Friday 21 October 2016

Local Love | Pacific Design Lab

Marble + Walnut | Fir with flame finish
Believe it or not, amongst the hustle and bustle of a big urban city, Vancouver is still brimming with talented artisans. Each day, I am discovering new Vancouver-based companies; however, one company that caught my eye when I first started Pink Tea Latte is Pacific Design Lab.

I first came across their stunning wood boards at an adorable boutique along Main st., Nineteen Ten. I was instantly drawn to their Fir wood boards finished with a unique flaming method. I finally got to meet the lovely husband-wife duo from the team, Alanna and Brandon, at the IDS West Interior Design Show. To my astonishment, Alanna was already familiar with my blog and social media accounts. I was beyond flattered when Alanna agreed to have me write a piece on Pacific Design Lab.  

Pacific Design Lab is the consumer half which organically emerged from the Pacific Solutions Contracting (PSC), first established in 2010. Some of the most iconic Vancouver restaurants to emerge over the past couple of years were creations of Pacific Solutions. These include the Tacofino Gastown location, Nook Kitsilano and the newest much raved about, Fable Diner. Primarily known for their skilled craftsmanship in woodworking, Pacific Solutions Contracting are versed in many other techniques and have created a name for themselves working with some of the trendiest restaurants in Vancouver.

As amazing as PSC  is, the creations by Pacific Design Lab are what really caught my attention. Instead of disposing the left over pieces of wood from PSC projects, Alanna and the team turned them into serving boards for personal use. Eventually, Alanna's friends and family were asking for their own, so as the demand continued, Pacific Design Lab was created.

The Fabulous Alanna - one half of the husband-wife duo
Pacific Design Lab strives to use locally sourced wood. Expect to see a lot of stunning Fir, Maple, Ash and Walnut wood in their pieces. I asked Alanna what style she would call her pieces.

“Our style developed very simply from what we love. We love curating beautiful, functional pieces in our homes and that is what we love building too! Our style incorporates clean lines with modern elements, such as beautiful walnut or white-washed ash wood paired with hand-stitched leather or a deep, matte black steel table base. Our pieces are easy, functional, and often have customizable options to make it something truly special for our customers.”

Alanna really wanted to embrace her Pacific West Coast roots; therefore, keeps her pieces really organic with a west coast vibe. She wanted to create pieces that accent and highlight the natural beauty of each piece of wood by working with the wood to embrace its character. Therefore, no two pieces are alike, but that is what makes Pacific Design Lab's work so unique and appealing to me! Their pieces are often left with a clear finish, as a coloured stain would obscure the natural grain and beauty of the wood.

Coming into their third year of business, Pacific Design Lab is beginning to develop and diversify as a brand. Amongst their beloved wood boards, there is now marble and wood boards as well as their new line of fuse boards. The fuse boards use food safe biodegradable epoxy and really highlights the natural live edge of wood. The clear epoxy is really unique as it joins two pieces of wood together. I would be curious to see them use two different types of wood in one fuse board.

In collaboration with Hives for Humanity, Pacific Design Lab has their own line of wood care products. 
Their wood boards are stunning, but Alanna stressed the importance of good wood care. The bane of all wood is water! Absolutely no dishwashers and minimizing moisture exposure. The key is to wipe your wood down with warm soapy water and immediately drying it with a towel. When your board begins to look dry, apply some wood wax or wood oil to restore the board's luster and colour. In keeping with their commitment to sustainability and supporting local, Pacific Design Lab partnered with Hives for Humanity to create a custom blend of food-safe oils and BC bees wax. For those of you unfamiliar with Hives for Humanity, it is a non-profit organization that strives to foster community relations with their sustainable projects.  

I asked Alanna what we can expect to see in the future from Pacific Design Lab. She has always wanted to create her own line of furniture. They have just begun the transition by doing the E 28 Collection, exclusive to Nineteen Ten. The three pieces in the collection (Station Block, Main Bench + Prior Table) are constructed from reclaimed butcher block wood and stainless steel frames for an elegant yet durable piece. Earlier this year, they debuted the Access Collection (available online and select retailers), Pacific Design Lab's first stand-alone furniture collection that is designed to get people outside and into the community! I cannot wait to see how Pacific Design Lab flourishes in the future!

With the holiday season fast approaching, the team at Pacific Design Lab and Pacific Solutions have an exciting initiative coming up. Raising money for the Terry Fox Foundation’s fight to end cancer, the team has created a 2017 charity calendar that will see all proceeds going to the cause. These will be available starting in November, just in time for the annual West Coast Winter pop-up taking place on Saturday, November 26th. The Pacific workshop will be transformed into a market and community event that sees local vendors selling their handcrafted items (perfect for holiday gift shopping!), food trucks, local craft beverages, and a community long table to meet and be merry. Entry is by donation and supports the WISH Foundation, a non-profit to help women in Vancouver’s East Side. Follow the event on Facebook here for the full details.

I appreciate Alanna and the Pacific Design Lab for inviting me to their workshop in Chinatown, Vancouver. I had so much fun touring their work-space and seeing up close the amount of time and passion that goes into each and every one of their pieces. Hope to stock up on a few of their stunning wood boards myself! You can find their pieces at several boutiques across the lower mainland as well as their online store.  


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