In Conversation with Victoria McKenney

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image  Victoria McKenney

 

As seen in SNAP, March 2010.

 

Victoria McKenney is the Principal and Founder of Enviable Designs, an interior design firm based out of Vancouver that specializes in creating warm and inviting residential spaces. Her tagline “comfortable sophistication” says it all.

 

Victoria has always had a passion for art, she holds a Bachelors Degree in Art History from UBC as well as interior design training; she also continually travels through Western Europe for inspiration. In addition, Victoria is a member of several design associations including CDECA, NKBA, and the Inter-Society Color Council of New York and has been featured in the Style At Home blog and the recent book, Spectacular Homes of Western Canada. She has also had the distinction of receiving design honours such as the 2009 Professional Design Award competition by the Canadian national CDECA Association in the category of “Best Interior Under $25,000” for a master bedroom re-design in Kitsilano. Victoria was the only British Columbian designer who won first place this year.

 

I had the pleasure of meeting Victoria over a year ago when we were invited to the evening with Barbara Barry and I am now working with Victoria on revamping her graphic image and business cards. Once I was able to look through her portfolio and got the chance to know her warm and friendly personality I thought she would be a great interview to have on our blog.

 

Please read on to learn more about this local talent.

 

Iván Meade - What was your first experience with design?

 

Victoria McKenney - When I was little, my father had a large collection of yachting magazines. I used to pore over his collection, paying particular attention to the floor plans and imagining the interiors of the boats. I didn’t even know why I liked looking at the plans, there was just something about the line drawings that I found so engaging.

 

imageInteriors by Enviable Designs

 

Iván Meade - Who has influenced your style?

 

Victoria McKenney - Barbara Barry first and foremost – her classic, clean style has a way of making spaces timeless. I always feel that if a well-designed space doesn’t date easily, that is the mark of true success. I’ve aspired to avoid using trendy objects or materials for exactly this reason; to keep my designed spaces fresh for longer periods of time. I also like Candace Olsen because she’s quite well rounded as a designer, she’s not just a personality that’s been branded as a designer which is so common these days given the popularity of reality tv. Candace can do everything from AutoCAD to design boards to furniture design. I find her style has a warmer feel and frequently extends vertically throughout a space, using every available area to add something to the overall design.

 

image Interiors by Enviable Designs

 

Iván Meade - How would you describe your style?

 

Victoria McKenney - Classic and comfortable - soft and sophisticated. I try to stay away from the “it trends” or the next big thing; ideally singling out materials that contribute to a space’s timelessness. I like to think of my style as gender-neutral but obviously as a young female designer I do tend to accessorize with softer more organic items.

 

image Interiors by Enviable Designs

 

Iván Meade - What do you consider to be your greatest strength as a designer?

 

Victoria McKenney - I’d say my greatest strength is the ability to compile a client’s goals and visions and translate them into an efficient, comprehensive design concept.

 

image Interiors by Enviable Designs

 

Iván Meade - You mention that you enjoy repeatedly exploring Western Europe, what inspires you most about these travels and how do you interpret this in your designs?

 

Victoria McKenney - I’m influenced strongly by my surroundings; whether I’m in Rome or Vancouver Island. I’m always picking up little things here and there. After returning from an Italy trip years ago my style was quite obviously affected; the materials and age of the Mediterranean décor inspired me to use more natural stones and character rich materials to give spaces an aged, impressive ambience.

 

image Interiors by Enviable Designs

 

Iván Meade - How/why did you start your own firm? Could you tell me a little about the history of your company?

 

Victoria McKenney - I grew up under the guidance of my father’s entrepreneurial spirit and I saw the benefits of it from an early age. I wanted that flexibility and control for myself as I just couldn’t see working for a someone else’s design company; the way so many designers start out. I wanted to work for myself and with the freedom to choose my own projects and design direction. It was an ambitious entrance into the design sector but I feel it was the only way I could personally work and develop my trade.

 

image Interiors by Enviable Designs

 

Iván Meade - We recently worked together on revamping your graphic identity; how important is your graphic identity to your business’ success in Vancouver?

