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APPAREIL Architecture is a young Montreal-based firm with a bright future. It was founded in 2010 by Kim Pariseau, a very talented and prominent architect of the province of Québec. Driven by her mission to promote Nordic aesthetic, as it pertains to Canada, she is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with on the country’s design scene.
I wanted to know more about her motivation, her interests and her desire to promote Nordic architecture.
1. Tell us more about APPAREIL Architecture. How did it all started?
I developed an interest for architecture at an early aged. As a kid, I would always construct houses out of cardboard or cushions, and houses were my favourite drawing topic. I wanted to become an artist, but quickly understood it can be difficult to live from your art, so I went on and studying interior design instead. Back then, I was already drawn to monochrome color palettes, sleek lines and curated spaces. I enjoyed working in this field, but I was often frustrated when exciting projects were slowed down because we needed an architect’s seal of approval before going ahead. I wanted to do it all, and I realized getting a degree in architecture would be useful. It was a revelation. Working on a space (and the use of) is what truly inspires me. I love to work with the natural light, researching materials, etc. In the end, architecture was my true calling.
APPAREIL Architecture was founded in 2010, somewhat quickly and unexpectedly, after wining a contest organized by the city of Montreal looking for ideas on how to revamp the lot in from of its town hall. In order to claim our prize we had to have a registered business name, and that’s how the company was born – Simply as that!
Project: Maison Boréale
2. How did you choose the name APPAREIL? What does it mean?
In English, Appareil can be translated to ‘apparatus’. To me, an appareil is an amalgam of things that contribute to its whole, to its functioning. That’s how I see my projects. Many different people are involved, like ingredients to a recipe. Each artisan and creator I work with gives its own personal touch, its own added value. The result is always interesting and unique.
Project: Maison Percée
3. What is your style/design philosophy?
To me, good design is timeless, functional and beautiful. I always ask myself: “Will it last? Will it be convenient, practical and useful?” Everything should be well thought of. No non-sense. Simplify, simplify, simplify. And the beauty comes from this functionality. We will never add something to a space just because it is pretty or trendy. Quality is also a rule of thumb, and all my projects involve craftsmanship. That’s what truly gives a unique touch.
A few years ago, I visited Fogo Island Inn, Newfoundland, and it was a turning point for me. The architecture is somewhat formal and anchored in traditions, but well designed and contemporary, and in harmony with the surrounding landscape. I found the contrasts amazing, and I thought: “This is what I want to do.”
4. You had the opportunity to study in Copenhagen. How was it different than your education in Montreal?
I enjoyed it very much! I noticed the Danes’ careful attention to details and the constant quest to simplify the design. I learned to rethink and redraw my plans, making sure everything was useful, and focusing on the essence. Our teachers were allowing us plenty of time to carefully consider every aspect of our design, and that good things take time. The final result will only be better for it; more rational, more durable and more beautiful.
I also enjoyed how architects in Scandinavia are often involved in a project from A to Z. Back then in Canada, having an architect designing the interior and even furniture for the space was uncommon. To me, these things are intrinsically linked together. Thankfully, more and more clients see the added value to have an architect on board all the way to the finished product.
5. What place do you give to the environment in your design?
The environment is crucial, and considering it is the essence of good architecture. But to me, it goes beyond adding solar panels to a roof. It is about carefully considering each element, such as the climate, the light available, the wind, the typography, the flora and fauna, etc. It is about selecting materials because they are durable, not only beautiful. Quality is a must.
At APPAREIL, we like to keep the environment as natural as possible. We cut the minimum amount of trees and we use the wood during the construction. We come up with solutions to collect rainwater for the garden, use indigenous plants, and preserve a maximum of vegetation when building. It’s not rocket science. Being ecological doesn’t only imply new technologies. We can learn and take inspiration from our history, our heritage.
6. What is important to you when creating a space?
For us, quality of life is very important. We want to design a space that is inviting, convivial, warm, and personal. We create houses for people, not for magazines. Same thing for restaurants or workplaces: We think long and hard about the human experience.
7. Which projects are you proud of and why?
I conceived each project as if it was my own house, restaurant or office, so I love them all. I put a bit of my soul into each design. But the next one is what I’m the most excited about!
Project: Maison Boréale
8. Where do you look for inspiration?
In anything and everything, but people I meet are the greatest source of inspiration. Each new client has his/her own universe, and I find it fascinating. I also take inspiration from our roots and our culture. Finally, I get energized from the brainstorm sessions I have with my team. I love to hear about different point of views. Many great solutions and new ideas arise from this collaborative process.
Projet: Mezzanine Pavillons
9. What would be the ultimate project/assignment/collaboration?
This is a though question. Lately, I’ve been longing to design cabins for our national parks and the Sépaq. I love the idea to create a series of small, functional units in the middle of the forest and only accessible by canoe, for instance. It would be a great challenge to make these spaces comfortable, beautiful and ecological all at once. I definitely think our tourism industry would benefit from such architecture projects.
Make sure to visit APPAREIL’s website to check out their beautiful projects!