RANDOM DESIRES: What we love, where to find it, and sometimes why

By Derriere Les Bois

Originally published in Interiors 2015 issue of Ottawa Magazine

James Bartleman Archives and Library Materials Centre. Photo: Doublespace Photography

Written History
Excerpts from the diary of John Burrows, a surveyor who worked on the Rideau Canal in the summer of 1827, are immortalized on glass surfaces throughout the city archives, a.k.a. the James Bartleman Archives and Library Materials Centre. It’s a fitting way to observe the power of words in a building built to protect our city’s history. A sample line: “The Entrance into the lake is indescribably beautiful, its surface as smooth as a Mirror, the banks delightfully dispersed with opening buds of spring reflected on the surface of the river.” Gets one thinking about how private reflections might be incorporated into a personal dwelling.

Maple Set knives by The Federal









Cutting-Edge Kitchenware
Every chef knows the importance of a good knife. It’s even better if this utilitarian tool doubles as a work of art. Ian Murchison and Rohan Thakar, co-founders of industrial design firm The Federal Inc., have combined functionality and good looks in Maple Set, which sees the slender cutting steel edge paired with the warmth of maple wood. Prototypes were overwhelmingly well received, and the designers are optimistic that their knives will hit store shelves soon.

Plywood shelving units designed by architect John Donkin. Photo: Urszula Muntean Photography


Plywood shelving units designed by architect John Donkin. Photo: Urszula Muntean Photography

Stylin’ Plywood
Getting from floor to floor becomes an artistic adventure courtesy of these cleverly designed plywood shelving units by architect John Donkin. The material may not be fancy, but these bookshelves and display shelves are truly beautiful — functional art capable of storing both keepsakes and all those magazines you just can’t bear to part with.

Artwork by Rafael Lazano-Hemmer at Canada Council Art Bank. Photo: Remi Theriault

Interactive Art
Now that’s lobby art! Known as Performance Court, the new office building at 150 Elgin St. boasts the Canada Council Art Bank as one of its major tenants. With that being the case, the massive screen in the lobby is regularly used to showcase various video installations. The first, by artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, shocked passersby when their eyes begin to “smoke” if they stared at the screen long enough. Stop in to see what’s there now — and for a visit to the adjoining ground-floor art gallery, which exhibits selections from the 17,000 contemporary works owned by the art bank.

By Derriere Les Bois


Scrap Art
Some verge on the kitsch; some are crazy-cool. We love the idea that wood hobbyist cousins Stephen Washer and Marco Facciola of Derrière Les Bois are recycling their scraps into fun animal and landscape silhouettes that would look totally at home in a kid’s room (the bunny) or a cottage (the bear). The reclaimed wood has an evocative patina, the various hues, grains, and shades of paint coming together in a cohesive whole.