Steven Cox: the Cause+Affect behind Vancouver Pecha Kucha
“I wrote down 'cause and effect' on a piece of paper,” says Cox. “But 'cause and effect' is just like action and reaction – so we changed it to 'cause and affect', which is action with a purpose.” VO's newest thing: Download the interview.
S:Yeah. All those classic summer activities. Swimming, fishing, badminton, cards, etc. We chose to not have electricity on the island and only recently have implemented a fairly robust solar system. Being off grid never seemed that strange to me.
L: What is your sister's name, what is she doing?
S:Her name is Jen. She is married with two kids and living in Winnipeg. Married to Hugh McFadyen, who is the former leader of the provincial Conservative party in Manitoba. That makes for interesting family dinners (laughs).
L: Is she conservative? A member of Conservative Party?
S: I wouldn’t say that she is an overly conservative person but it's one of the things ... she kind of married into it.
L: Are your parents?
S: My parents are ultimate liberals. They live in River Heights, the only Liberal seat in Manitoba ... the liberal hotbed of Canada (laughs).
L: Did they ever run for office?
S: They were always interested, but not involved. They did do some lengthy door knocking for the Conservatives on Hugh’s behalf, however. I think that showed that family was stronger than political lines.
L: It sounds like you had an amazing family ...
S: I had a very stable home. I would call it nice, wholesome, loving. Lots of support, all those things that you take for granted.
L: In all your years of young adulthood, did you have a moment of awakening?
S: No, not really. I lived in a pretty good bubble, even going through my Masters of Architecture, there was a little feeling of just going through the motions. I don’t think there was a particular moment in my life; it was more like one big slow evolution.
My awakening really started, I think, when Jane, who is my partner in life and business, came into my life.
L: When did you meet?
S: We met when I was in my second year in university. She was in her first year. It was kind of a classic thing. She was in the interior design program, which every year usually has about 30 new women and two guys and both guys are usually gay.
I shouldn’t admit it, but there's a hotbed of cute girls coming into the faculty and as a guy, there's always this kind of checking out that goes on. Jane happened to be one of those girls.
L: Once she came along, what happened? The evolution in your life ...
S: In many ways, we became a team very early on, so we were 21, 22. I am 38 now. As a team, life is just easier. Making decisions is easier, as someone else always has your back.
L: So lucky.
S: After we completed our degrees, we had that classic decision to make. Which city: New York, San Francisco, Chicago, London. We knew one person in London, an Aussie girl that Jane worked with in Vancouver. And at that time, London was kind of booming. The dot.com stuff had started to come to Europe and there was a lot of money there. This was 1998.
So we moved to London, we spent our first year in that typical horrible basement flat with mould on the walls. It was a couple of blocks from Arsenal football grounds in North Islington and it was great. The plan was to stay for a year, and we ended up staying for five. We moved out of that basement flat and ended up sharing a two-bedroom flat with another couple for four years. Imagine, two couples, one bathroom, four years.
This was kind of where the evolution started, because we both kind of moved away from what our education told us to be doing.
Jane was supposed to be an interior designer, which was what she started with. She worked for a big interior design firm called Gensler, a big American firm. It went from being in a firm of 80 when she started to like 300 in a couple of years. Big corporate headquarters and great parties and all that kind of stuff.
I started working for a Canadian architect living in London, named Alison Brooks. I mainly did work on a house in Hampstead Heath.
And we both stayed in these jobs for like two years, and then we both moved. Jane moved out of interior design into a more strategic and marketing role in a small agency and I moved to a design firm called Softroom. We were doing more interior branding stuff. Like restaurants, museums, hotels, retail environments.