The door opens, and I look around over the shoulders of the two standing in front of me. My thought: “Who are these two models!” (No really, that was my thought – one has the look of a very famous French actor and the other with red flaming hair and alabaster skin) and where is my appointment, did my assistant mix up the schedule. With a perfect poker face, I welcome the Star and the Goddess into the studio.

The gentle man is dapper, in a perfectly fitted blazer, tie and flat front straight leg pants, and she, in a pour-on-me grey with distressed tie-die(esque), long dress and the pinkest of pink shoes. “Hi I’m Martina and this is my colleague Yves.” The smile did not leave my face for the next two hours. The name behind some of Montreal’s most beautiful homes and the reason that Montreal is “Design City of the World”, is definitely due in part to the efforts of this collaboration

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INTERVIEW W/ MARTINA PRIBYSLAVSKA

KA- What was the catalyst, that made you (both) go into the field of design?
MP- Several factors played a role. Growing up in Europe, I’ve been exposed to many different architectural styles from early gothic to post modernism and functionalism. One could say architecture was a part of everyday life, since even our school building, train station and shopping center belonged to a protected part of the Czech national heritage. Art and its many divisions were also deeply rooted in my family, where practically every member on both my mother’s and father’s side, enjoyed a particular field; ranging from music, through acting to sculpting and painting; some on a professional level, and others simply as a hobby. Later, during my studies, I discovered personal strengths in the technical aspects of the field. I enjoyed complex planning, three-dimensional tasks, such as staircase design, and other components, which require deep technical fabrica- tion and special analysis. I believe this combination of artistic heritage, with the dedication to the technical aspect, created a perfect soup for a field such as interior architecture and design. In retrospect, I can’t really imagine any other result!

KA- Creating homes where a person spends the most of their time, is such a personal thing to do. How do you separate from this very personal aspect and allow your creativity to reflect the clients’ wishes?

MP- Our design team shares a, “to each their own” philosophy. We believe a home should reflect its owner. Everyone has a dream, and everyone deserves to have that dream come true. In the world of most designers implying a cookie-cutter approach to their work, I believe our clients appreciate the idea of creating a perfect home no matter what the style might be. With our help and professional guidance, their dream can become reality.

KA- Can there truly be such a thing as good taste and bad taste in the context of home design, since taste is so subjective?

MP- Taste is indeed very subjective. As described above, in resi- dential design this becomes a very personal issue, sometimes even motivated by emotional factors. The artwork which used to hang on the walls of my home as a child, the armoire given to me as an inheritance from my grandmother – those sorts of emotional attachments to certain objects, make us observe them in a light which others do not see. I believe this connection makes us human, and there should be no reason to disregard the feelings some objects evoke.

KA- Does the smart home exist?
MP- Each home is as smart as its owner. This is by far not meant as an insult to their intelligence level; this means everyone should decide what’s best for them, based on their own experi- ence and habits. Certainly a technology savvy client will request a much more complicated system, which might be too difficult to use for others. In this case, being smart boils down to being user friendly to each individual case.

KA- When creating a living space, how much is design vs. practicality?
MP- I think in this aspect, we are “luxury functionalists”. Each home needs to function properly and therefore should incorporate all the “guts”, which ensure just that. I am talking about heating, ventilation, plumbing, lighting and all other “internal organs” needed, to ensure a pleasant living environment. The luxury parts come in the way of incorporating these elements into each home, so that they become non-distracting, hidden, and almost invisible. This is where the proper planning of the esthetics, look and design comes in.

KA- What books are you presently reading?
MP- Depends on the room I am in! I have The History of Czech and Central European Art and Architecture on the desk of my home office; I am halfway through the Notes from Underground by Dostoyevsky in my living room, and saving Laughable Loves (in Czech language) by Milan Kundera for the night table in my bedroom …. For now!

KA- Besides the obvious joy of seeing a project come to completion, what is the most joy experienced in creating a living space?

MP- As I mentioned above, I deeply enjoy the combination of the technical process of planning in three dimensions, with the artistic factor, as challenging as that might be!

KA- How important is art in a home design?
MP- If you consider art to include furniture, light fixtures, and skillfully crafted natural materials, besides the obvious paintings and sculptures, it is inevitably necessary.

KA- What would be a simple step to take, to update an existing home?
MP- It all depends in what state it is at the moment – it might be very simple or not simple at all!

KA- Who is Martina?
MP- Why spoil the mystery?

