Made in Vancouver Awards 2020: Meet Our Home Category Judge

Interior designer and industrial design pro Ben Leavitt, creative director of PlaidFox Studio, is this year's Home judge.

The design scene has changed a lot since PlaidFox Studio creative director Ben Leavitt graduated from Emily Carr University (“nearly one hundred years ago,” he jokes). Today, maker culture leads the way, and it’s collaboration, not competition, fuelling the city’s coolest projects. “I love when makers and designers work together to create something bold and unique,” says Leavitt.

Through his work with his design studio, Leavitt has shown us time and time again that he has an eye for style and a deep appreciation for the eclectic—just check out how he decked out his own Gastown home: everything from terracotta warriors to African masks to dramatic photographic wallpaper gets equal consideration in Leavitt’s world. It’s this sort of wide-ranging design palette (plus his years of experience as a product designer in Asia) that convinced us he was exactly right person to judge the Home category for this year’s Made in Vancouver Awards. “I feel like Vancouver has a lot of young talent who are constantly reinventing the way traditional west coast elements are being used,” says Leavitt. “Just as the city is a melting pot of differing cultures and ideas, I feel like our design scene is just as varied.” Anything from throw pillows to furniture to artful lighting could come his way during our second annual competition, and we know he’ll be up for the challenge. 

As we count down to the submission deadline, we asked our discerning Home judge to share some of his favourite spots in the city. 

Your go-to cocktail

I have never said no to a spicy jalapeño margarita. Or, the Avocado Gimlet from L’Abattoir is a thing of dreams. 

Favourite run at Whistler

I’m more of toboggan-and-snow-angel type of Whistler patron.

Perfect Vancouver spot

Lynn Canyon is one of my favourite spots in Vancouver. Every time I go, I’m reminded of how stunning west coast forests are.

Best place for a drink on a Tuesday night

Guilt and Co. in Gastown makes Tuesday feel like Friday with inventive cocktails and live music every night of the week. 

Vancouverite you most want to meet

Artist and author Douglas Coupland. His solo exhibition “Everywhere is Anywhere is Anything is Everything” at the Vancouver Art Gallery is still one of my all time favourite shows! 

Best Neighbourhood in the city

I have loved Gastown since I was a kid and have made it my home for the last seven years.

Best restaurant in the city

There are so many… but I love eating more than anything and my favourite place to carb-load is Autostrada Osteria on Pender Street. It’s possibly the most cozy place to gossip in the city.

Best thing you ate this year

A vegetarian taco from Molino El Pujol in Mexico city. Once you’ve had one, you will need a dozen more. 

A hidden gem more Vancouverites should know about 

While the term “gem” is very subjective, I love the Bamboo Village in ChinaTown. It may not be fancy but the upper floor is laden with so many ‘hidden gem’ antiques and curiosities. It’s a perfect place to wander while drinking a weekend coffee. 

What’s a perfect treat-yourself day?

Revolver coffee, massage, sushi, ice cream, repeat. 

Perfect hangover food

Everything on Tacofino’s menu, starting of course with the nachos. Don’t count the calories and you’ll be just fine. 

Perfect big night out on the town

I am too old for a big night out!! However, I am loving Dance House and all the amazing artists they bring to the city. It is a must-do and is perfect when followed by a blue fig martini at the nearby Chambar Restaurant.

Where do you go hunting for your favourite skincare products?

I only use hot water. I got it from my mama 

Which spa treatment is on your birthday wishlist?

Can I have shoes instead?

Ready to show Ben what you’ve got? Submit your locally made product to the Made in Vancouver Awards by March 13!