contemporary and yet unequivocally homey, Provide offers one-stop shopping for the discerning nest featherer — everything from Martha Sturdy resin tableware to Missoni Home towels and Lite+Cycle essential-oil candles — in other words, a stellar browsing destination. Notes Williams: “Their showroom, in Vancouver’s design-centric The Armoury District, is quite the stunner.” 1805 Fir Street, Vancouver; 604-632-0095; providehome.com
03 Lambert et Fils
“Lambert et Fils are quite the design darlings,” says Williams, noting that the Montreal-based lighting studio is a hit with in-the-know design aficionados. Its pieces have been featured in the pages of Elle Decor, Surface and Wallpaper, among other influential print and digital publications. Founded in 2010, Lambert et Fils has built its reputation with residential and commercial pieces crafted in brass, marble and powder-coated aluminum, drawing inspiration from mid-century modern, minimalism and the Industrial Age. “Their new release, and my new fave,” says Williams, “is their Laurent collection, which marries post-modern shapes with a minimalist spirit.” 5355 Saint-Laurent Boulevard, Montreal (by appointment only); 514-394-0762; lambertetfils.com
04 Scandinavian Modern
“For drool-worthy Scandi and Danish vintage finds — no home is complete without a piece or three — a scroll through this Winnipeg-based online retailer is a must,” says Williams. While you can’t browse their warehouse without making arrangements beforehand, you can keep on top of inventory by following them on Twitter or Instagram (@scandinavianmod), as Williams does, for “a regular dose of modern master realness.” It’s also the best way to call dibs on that mint Hans Wegner Opala table lamp or CH52 easy chair. scandinavianmod.com
05 Kit Interior Objects
This Calgary shop is a top destination for lovers of modern design. Whether you’re seeking an Eames lounger for your living room or the perfect Flos task lighting for your home office, you’ll find it here. Says Williams: “I love stores that offer a contemporary look with the requisite wit and humour to make it all livable, and Kit definitely does that in spades. Here, hip American brands like Blu Dot and Areaware rub shoulders with Italian design heavyweights like Cappellini and Cassina.” 725 11 Avenue SW, Calgary; 403-508-2533; kitinteriorobjects.com
By Yuki Hayashi – *This article originally appeared in INSIGHT: The Art of Living | Spring 2017
Photos: Lambert Et Fils, Arseni Khamzin; Casa Cubista