March 17, 2011
By Lydia McNutt
Pure – the eco-friendly brainchild of lead designer and manufacturer Ami McKay – can be called “pure genius.” This collection of custom furnishings artfully blends style and sustainability in one fell swoop. And it’s not the bare-bones minimal pieces you might expect from a line so heavily focused on saving the environment. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Through Pure, McKay illustrates that not only is guilt-free indulgence possible, but it’s within easy reach.
You may recognize this designer as the founder of Vancouver-based Ami McKay Design, but McKay’s name has moved beyond her native British Columbia. She has appeared as host of HGTV’s Makeover Wish, and most recently, you may have seen McKay while flipping through the pages of O At Home magazine – and we all know what happens to items that get the Oprah “stamp of approval.”
McKay’s quest for sustainability started with her refusal to choose between environmental responsibility and her innate sense of style. “Designing is integral to who I am,” she explains. “Everything I’ve done in my life has led me to where I am now, from costume design to interior design. Having the ability to creatively visualize – whether it’s a room or an object – uses the same design principles.”
McKay has been faithful to the “healthy homes” movement for years, and before the Pure endeavor, was already knee-deep in furniture design.
McKay’s transition from designing interiors to designing furniture has been, in her words, seamless. “Creating healthy, sustainable furniture is a natural progression from healthy, sustainable interiors. It is the culmination of material selection, research and vision.”
When asked why she took the eco-friendly route for her new furniture collection, McKay’s answer is simple. “It’s just who I am,” she says. “If I’m going to create something and put it out into the world, I want it to be something of substance. Healthy homes and sustainable practices are the principles I choose for myself and my family, so why would I settle for anything less for Pure?”
The sustainable path wasn’t without its obstacles. In designing furniture to satisfy the eco-conscious, health-conscious, style-conscious and comfort-conscious consumer all at the same time, McKay’s biggest hurdle, she admits, is consumer awareness of the health risks posed by conventional furniture laden with toxins.
Inspired by the Earth in more ways than one, the collection’s Fire, Water, Earth and Air lines are all custom built and can be personalized with your choice of fabric, colour and McKay’s signature embroidery.
Pure has been a labour of love for McKay. And fittingly, choosing a favourite Pure piece is almost like deciding which of your children you love best, she says. “I have Fire and Water pieces in my office. I love the fluid Water lines, and I love that I can put my embroidery on the elegant Fire pieces! Truthfully, I think there is a perfect place for every piece.”
• Pure pieces are stuffed with material made from the seed pods of rainforest-dwelling trees
• Upholstery is made from organic wool
• Rather than the traditional petrolium-based materials used to keep the spring in your sofas, Pure uses biodegradable and recyclable jute for its webbing
• The legs and frame are constructed of locally harvested wood and are finished with linseed oil
• Water-based glue and recycled staples hold it all together
• The pieces are assembled in Canada, reducing emissions and energy associated with transportation
Filed under: STYLE FILE