 

Victoria McKenney - Until recently we didn’t have a single graphic mark or definite logo for the company. All of our promotional materials, etc were based simply on the company name and my name so we felt it was time to equate the company with an easily recognizable mark, a stamp of excellence of sorts. The new brand is the summary of all of our goals for the company and we’re very proud of how its all come together. With regards to company success I feel that the new graphic identity will dramatically increase the Vancouver publics awareness of our brand.

 

Enviable-Design-Logo

 

Iván Meade - Do you consider being young in the business as advantage or disadvantage?

 

Victoria McKenney - Both. Sometimes clients assume that I am inexperienced because of my age although with 6 years of designing interiors, I feel well versed in my trade. I still learn something on every project I work on and hope that to be the case forever. Being young also means, however, that I’m armed with fresh new ideas and positive energy. I gave a design lecture at a the University Women’s Club in Vancouver years ago and the women there were stunned at my age, yet clients frequently remark on my maturity and professionalism. I see both sides on every single contact.

 

imageInteriors by Enviable Designs

 

Iván Meade - What was it like to be published in “Spectacular Homes of Western Canada”?

 

Victoria McKenney - Fulfilling. It was a wonderful new direction for me, to see my work published in a book format, even though I’d been poring over those project photos for months and that specific project for more than a year. But when the book was published it made that project feel so much more real and rewarding – it was also excellent closure for my largest project to date.

 

imageInteriors by Enviable Designs

 

Iván Meade - Last year we both had the opportunity to attend a dinner in honour of Barbara Barry. What was your impression of the event?

 

Victoria McKenney - It was great to meet in person such a design icon, and specifically MY design icon. What I found amazing about her was that her personal style was a complete reflection of her design style (or vice versa?). She IS classic. Also I was pleasantly surprised at her explanations for the new fabric and wallpaper lines and how they were inspired and influenced from a recent trip to Japan, but also from the colors and patterns of the Pacific Northwest, from where she spends significant amounts of time.

 

imageInteriors by Enviable Designs

 

Iván Meade - What are you excited about right now in the world of design?

 

Victoria McKenney - I’m excited that eco design is becoming more accessible. Not only are there more products on the market to choose from but that the cost is no longer as prohibitive as it once was. Within the next 5 years, I think most design elements will have green alternatives and I hope to capitalize on this with my designs.

 

image Interiors by Enviable Designs

 

Iván Meade - What project gave you the most satisfaction?

 

Victoria McKenney - A large new-build waterfront home in Whiterock, BC. I was involved from the time the foundation was poured so to see it finished nearly two years later was a major achievement. The project had complicated design schemes and I was thoroughly entrenched in every element of the design. It was a significant challenge and an even bigger reward upon completion.

 

imageInteriors by Enviable Designs

 

Iván Meade - What would your dream project be?

 

Victoria McKenney - I would love to work on a new build vacation home on the sunshine coast. I recently visited Tofino and was inspired by the ocean and dramatic coastal landscapes. I’ve never worked with west coast contemporary architecture and I think the challenge would be thrilling.

 

imageInteriors by Enviable Designs

 

Iván Meade - What is your next design venture?

 

Victoria McKenney - I am currently putting together a team of designers and CAD experts so that Enviable Designs can take on larger scoped projects. I love the challenges of problem solving that new builds and renovations naturally produce and hope to concentrate on these types of projects.. Down the road, my dream would be to design a boutique hotel in Vancouver.

 

image Interiors by Enviable Designs

 

Iván Meade - Lastly, you have already created a stunning body of work in your signature style. What would you like your legacy to be?

Victoria McKenney - I would like to be known for not only my strong design sense but my highly, individualized personal approach to each project. I take great pride in every design job I work on and hope that my positive and gracious nature I strive for in every job will be my legacy.

 

I invite you to visit Victoria’s website at:

 

Enviable-Design-Logo

and support her blog at:

 

image

 

Ivan Meade is a local designer and principal of Meade Design Group, a multidisciplinary interior and graphic design studio in the heart of downtown Victoria – www.themeadegroup.com

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