Vancouver's most sophisticated furniture store lives in the Armoury District
It's so sophisticated, it's more Paris or New York, than typical Vancouver. Yet here it is in the Armoury District.
Livingspace, in the former Mitchell Press building on First and Pine, showcases furniture, kitchens, lighting and accessories from European designers in a stunning, light-filled loft.
“Our philosophy is all about clean and modern designs that are also lasting designs,” said Livingspace president Ross Bonetti, who founded the company in 1988. “The kind that, 10-15 years from now, you're still going to love and give to your kids, the way Danish furniture was. Our furniture is not disposable."
Dressed in a simple black T-shirt and jeans, Bonetti exudes the same down-to-earth but sophisticated air as his store.The son of an appliance store owner, Bonetti was born into the job.
“My father says that when I was still in my crib, I was feeling my baby blanket for the thread count,” he says.
Livingspace: the unique space
One of the most striking features of Livingspace is its rippling white ceiling and staircase that juts out like an origami sculpture. It -- and the rest of Livingspace -- was designed by Omer Arbel, whose design and manufacturing company, Bocci, is on the fifth floor of the building.
Bonetti pointed out the window, you could see from Livingspace where glass artists from Bocci were steadfastly working.
Since moving to the Armoury district in October 2011, Livingspace has become a hotspot for Vancouver's design community. It not only works with the many designers and architects in the district, but also houses artworks and hosts events for the art and design community.
Recently, Livingspace hosted an event with Italian avant-garde designer Paola Lenti, and brought together Vancouver's design community for La Dolce Vita, a glamorous fashion show and fundraiser in support of the Emily Carr industrial design program. Guests mingled over cocktails, ate delectable food by Tacofino, Vij's and Bao Bei, while watching amazing clothes designed by Bacci and Boboli.
"The design program at Emily Carr is excellent," Benotti said, noting that three graduates from there are now working with him at Livingspace.
The diorama on the second floor features "Here", an installation by artist and Emily Carr alumni Charlotte Wall, on display until September 30.
"It's such a beautiful space," Bonetti said. "This, and having the Dolce Vita event – we couldn't have done it at our old place."
While the showroom on the first floor is beautiful, the second floor is where all the home designers scope out the items for their dream home. Visitors can choose from kitchens to furniture to linens to a futuristic Technogym, which features state-of-the-art technology to create a workout centre without clunky metal weights.
Bonetti points out some of his favorite designers, whose work has been showcased at his store: there's design star Pierro Lissoni (of Living Divani and Porro) who came to speak at Livingspace last September, and Rodolfo Dordoni for Minotti.
"Minotti is one of the best quality furniture manufacturers out there," Bonetti explains. "Companies will go to Minotti to see what the trend is, even though they do things very subtly. It's about making high, high quality furniture that's timeless."
Subtle, modern yet timeless: if Livingspace is increasingly a popular presence in Vancouver, it could be that the designs reflects what the city itself aspires to be.
Visit Livingspace at Pine and 1st Avenue: