Alexis Naylor of Montreal-based Atelier Général on clients who appreciate experimentation and elements that make spaces enjoyable.
How do you get your clients to appreciate the knowledge that you gain from experimentation?
Yes, people are open to experimentation, because they desire unique spaces that speak to them. This can only be achieved through experimentation. Our clients are typically aware that we are a creative firm with an experimental focus. That’s what they want and that’s what we put out there to advertise our firm. For residential clients, we find it more effective to take on clients who are appreciative of creativity than to look for traditional clients.
In your opinion, why is the relationship between space and light so important?
Light enhances objects, built-in furniture and the overall spaces we design. In the majority of our residential renovation projects that we work on, the first initiatives we take is to make the space more open and to increase the fenestration. Then the light enhances the contrasts between the tones and the textures of the material. The refined design and organization increase the value of open space and the beauty of the light therein. We experiment with the effect of light filling space by using luminous objects similar to wall sconces that we can integrate into our projects.
What makes a stair enjoyable? Give two projects as an example.
Beyond the technical aspects tied to the ergonomics of a good stair, you must place an emphasis on its central and often massive presence. A stair must be enjoyable to use, offer more than circulation and it must participate in the coherence of the space that it occupies. It can present itself as a beautiful distinct part of a building or as an integral part of the wall construction. The important thing for us is that it offers something more: an architectural experience.
What space did you enjoy the most when you grew up? Can you recall the experience?
When I was a child I would dig tunnels in immense snow banks that would progressively grow as snow blowers would pile more snow. I could excavate a network of tunnels and rooms. I adored the comfort of those sunken spaces, with their diffused light and acoustical envelope…until the snow blower returned and my mother came outside screaming.