Meet the Neighbour: James, Owner of Area Home + Lifestyle
As the community at Element Urban Village grows, we wanted to introduce you to some of the fantastic people now calling it home. James, owner of Area Home + Lifestyle, and his partner Nathaniel recently moved in. No stranger to Element, James worked with Element designer Crystal Bueckert to stage the show suite for Element. Welcome James!
First, now that I know you went to university to study classical piano, I would love to hear about the path that took you from there to opening your own furniture store. Can you tell me what inspired you to launch Area Home + Lifestyle?
Necessity really. We just needed to create a space for ourselves and we could not find it here. Cava had just closed and we needed serious change in our lives. We travelled to Finland to spend time in Helsinki for Design Capital of the World 2012. Here we bobbed around in the Baltic, drank Finnish Spirits, immersed ourselves in Sauna culture (fully nude!), ate Finnish food and most importantly learned about their design ethos.
They are a very very quiet people, and they never really speak unless they have something to say. Small talk is not really part of their culture, and this really shows in their design language. A serious respect and connection to nature, and only the necessary elements are used. Design is always thought out and considered at length. Amongst the places we visited; Artek and iittala were professionally some of the most important for us. Artek is the Finnish design firm established in 1935 by Alvar and his wife Aino Aalto. iittala started designing in 1881 and we were immersed in its history. Their work is celebrated to this day and we sell all their designs here at the store. Helsinki feel like home to us. It is small, accessible and people care about nature. If you drive 5 minutes out of the city you feel like you are in Northern Saskatchewan. Its very surreal. Where we live now at Element, this gives us what we really want. Access to nature, in a urban surrounding. Next we travelled to Stockholm, but maybe we can talk about that another time.
Why did you choose Element Urban Village?
We felt very connected to this home for many reasons and most importantly it is the inherently quiet design. There is only what is necessary at Element. It is void of the typical design embellishments that create unnecessary visual noise. Crystal and I speak the same language on this. Authentic woods and materials, light, functionality, closeness to green space, walkability, and a connection to urbanism. We wake up to a sunlit river view, feeling very connected to nature, humbled and very fortunate. Things that really matter.
What has surprised you most about the space since moving in?
The most surprising thing so far about Element is the natural light, and how considered the details are. I'd be remiss if I did not mention the windows, where at anytime of the day you can see a surprising amount people walking their dogs, biking, using the trails, and spending time in the park.
As the owner of a fantastic furnishing and lifestyle store, I’m curious about the pieces that made it into your home. What is your favourite and/or most unique piece of furniture that you put in your home and why do you love it?
Our main living space is filled with Bensen furniture. It is Canadian made by Niels Bendtsen and follows the ethos of comfort, form, and function. Nobody makes a better dining chair than the Danish. We had bought black Windsor style chairs by Elvind Johansson for Fredericia in Denmark a few years ago and they are a perfect fit for this space. All of our glass and tableware is Kaj Frank, Alvar Alto for iittala.
In our bedroom we bought a big king-size bed from Blu Dot (another design fave), but the show stopper is our 28.3 lighting by Ormar Arbel for Bocci. We chose a small fixture with three pendants and I love seeing it from the outside of the house, high in the air--a finishing touch on an already perfect space.