«We tend to not buy into trends and try to stay true to a larger aesthetic arc». Inform Interiors employee Meriah Schultz Olson
Inform Interiors in Vancouver
The simplicity and functionality of Scandinavian design is a hallmark of the Inform Interiors showroom. But don’t let their Danish backbone stir a sense of limitation. This expansive thirty-thousand square-foot showroom plays host to designers from every corner of Europe, Canada, Africa, as well as South America. «We tend to not buy into trends», says Inform Interiors employee Meriah Schultz Olson, «and try to stay true to a larger aesthetic arc». Though the company certainly has a «soft spot for many Nordic brands», a piece’s origin is neither here nor there, and what earns it its prized showroom floor space is its design and aesthetic.
The company was and largely remains to this day the brainchild of Niels Bendtsen. It launched in 1963 under the original name of Danet Interiors. The designer took a brief hiatus from the store to further his design education back in Denmark. He returned in the 1980s to regain control of Danet and rebrand as Inform Interiors. New York City’s Museum of Modern Art also hosts his 1975 design the Ribbon Chair.
To this day, «Niels is like a guiding compass for the whole company», says Olson. His own line, Bensen, can be found for sale at Inform Interiors and while he is highly involved on the financial end of the operation, «it’s Nancy Bendtsen [his wife] who is the leader of Inform on a daily basis». While performing managerial type duties, Bendtsen is also a key figure in the curation process at Inform.
The Inform Interiors experience
According to Olson, «there are no formal guidelines as to what we should buy, or how we should buy it, but we try to balance the frenzy of the fairs with how we want the showroom in Vancouver to look and feel». The showroom itself stands at 50 Water Street in the historic Gastown district of Vancouver. A heritage façade rebuilt from the ground up houses it. In stark juxtaposition with the cobblestone streets outside, inside the multi-story showroom is sleek and modern with a sharpness Olson attributes to the «stairwell that slices through the midsection of the building», providing natural lighting throughout.
Lighting and air are integral parts of the Inform Interiors experience. The latter is owed to their unique geothermal heating and air system. The system has won awards for both its sustainability as well as its achievement in design. Bendtsen himself brought it to life, together with Omer Arbel, Creative Director of Bocci and OAO Architecture. It functions essentially by use of pipes drilled about one-hundred feet or so below ground. They utilize the temperature of the earth’s core. Their aim is either to generate heat in the winter or cool air in the summer. In this way, they keep the showroom consistently ventilated and comfortable for its employees and customers alike.
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If there happens to be an itch the Inform Interiors showroom can’t scratch, the company has branched out to include two additional arms, Inform Projects and Inform Contract. Inform Projects, overseen by Harvey Reehal, primarily supplies high-end kitchen and bath installations to large scale projects.
One example is the Vancouver House. A fifty-nine story tower set for completion this year that will provide the city with «three-hundred-and-seventy-five residential homes, one-hundred-and-six rental homes, as well as new retail, workspace and amenity space», according to the project’s website. Where Inform Projects leaves off, Inform Contract picks up to provide contract projects with furnishing and lighting. Run by Paul Sjaarda and Robyn York, Inform Contract notably furnished the Central Library in Calgary, Canada. A re-allocation of marketing funds from print media to in-house events «has been successful at bringing a lot of new people from the community through our doors, while providing free, educational events for anyone who is interested», says Olson.
Inform Interiors aims to get the community excited about design through a bevy of workshops, book launches, and panels. Speakers range from big hitters in the community, such as Mario Bellini and Tom Dixon to local designers alike.
50 Water St, Vancouver, BC V6B 1A4, Canada
Inform Interiors features the latest in contemporary furniture, lighting, accessories, and design books. Launched in Vancouver in 1963, it is considered one of the top five design stores in the world. Inform Interiors is not only a go-to place for the best in contemporary home furnishings. But, it is also a cultural hub for all things related to design and architecture.