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Japandi style

Cosentino and luxury interior designer Claudia Afshar bring UKIYO to BC

The floating world. Living in the moment. Savouring the moon, the snow, the cherry blossoms and the maple leaves. Detaching from life’s everyday problems. That is the meaning of the Japanese word ukiyo, the name given to the newest Japandi-inspired Dekton Collection, designed by Claudia Afshar in collaboration with Cosentino, a family-owned sustainable surfaces company.

We are sitting in Cosentino’s vast 4,293-square-foot showroom in Vancouver’s Armoury District (a smaller showroom is located in Burnaby), and the area is festooned with a stunning array of towering pink silk cherry trees in full bloom. It’s an amazing tribute to Claudia Afshar’s sophisticated new UKIYO Collection of textured interior and exterior natural cladding. It’s also a serendipitous collaboration, because as Claudia was surprised and delighted to learn, Vancouver is a twin city with Yokohama, Japan, and the country has gifted hundreds of cherry trees to the city, beginning in the 1930s. And just across the water, Victoria is a “sister” city to Morioka, Japan.

“As a kid I was always rearranging the furniture in my bedroom and driving my mom crazy,” laughs Claudia, the London-born, Los Angeles-based founder and principal of Claudia Afshar Design. Although professionally trained in ballet and contemporary dance, Claudia seemed destined to continue the family business.

“My mom, who was an interior designer, had a wonderful showroom in Belsize Park in London. It consisted of architects, a building team and one of the largest fabric houses. So, I remember as a kid getting lost in all the fabulous fabric samples. Later, when I wasn’t dancing, I’d intern there. And without really thinking about it, interior design just became embedded in me,” she says.

“Japandi [a fusion of Japanese and Scandinavian minimalist design] has been resonating with me for a long time,” confesses Claudia, whose attention to detail has garnered client accolades from around the world. “Minimalism, which is very much my aesthetic, also originates from Japan. It’s all about using raw materials: clean, large-scale slabs, metals and wood.”

She adds: “And we share many of those same elements here in the Pacific Northwest that have had a profound influence on interior design, furniture and architecture. Our profusion of beautiful natural woods like Douglas fir, oak, red cedar, maple and alder, are often juxtaposed and accessorized with brass, bronze, copper and gold decor.”

Dekton by Cosentino is a carbon-neutral ultracompact porcelain surface, created by combining over 20 minerals compressed under high pressure, making it extremely durable and stain and scratch resistant. It’s so strong, it can easily be adapted to curved edges without worry of breakage. Used in multiple iterations, the new UKIYO Collection has vast applications besides wall facades.

“There’s a tremendous diversity for this product,” says Claudia. “It can be used around kitchen islands, stairs, bath and spa cabinetry and fireplace surrounds, as anti-slip flooring and even for poolside exteriors that extend the fluidity from indoor to outdoor spaces. And there are so many ways that UKIYO Dekton can be incorporated into furniture. We’ve already created a chaise lounge and a trolley bar on wheels using the collection and we’re really excited about them.”

Inspired by nature and the organic world, Claudia says she “takes the littlest snippets of the tiniest discoveries from my travels, like the cobbled streets in Europe or the way the water ripples when a rock hits it,” and expands on those images when designing.

“My 10-year-old daughter, Paisley, and I were in Malibu and she was running along the beach and said ‘Mummy, look at this stone.’ And I thought, this is an amazing stone, very weathered and decayed, I have to use it in one of the designs for this project—so I did!” Claudia laughs.

Like an enveloping cocoon that brings warmth to any room, UKIYO is available in two structured, fluted-pattern widths that reflect a subtle geometric texture, and five matte colours that cast a sensual calm and feeling of wellness over any environment. Dekton Bromo is a dark slate grey shade that evokes a moody atmosphere; Dekton Umber recalls the warm natural pigments of earthy terracotta, like the roof tiles found in the south of France, Spain, Mexico and Morocco. The neutral Dekton Nacre is an organic cream shade that evokes the colour of mother-of-pearl inside a mollusk shell. Inspired by cement, Dekton Kreta can create lighter or darker dimensions, depending upon the density of the fluting. Dekton Rem captures the subtle elegance of brown and grey veining with hints of gold.