With design, we often start the conversation around the decor details that we can touch and interchange.

However, the true beginning of any successful design is the structure and bones of the space, the visions of the creative minds of architects, who have created some of the most stunning spaces in the city.

This week we are shining the spotlight on some of Vancouver’s top architecture and design firms; often out of the public eye, yet responsible for so much of our city’s stunning urban landscape, these four design “dream teams” are creating work that is beautifully impacting the aesthetic of Vancouver.

Evoke International Design

Since 2000, Evoke’s interdisciplinary approach to design has made it one of the most sought-after firms in the city.

The company, founded by Robert Edmonds and David Nicolay, brings perspective from a multitude of design principles to its work and offers not only house design expertise, but also spatial, interior and graphic design. It is the marriage of these elements that gives their clients an encapsulating experience.

Outside of an impressive client roster for design that includes Pixar, the Kit + Ace North American offices and stores, Bel Cafe at the Hotel Georgia and Heirloom restaurant, Evoke is also responsible for conceiving and opening some of our city’s best neighbourhood haunts, like El Camino’s (my personal fave), The Union Bar Restaurant and Main Street Brewing, to name a few.

The signature style of Evoke remains clean: modern interiors and custom-designed furniture combined with simple, vibrant graphics.

“We approach design from a collaborative point of view and align ourselves with clients that share our modern aesthetic values and creative process,” the team says. “The resulting project should be a well integrated design that doesn’t rely on overly trendy concepts: It is about composition and the combination of form, function and innovation to achieve the client-unique design objective.”

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Evoke specializes in modern interiors and custom-designed furniture. – Contributed

Scott & Scott

The husband-and-wife duo behind the Scott & Scott architecture and design firm run their practice out of perhaps one of the most recognizable studios in the city, and by far one of my favourite spaces to pass by.

David and Susan Scott reinvented their home – a former old grocery store just off Main Street – to accommodate a street-level studio for its firm to operate. The ingenious redesign includes a workshop for the completion of industrial design, prototyping and material research.

With a notable history with various prominent Canadian firms, the couple branched out on their own in 2012 and have since become an award-winning boutique firm. In 2014 they were awarded an Architizer A+ award for the design and construction of their Alpine Cabin project; in 2016 they were both awarded The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Young Architect Awardand the Restaurant and Design Award for Best Americas Restaurant for Torafuku; and in spring 2017 they were selected to present their work as a recipient of the Architectural League of New York’s Emerging Voices Award.

Their breadth of work – which includes commercial, mixed use, restaurants, residential spaces in both urban and remote environments and also agricultural projects – has been widely recognized by worldwide design publications, including recent releases from renowned publishers TaschenGestalten and Phaidon. 

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In 2014, Scott and Scott were awarded an Architizer A+ award for the design and construction of their Alpine Cabin project. – Contributed
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Their breadth of work includes commercial, mixed use, restaurants, residential spaces in both urban and remote environments, as well as agricultural projects. – Contributed

McKinley Burkart

This Calgary-based boutique architecture and design firm recently opened

an impressive new office in Vancouver. McKinley Burkart has established itself as an industry leader, with a self-professed “passion for contextual architecture, visionary design and immersive brand strategy.”

The move into Vancouver was a natural progression for the company, as both founding partners Walker McKinley and Mark Burkart have ties to our city and their client roster is well-rooted in here. It includes many of Vancouver’s big names, such as Aritzia, Stanley Park and the team behind Herschel Supply Co.

“Our vision for the Vancouver studio was to create a space that not only spoke to the McKinley Burkart identity but also embraced the essence of West Coast design, such as abstractions of coastal driftwood and metaphoric elements of the sea and coastline. Maintaining the history of the building was also key for us,” said Burkart.

The firm supported its interest in making the new Vancouver office an integral part of the city’s creative community by including artwork from notable local artists such as Ben Skinnerand Anthony Redpath.

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McKinley Burkart has worked with local names like Aritzia, Stanley Park Brewing and the team behind Herschel Supply Co. – Contributed
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The Calgary-based boutique architecture and design firm recently opened an impressive new office in Vancouver. – Contributed

Marianne Amodio Architecture Studio

Spearheaded by the vibrant and effervescent architect, Marianne Amodio, this boutique firm plants itself comfortably in the realm between structure and playful creativity.

Known for innovative designs, MAAStudio is pushing the boundaries of how we approach dwelling spaces and (co)habitation in Vancouver. With a unique perspective on multi-resident spaces, the firm’s residential design centres on multi-family residential buildings, micro co-housing and custom multi-family homes.

“Architecture isn’t just for the elite,” says Amodio. “It can live in the mid-range zone.” Looking to that concept, MAAStudio is forward thinking with its fundamental principles: the belief that modern design should speak to more than just aesthetic, but also to the social, environmental and affordability issues facing our community.

Marianne has been described by a client as possessing the ability to “magically transform ordinary spaces and humble materials into places of poetic beauty.” 

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Marianne Amodio’s studio offers a unique perspective on multi-resident spaces. – Contributed
GuidedBy is a community builder and part of the Glacier Media news network. This article originally appeared on a Glacier Media publication.