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We’re back with a new guest tastemaker for some quick-fire questions and a mini-curation of some fab Chairish finds!

This week, we got a chance to chat with Vancouver-based interior designer Gillian Segal. Gillian’s passion for design first developed when she was a young girl watching her parents build their first home. While in university pursuing a law degree, she realized that she hated all of her classes except art history and urban planning and made the switch to design school. And the rest is history. Through her firm Gillian Segal Design, she works to craft spaces that are timeless and enduring, yet still push the boundaries of design.

Find out which stand-out artwork in her parent’s house provides a full sensory experience, and what sentimental pieces of memorabilia she loves to keep around her home.

Being that the memory of your parents building their first home was so integral to your interest design, what was something important you learned from the experience?
I was pretty young at the time, but I do remember feeling impacted by the colors, textures, and even scents of the project. It was essentially a full sensory experience. My mom selected a neutral palette, which at that time was not in-vogue. It was so unique that our builder ended up hiring her to consult on future projects. I also vividly remember smelling a piece of art they purchased — yes, smelling! It was an abstract piece made of beeswax, which they still have. To this day it’s still beautiful and it still smells like honey! It taught me that design is an experience and something that can impact you day to day. 

What’s helping you get through quarantine? What are you excited to do once it ends?
Honestly, my work is helping me get through quarantine! I had a baby a year ago (right as COVID was in full swing), so the slower pace for a time and having my husband at home was honestly such a blessing. That being said, as much as I have treasured this family time, I think my work and my team have been my saving grace for sanity. I am someone who likes to be busy, so having a purpose or creative outlet during such anxious times has truly been life-saving. 

What is the coolest vintage piece in your house? What makes it the coolest?
It’s a toss-up between a Caprani lamp and a vintage marble pedestal table in my foyer from the 70’s (which I actually got on Chairish!). They both have such distinct characteristics and feel collected. There is just something about vintage pieces that can’t be replicated with new or bespoke items. Both just spoke to me when I saw them, and I knew I had to have them – I feel like vintage shopping is a love-at-first-sight kind of experience. 

Do you collect anything? What sparked your interest in collecting that item?
I collect matchboxes. I always pick up matches from restaurants I love or hotels I stay in across the world. When I look at them, I think of special memories. For example, in our home I have matchboxes from my one of my favorite local restaurants, where my husband and I got engaged and had one of our wedding events. I think of these moments every time I see the box or light a candle. 

What’s a current design trend that you hope doesn’t exist in 100 years, and why?
In general, I am tired of so many things that feel too perfect or man-made: Porcelain that mimics marble but has no variation, factory-finished brass that looks flawless, vinyl planks that look like wood… I understand why all these items have a place (I have used them in projects and even have some of them in my own home), but I am moving more and more towards working with natural products and materials, handmade items, and small-batch pieces that have a story and support a craft or a trade. It’s that small bit of imperfection that brings the magic. It’s what brings life and feeling into our home, and without these things I find spaces feel too sterile and new. 

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April 2, 2021

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