Design of the Year 2010

Gold: Market

Silver: Campagnolo
Bronze: Mis Trucos
Honourable Mention: The Diamond
Honourable Mention: Pourhouse
Honourable Mention: Keg Yaletown

A hotel restaurant is a tricky design challenge: brisk business breakfast and romantic dinner date must work in the same surroundings. The designers at Box Interior had an especially difficult brief for Market, the restaurant in the Shangri-La: the space was located in a highly modernist piece of architecture (by West Coast great James Cheng), was supported by one of Asia’s most opulent hotel brands, and had to accommodate one of the world’s revered chefs (Jean-Georges Vongerichten). What’s more, there were three separate rooms—a bistro, a bar, and a fine dining space—plus spacious patios, all of which had to facilitate the ebb and flow of up to 200 diners. There’s a subtle whiff of luxe Asia in the result, but the work never feels far from this side of the Pacific, either. Against a basically black-and-white palette, Box threaded hits of olive green to tie the rooms together, and cleverly positioned the restaurant’s bar smack in the middle of things, so that even the most sedate fine diners get warmed up en route to their table by cocktail sippers on Philippe Starck barstools. Hats off to this happy cacophony. Jean-Georges’s feng shui master (flown in from France) gave the setup his blessing. And our judges awarded it Gold. Main Street’s Campagnolo (1020 Main St., 604-484-6018. nabbed Silver. Marc Bricault’s skill as a bricoleur (basically, one who uses materials at hand) works a quirky magic while never veering into kitsch. Check out (to take one detail) the lights—bare bulbs are a bit too hip just now, but Bricault makes them shine brighter than anyone else. Campagnolo’s gutsy Main Street location conceals a little design gem. Bronze goes to Mis Trucos, (1141 Davie St., 604-566-3960. The tone of the room is not unlike the tapas on the menu: small and tasty. In essence, the place amounts to $45,000 of careful, light touches (not counting owner Kris Barnholden’s construction hours). Guests lounge in designer chairs but funky castoffs are what reign here: 1960s light fixtures burn above tables made from wood that Barnholden nabbed from an old pool hall; the bar is all century-old cedar salvaged from his childhood home. Hands-on and handsome—Vancouver needs more places like this. Shout-outs to the recession-chic touches like the antlers at The Diamond (6 Powell St. and the radiator railings at Pourhouse (162 Water St., 604-568-7022. And to the new Keg Yaletown (1011 Mainland St., 604-633-2534., for a deck so splendid you won’t know which view to settle on.