The MoJo Design Inc. team was in New York City a few years ago for an interior design show when it stumbled across several interactive pop-up shows in the streets.
“We’re like, we need to see things like this in Edmonton,” says Leigh Wright, designer, artist and marketing manager at MoJo Design Inc. “That was the initial spark.”
The team organized its first Vignettes event shortly after, in 2013, and the scope of the event has changed every year since. The first Vignettes showcased furniture pieces crafted by students in the University of Alberta’s Student Design Association, the second brought in local woodworkers, and the third paired woodworkers with artists and designers. The collaborative event gives participants a chance to create spaces with no constraints besides size – they’re each given an eight-by-eight foot square.
“This allows all the designers to push the envelope, to do that project that they’ve always wanted to do,” says Maureen Wright, co-owner and interior designer at MoJo. “Show what you could do, how your mind thinks, where you can go.”
For the fourth edition, an entirely new element is being incorporated into Vignettes – the culinary world – and the formerly one-night gala has transformed into a two-weekend design festival. “The one weekend will be all focused on the design and collaboration, and the next one is all about the design and culinary,” says Leigh Wright.
Participants from the teams creating the Vignettes spaces had the option of taking on an additional challenge of creating pop-up eateries in collaboration with local restaurants and MoJo team members. There’s slated to be a rooftop patio, a shipping-container restaurant in a parking lot, amongst other concepts – and there certainly have been some over-the-top requests. “Rostizado asked us to build them a forno oven so they could roast pig outside,” says Leigh Wright. “We didn’t think anyone would take on making a real brick oven, then some of the people involved said, ‘I probably could do that.'”
In the end, Rostizado purchased an outdoor roaster but, if those are the strides designers are willing to take, then the Vignettes 4 Showcase – which takes place at the old Sobey’s space on 104th Street from September 15 to 17 – is sure to be a visual treat. Add to that the dinner and design night on September 24, held at four restaurants along the 4th Street Promenade, and it looks as though Vignettes has made a full evolution from showcase to festival.
Wright sees the design festival as something that will not only showcase the individual designers and artists, but will raise the profile of the design industry in Edmonton as a whole. “People were like, are you nuts? You’re going to market all of your competition,” says Wright. “And I said absolutely, 100 per cent. I want to market the industry in Edmonton, and if we create a demand for the industry, everyone will benefit.”