Best Design 2008

Our gold medallist, Boneta, opens onto an edgy stretch of Cordova Street. It embraces the whiffy but eclectic mix of the Downtown Eastside, eschewing the easy heritage trap of nouveau Gastown. Built for less than $100,000 on a one-year lease, it boasts spectacular art and an East Village-like buzz that let us forgive the Home Depot light fixtures (if not the shabby repo chairs). Eastside arty collage, yes, but hardly down-market.

A hundred grand wouldn’t buy the carpet at our silver medallist, Yew. Its design, which feels at home in travertine-heavy Four Seasons, is invigorated by the natural tones of the Pacific Northwest, the Brent Comber pieces, and the crisp glassiness and stainless steel that also define our cityscape. The big room enjoys nice eddies of space to hang out in. And hotel restaurants are tough: the jet-lagged solo business traveller rubs shoulders with the dining family, but Yew makes it work. Take your hot date-or take Mom and Dad.

Bronze goes to a Main Street neighbourhood room, Cascade. The bones of the room and façade were there, and properly left. It caters to the SoMa hipster, but also speaks to an older Main Street with a clever nod to the Legion and Olde British Pub.

Shore Club (Honourable Mention) dazzles with an amazing level of careful detailing. It’s double-breasted, macho-but-comfy flavour feels timeless. Sadly, though, its embrace of Granville Street is tentative. Kitty-corner, Holt Renfrew gets it right with a great glass corner. Sure, the grey-haired-and-pinstriped carnivore doesn’t want the spouse shopping at HR to catch him with his “niece,” but what’s with the blocked door on Vancouver’s oldest meet street? The new Granville deserves better.