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INTERVIEW W/ YVES LEFEVBRE

KA- What was the catalyst, that made you go into the field of design?
YL- The poem L’Orange from Francis Ponge. A beautiful poem written during WWII. Beauty and poetry anchored into objects that we encounter in our daily environments. No muses. No subjective emotion of the soul. Just the pure description of the object through narrative, searching for the essence of the object. This is how I came to search for a field, where beauty would be in real and direct connection with poetry – the rest was just pure and exciting fun.

KA- Creating homes where a person spends the most of their time, is such a personal thing to do. How do you separate from this very personal aspect and allow your creativity to reflect the clients’ wishes?

YL- We tend to erase our personality at the beginning, when we meet with clients. Trying to search through their soul, their brain, their ideas…we are dream catchers in a sense and our goal is to find the essence of this dream. How we can materialize it, give it a designed form, projected into reality.

KA- Can there truly be such a thing as good taste and bad taste in the context of home design, since taste is so subjective?

YL- I do not believe personally in good taste or bad taste, this being such a bourgeois concept and far away from any cre- ative process or approach. I believe instead, in the sparkles created by the contact, superposition and /or juxtaposition of different styles, things, idea, concepts, lights, lines and colors. I remember once in design school, a Native fellow student with such a different sense of color that totally changed my way of looking at lights. The sparkles came from her way of connecting colors together, which was so foreign to my own cultural concept but created amazing fireworks of new sensations which I was unaware of. Some thought it was bad taste. It was rather I like it or not…As for me, I was seeing a new language with millions of possibilities.

KA- Where is home design heading with the future being right now, in terms of technology?
YL- Technology has always been part of the evolution of build- ings. As technology is currently heading forward at light speed, building and construction is rather slow in following all the trends. I think the next generation, which will have grown up with technology since a young age, and who is already so comfortable in manipulating and controlling all aspects of it, will realize all the possibilities technology may play in all aspects of building con- struction; (materials’ selection and analysis of performances) as well as living aspects (security, comfort, energy saving, execution of tasks, equipment control and revision…).

KA- Does the smart home exist?
YL- It does. Smart humans to live in yet to come. Next generation.

KA- When creating a living space, how much is design vs. practicality?
YL- There has to be a sort of osmosis. One cannot exist without the other. Design alone would be pure intellectual masturbation. Practicality only? There is some communist and authoritarian resonance to this word, which frightens me.

KA- What books are you presently reading?
YL- Daniel Pennac ‘’Le journal d’un corps’’ as well as an interesting book on molecular gastronomy.

KA- What is the most challenging aspect of your profession?

YL- Being able to explain, give, transmit to every worker on site, the vision of a project. It is fundamental. The success of a project will depend on the receptivity level of every trade and every per- son; and how well we make each participant dedicated to the well being, the full realization and accomplishment of the project.

KA- Besides the obvious joy of seeing a project come to completion, what is the most joy experienced in creating a living space?

YL- The first moment of creation is particularly inebriating to me. A line, a curve, the geometry of a space starting to come to life on a page, the volumes slowly coming into shape- there is quite a high in this conceptual stage of a project and I find it is very close to sexuality. There is a sense of seduction, playing, tasting, touching, imagining, exploring, discovering…..a sense of surprise and an exciting feeling of wanting to try more and more in different ways…weird ways…forbidden ways…For me, it is the most exciting moment….but I have to admit that seeing it taking shape is rather emotional, especially when delivering a completed project. I feel then like and elderly man, remembering his nights of foolish passions…and a smile appears on my face.

KA- Where in the world would be the dream place to create a home?
YL- On Cedar avenue – the latest home we created. This may change with the next one….

KA- How important is art in a home design?
YL- The question should rather be: How important is art in life? Essential! Period!

KA- What would be a simple step to take, to update an existing home?
YL- Hire a professional designer! We have received so many EMERGENCY last-minute calls on projects going out-of-control, due to lack of a professional. If you have a toothache, do you go see a brain surgeon? I am amazed by how people think they can do this job. Like so many of them say, they will write a book when they retire…in the same spirit, I am going to become a dentist when I retire…any future patients interested?

KA- Who are you guys :) … Who is Yves?
YL- SGM, 49y.o. 5’7in, cut hairless body, rather good looking, some brain here and there, sociable, witty and well-dressed looking to have fun with lines, space, shapes, colors and textures…Willing to share his experience as a dream catcher.

More info at www.ylmpdesign.com