Random Desires: Our curated list of local finds

Random Desires: Our curated list of local finds

Our curated list of local finds inspired by a yearning for warmth and beauty 

Tapered candles from the Wax Studio (photograph by Marianne Rothbauer); a new approach to architectural photography (photograph by Nanne Springer)

Wax Poetic
Launched in 2016 when Anna Chandler Merlo was just nine, the Wax Studio has been a huge success since the get-go. Her candles are now stocked in local stores, and she boasts a busy online shop. Chandler Merlo’s latest design is a sophisticated narrow taper that caters to fans of midcentury modern design whose vintage candle holders are too narrow for traditional candles. The sleek pure beeswax tapers are currently available in a variety of striking colours, including black, burgundy, and forest green.

On the Move
Architectural photography can often feel stark, even impersonal — the rooms perfectly staged and devoid of a human presence. That’s why the most recent project photographs by Shean Architects are so refreshing. Principal Rick Shean has spearheaded a cool collaboration with architectural and landscape photographer Nanne Springer and choreographer and dancer Malina Fürhoff to imbue the firm’s latest designs with whimsy and movement. The resulting images are unexpected and fanciful, the movement of the dancer drawing the eye to the beauty of the structures around her.

A pretty handmade mug by Vanessa Villareal; Pollen Nation makes unique floral creations (photo by Katherine McCloskey)

Pot of Gold
A potter can never make enough mugs. And Vanessa Villarreal’s ceramic pieces are especially perfect for these uncertain times. “I want my cups to hold a bit of whimsy, magic, and warmth besides the tea or coffee that fills them,” she explains, adding that her hope is for each owner to daydream as they sip from one of her mugs. Villarreal, who has a small kiln and studio in her Gatineau basement, adds just a hint of gold to most pieces, a personal signature that imbues each design with a touch of preciousness and delicacy. She sells mainly through her website, with a small selection available at the Ottawa Art Gallery Shop.

Picture Perfect
Katherine McCloskey’s dreamy photos look for all the world like still-life paintings from the Dutch Age — colour-saturated studies of intricate flower arrangements on a rich black background. The owner of Pollen Nation Floral Studio preserves many of her fresh and dried arrangements through photography. The florist brings an eco-friendly approach to the business, sourcing unique vases on Facebook Marketplace and at thrift stores, and buying flowers from floral farms in the area during the growing months.

Kate Golding’s pie-inspired wallpaper (photo by Johnny C. Lam); Anne Dahl’s Canyon ring

Cutie Pie
It’s the most delicious wallpaper ever! Surface pattern designer Kate Golding worked with Prince Edward County pie baker extraordinaire Jessica Bastow to design this one-of-a-kind feature wall for her bakery, My Pies. Take a close look to spot the full pie lineup — apple pie, blueberry pie, rhubarb tart, pumpkin pie, lemon tart, pecan pie, blueberry tart, meat pie, and lemon meringue pie. Though best known for her nature-themed wallpaper collections, Golding also offers custom design for businesses and residential clients looking to add a bespoke element to a room.

Ahead of the Curve
Metalsmith Anne Dahl calls her works “movements in metal” that push the very boundaries of what metal can look like. The Canyon Ring, inspired by Horseshoe Canyon just outside Drumheller, Alberta, plays with the ideas of empty spaces and sculptural curves, a vast geographic feature synthesized into a perfect piece of wearable art. Available in sterling silver, the Canyon Ring can also be custom ordered in any karat or colour of gold. A selection of Dahl’s pieces can be found at Victoire Boutique, Magpie, and the Ottawa Art Gallery Shop or through Dahl’s website.

One of Allie Aitken’s bold botanical prints (photo by Matt Garies); the soothing splendor of a walk-in shower is epitomized in this model ensuite by West of Main

Beautiful Botanicals
“I suspect it’s because they don’t need watering” is Allie Aitken’s tongue-in-cheek answer to the question of why her botanical prints are among her top-selling designs. We beg to differ. Aitken’s black-and-white linocut prints of monstera and palm leaves make a bold statement, but there’s also something cozy about these familiar leaves that makes us think of sunlight streaming through windows and warmer days to come. Aitken sells her 11-by-14-inch prints through her website and at local craft fairs.

Warm Welcome
Designed by West of Main for Glenview Homes, this ensuite shower, with its organic colour palette and dual shower head, gives off a boutique hotel vibe. The at-home spa is all local, with the furniture sourced from the West of Main Shoppe, the large-scale wall tiles from Olympia Tile, and the rich marble floor tiles from Euro Tile and Stone.