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Q&A with Shaun Moore and Julie Nicholson: the design duo talk about their new show, Made at Home

Shaun Moore and Julie Nicholson (Image: Stefania Yarhi)

Shaun Moore and Julie Nicholson’s annual show Radiant Dark has always been one of our can’t-miss exhibits of design month. This year, they switched gears with a new concept and new name: Made at Home. Even the location is new, with the designers taking over the apartment above their Made Boutique on Dundas West. The pair have set up a livable exhibit featuring products commissioned from their favourite designers. We sat down with Moore and Nicholson in their showroom to talk about design month, Radiant Dark and how Made at Home fits into both.

Why the change from Radiant Dark to Made at Home?
Shaun Moore:
The Radiant Dark series was about the spirit of being in very different venues. They were themed shows, where we provided a theme to designers and they made work to that theme. This year, it’s about home and comfort. When we got the space upstairs, it really changed the spirit and the feeling of what the show would be. It made it more intimate than the huge spaces we’d previously worked in.

The idea is that the pieces live within the confines of a home. How many works will be in the space?
Oddly enough, there is pretty much the same number of works as at the last two Radiant Dark shows; it’s just all in this really compressed space instead. It doesn’t have the grand scale of the others, but it’s still an offbeat space.

Was every piece commissioned for this space specifically?
We really worked with the designers. The focus was on things that you would live with. There are still pieces that have a sculptural format, but there’s still that idea that this is a piece you would have in your home. The only piece that isn’t entirely new is from the Brothers Dressler, the bottle lights, but in a new way that’s never been seen. So they are using vintage coke bottles.

What was the direction that you gave each designer?
Julie Nicholson:
To address the functionality of objects you use in your home. It was pretty organic. People chose different things that fit in the space. Someone said, “I want to make a sofa”; one had a dining table. It fell together very easily for us.
We had to be more direct about the kind of objects that would fit into the space. There were people that we really like working with, but we couldn’t ask them to the show this year.

Are there existing elements incorporated from the apartment with the Made at Home pieces?
The fridge is the landlord’s, and the appliances, too. It’s a very bare-bones kind of apartment, and we didn’t want to falsify that. It’s exactly what you’d expect from a rental on Dundas.

How does the space figure into the exhibit?
There is a slightly voyeuristic feeling as people walk through the space—like they could be in somebody’s private space.

Everyone loves to see how someone else lives, walk through a stranger’s apartment.
I think this kind of design show people have a curiosity for anyways, so it’s just taking it a little notch further. They become more curious about the nature of the person who might live there. They may or may not know that it’s a rented space; they may assume that someone is living there. The stories people have in their heads that enrich the truth.
It’s an exploratory thing, too. The idea of exploring a place that would otherwise be off limits; you get this little bit of the unknown.
It’s like a house viewing when you have no intention of buying.

Will every piece be for sale, or ready for production after the show?
Most everything will be for sale. There are a couple things that are prototypes that people didn’t want to sell yet. But pretty much everything will be a sellable item.

Made at Home. Jan. 27–Feb. 12; public reception Jan. 29, 3–8 p.m.
Upstairs at Made, 867 Dundas St. W., 416-607-6384,