Our Design Community is our series where we visit and talk with different firms within the Winnipeg design community about their approach to design and what made them fall in love with their work.
This time around we are meeting up with Jennifer and Alexandria from DLUX. Two women with great style who get their inspiration from travels and who loves seeing Winnipeg grow and unfold with new amazing business'.
Please, introduce yourself
Jennifer, showroom manager and stylist, and Alexandria, interior designer.
Has Winnipeg always been home for you?
Both: Yes, born and raised.
What is it about Winnipeg you find especially captivating?
J: What I find captivating about Winnipeg is the community. We have so many amazing small businesses whether they are local coffee shops or cool new restaurants. There are so many people who are investing in the city and creating a community they want to be a part of and it’s very inspiring.
A: I agree with Jennifer, there’s a great sense of community here with a lot of support for small businesses which we love. The scale of Winnipeg is just so nice - it’s not too big, not too small - it’s the perfect size where everyone kind of knows each other with some sort of degree of separation. Both on a personal level as well as on a professional level with our clients.
To dive a bit further into that, do you find that Winnipeg has gained more momentum within the last 10 years or so?
J: I feel like there’s a new generation coming in and they’re very creative people with big visions. They are investing in the community and making Winnipeg a more unique place.
A: The general population here just loves that. We are willing to support that and we want to see Winnipeg grow.
Do you have a favourite coffee shop, restaurant, shop in the city?
J: I would say Thom Bargen, Little Sister and Vera for sure.
A: For me it’s Harth, because I just went there last night and it was delicious and beautiful. Nola is also high up there. Their food is amazing. And what is the ramen place called? ..Yujiro!
Yes, they are fantastic! I only go there for lunch though, because you know, they are right next door to us.
A: Oh right! Of course! That’s when they have the ramen too so that works out perfectly.
Fall is on our doorstep, do you have any rituals for welcoming fall or anything you like to do during our very short fall here in Manitoba?
J: I love fall. It’s all about embracing routines and getting back to the swing of things. To be cozy.
A: There’s just the coziness of fall that is so nice. I feel like it’s a time to get together with everybody. Everyone is so busy during the summer. Personally I do a big "Friendsgiving" dinner where we have all our friends over and have a Thanksgiving of some sort. It’s not usually Thanksgiving food, we do different themes every year. It’s just so fun to have everyone back together again and re-group for winter and actually spend time with everyone as everyone spreads out over the summer. Touch base with everybody again.
Let’s dive more into design now. Have both of you always had an interest or eye for interior design or can you remember when it started??
J: I would say that my love of interior design started very young. My parents gave me free rein on my room so I would always redecorate my room and paint it in different colours. I blame the show “Trading Spaces” for influencing me at a young age.
A: I have always known as well. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t obsessed with design. I remember as early as grade 2, sitting in class and drawing out - very unrealistic - floor plans like designing a 10 story school with pools and gyms and all that kind of stuff. At that time though, I didn’t realize that it was a career option. I was about 12 when my mom suggested that I go into architecture or interior design and from then on that was my focus!
Alexandria, what made you choose interior design over architecture?
A: I was in the Environmental Design program at UofM and during the first year that you are in the faculty, one of your professors sits you down and goes through what your aspirations are and to help guide you to which route you should go into. With Environmental Design you have the 3 different routes you can go: Architecture, Interior Design or Landscape Architecture. I sat down with my prof, his name was Jae, and he suggested that since I like to focus on details on a smaller scale and like to see projects through at a faster pace that I should go into interior design.
And you, Jennifer, did Interior Decorating at Red River College?
J: Yes, exactly. I did the decorating program at Red River and that landed me here.
Who or what are some of your biggest design inspirations?
A: My design inspirations are always changing. Right now I’ve been looking to Jean Stoffer, Ashley Montgomery and Anne Carr for inspiration. But I feel that in a general sense I get a lot of inspiration from my travels, visiting different cities and from environmental things too, whether it’s from the seasons and the colours sparking an interest or an object that I see. It’s really fun how ideas can unfold and spiral from just one little thing that sparks your attention.
On that, is there a place you’ve visited lately that is currently inspiring you?
A: I just got back from Vancouver and there are just so many beautiful restaurants there to get inspiration from. I’m constantly taking photos of the restaurants that I’m eating at. I’m that dining partner who is always staring at everything around while trying to hold a conversation. All of the designers here also went to Toronto earlier this year as well and stayed at the most beautiful hotel. The lobby, lounge and restaurants had some really amazing details. We still keep referencing the details in that hotel, trying to pull on some of those to work into different projects.
And for you Jennifer?
J: I think [it’s] also ever-changing for me and traveling is also a big inspiration. I find that it’s always in a funny place that I get my inspiration, I’ll be in a hotel lobby and suddenly will be inspired by the amazing design in there. Instagram is also a big source of inspiration, I constantly am finding new designers and inspiration there. I also love picking up an interior design book; as in an actual physical book. Going through beautiful design books always gives me inspiration.
Are there any projects you’ve been involved with where you are particularly happy with the outcome?
A: It’s a funny question because I am the newest designer here and have been with DLUX for about a year and a half (although I’ve been working as a designer for 8 years). None of my projects have been professionally documented yet, but there hasn’t been any that I haven’t been pleased with. I am, though, especially excited about a couple that will be coming down the pipeline, so stay tuned. There are a few that are just going to be absolutely breathtaking - both new builds and renovations.
J: I would say that our Crescentwood Classic project was probably one of my favourites. It was the first project where I really got to be apart of the furniture selection and all the decorating. It was really exciting to see it all come to life. To do the full home installation was something else and we spent multiple days there just unpacking and setting up and when the client got to see it it was just really exciting! The office in particular is near and dear to me, it turned out so lovely.
A: It’s a project that our clients reference a lot as well when they meet with us for the first time and it’s just a huge compliment.
When designing for your clients, what are some of your key ingredients that you find are particularly important to think of?
J: I think that our clients lifestyle is one of the biggest things we take into consideration when designing a space. Our ability to truly understand our client’s aesthetic and learn how they want their home to feel is key. It’s all about creating a harmony between form and function.
A: I definitely agree that the lifestyle of our clients plays probably the biggest role in how we design, but I feel like we design in layers almost. The first layer is their lifestyle - what is going to function the best for them. Then in the next layer we add in what their idea of a beautiful space is. What is our clients inspiration design-wise and aesthetic-wise? Then we come in with our style and expertise to fold in the little details to make sure that everything flows together in a very nice cohesive overall design and pull it all together to give it that beautiful DLUX look.
This might be somewhat similar, but is there an element or ethos you hope to bring into your clients home through your design?
J: I would say that DLUX’s ethos of obsessing over the details is something that we believe in and incorporate into all of our designs. It’s those little details that take a space and make it really feel like a home to a client.
A: I agree. We are very detail focused and truly want our clients to have the best experience with the whole design and renovation process. We are very fortunate that we work with a group of nine designers who are all extremely talented and bring their own level of expertise and different ideas to the table.
Favourite Hut K item. Do you have one? Do you have many?
J: The Good Times coffee table I’ve been eyeing up for a really long time now. Also, the upholstered Harbour dining chair from Menu is a piece I’ve been wanting to put in a project for the longest time.
A: One day! I’d say my favourite piece right now is probably the Blu Dot Lid bed. Very cute! I love the aspect that you can choose if you want it with extra storage or not. I am eyeing it for myself, haha.
Nina just got it for her house, so you’ll have to keep an eye out on instagram because you will probably see it there in the nearest future. Moving on, your roles are slightly different so could you both walk me through what a typical day looks like for you?
A: I feel like I don’t have a typical day per se. Every day is kind of different. In our office all of us are on different projects that are at different phases all the time. Today for instance, I reviewed some cabinet shop drawings for one house, am picking out light fixtures and plumbing fixtures for another house, starting a new layout for a third house and have to go to a job site to check on renovation progress. Every day is different depending on where each project phase is at.
J: Each day for me is also very different. On a usual day it is a lot of computer work and social media managing, content creating and managing the showroom. Other days it’s running around the city sourcing items and preparing for photo shoots and home installations. It’s that variety that makes my job so fun.
Do you also collaborate on a lot of projects?
A: We do! Depending on the size of the project. Some of them will just be individual projects but if it’s a large project we typically have two or three designers on it and collaborate that way.
J: It’s very collaborative.
A: Yes, and we all have our personal styles as well, so I feel like that is a really nice blend different styles and develop different ideas. We also work in an open office so we bounce ideas off of each other a lot!
Just out of curiosity, we are supplying furniture for one of DLUX’s big upcoming projects - Is it you who sourced the furniture for that, Jennifer?
J: Yes and the two designers who designed the house. For the most part I’ll take the lead on the furniture but the designers are also very involved in the selections. It’s fun to follow along the journey of the home getting designed. It really helps in selecting the furniture. If I see a piece that I know would be fantastic in a certain space, I’ll make note and have it as an option for furniture selections when the time comes.
If we were to peek into your own home, how would you describe the aesthetic and do you have a favourite room or nook in your home?
A: Mine is incomplete. I just bought a house a year ago in Linden Woods, so between travelling and redoing the outdoor kitchen area and wedding planning - I’m getting married in a few months - we just haven’t had time to focus on the interior a whole lot. But I have big plans! Within the first few months I had redone the entire layout in SketchUp. It’s a great space and it’s going to be beautiful - one day!
J: I would describe the aesthetic of my house as mid-century yet cozy and a little bit moody. I love slow decorating and collecting things over time and at the same time I try not to be too precious with my house. I’m ok with things developing a patina over time and becoming lived in. I love my home and creating a cozy environment. With fall arriving as well, I feel like all I want to do is snuggle up under a blanket at home.
Is there a piece in your home that has a unique story? If so, what is it?
A: Our house was owned by just one family before. They bought the house when they were young and lived there their entire lives while building their family and moving through the stages of their lives. So on their walls they had left some framed crochet little pieces of art that were just adorable. I took them down to paint, but want to re-display them in the house to give a nod to the previous owners. You could tell that there was a lot of love put into that so I am going to incorporate them somewhere in my house.
J: I love collecting antiques and vintage stuff. There’s a picture I got handed down and it’s a vintage photo of two victorian dressed ladies in front of this old mansion that are my ancestors from many, many years ago. I have that on my shelf in my living room and I always feel like it’s a special piece. I’m very curious to know who these ladies were. It’s just those little pieces that make a house so interesting and personal. Which reminds me, we just did a big install for a client and she had the most beautiful antique book collection. We used them to style her living room built ins and she was so happy to have these items out where she could enjoy them everyday. Unique items like that is what makes a house a home to me.
A: It was stunning! It’s so nice when clients have those unique things that are so personal to them and I can really focus on and highlight those for the client. It’s incorporating those little things into the design. It just hits a really special place.
That’s a wrap! Thank you so much for chatting with us. It's been such a pleasure getting to know you a little bit more.