Beauty Through Design and Memory
An Interview with Louis Duncan-He
Calgary-based interior designer, Louis Duncan-He, got his start in corporate advertising, a background he uses in working with his clients to bring their homes to life. Approaching design holistically allows Louis to create spaces for his clients that not only incorporate modern, intelligent design, but the functionality and individuality that each client is looking for. We spoke to Louis about his start in the industry, his design philosophy, his advice for updating your home this spring, and why EQ3 fits so well with his business and clientele.
Tell us how you go into interior design
“After finishing my diploma in corporate advertising, I found myself working in the PR & Marketing department at Cecconi Simone in Toronto.This is really when I first got my taste of good design. Although I was sort of circling the realm of interior design (whether it was photoshoots or in the advertising department), I always thought that someday this would be something that I could really enjoy doing.
Fast forward approximately twelve years later and after a fairly successful career in advertising, I found myself again flirting with the idea of designing interiors. I started to design my girlfriend’s homes one at a time (to slowly build up a portfolio), and within a year I had over fifteen projects in the works, all through referrals.”
How do your various talents in art, brand design, and activism inform your design philosophy?
“I view the entire notion of design as really one large, connected entity. To me, design is not just about how things look, but it’s about capturing a feeling, an emotion or perhaps bringing me back to a memory. As a result of this, I have always looked at and approached design holistically. The way I dress, the art and music I love, and my personal passions should all make sense and be reflected in the home I choose to live in.
I think because of my macro approach I’m able to avoid losing myself in the super nitty-gritty when discussing aspirations with a client. I’m able to quickly understand who they are as a fully actualized person and use that understanding as the compass, guiding any design decision I make, ensuring it’s a true reflection of who they are as a person or family.”
Can you walk us through your process in designing a room?
“I actually use my experience in corporate advertising in my design process. In advertising, the most difficult part of the process is to ensure your client buys into the overall idea before focusing on all the production elements and details. As a result of this, the first phase in my process is to nail down the look, tone, and feel. This is done with a very clear design brief approved by the client, mood boards, and conceptual renderings.
Design is super subjective, so my goal is to try to make the process as objective as possible. The word modern or contemporary can mean completely different things from one client to another.
Once we have a fully agreed on a concept, I then start to source finishings, furniture items, and fixtures. I present the major items of the room to the client (providing them with back-up options that will all work in the space at different price points) for approval. Once we get all the major pieces sorted, I then finish with décor and styling, which is the last phase.
I don’t like to get too deep into those discussion early on because it’s so easy to lose a client in talking about prints for cushions, artwork, and other finishing items that should not be the priority and are easily interchangeable.”
What is it about EQ3’s products and lifestyle that fit so well into your own approach to design?
“I love EQ3 because I truly feel that it is such a superior price point for the level of quality, craftsmanship, and great design that you get in each and every piece. I also love that most of the items can be made custom, which makes it easy for me to incorporate them into almost any space. I love that even though EQ3 is known for modern and contemporary furniture, there are so many pieces with other types of lines and shapes that can be used to create spaces in various different styles (traditional, modern, bohemian, contemporary…the list goes on).”
What are your favourite EQ3 pieces?
I love Cello. I think the shape is just so timeless and elegant while still having an extremely accessible quality. You just want to dive into any Cello piece because it looks so inviting. I also love that the memory foam allows for the look of comfort while still retaining its shape. Other lines I love are Salema (such a great line for any transitional space), Oskar (so versatile and customizable), and the new Lima counter stools (love the fabric selection and timeless lines).
What advice do you have for someone looking to update their home or uncover their room’s potential this spring?
“I would say to really take the time to think about how you actually want to live. I think that good design always stems from some sort of functionality. Are you a family that likes to entertain a lot? Is it really important that each of your living spaces flow fluidly into the next? Do you need very clearly defined spaces? Do you want your space to feel larger and more open or cozier and more intimate?
Once you have that understanding, it will help create parameters around how the space needs to be designed. I think by having those objective parameters, we can actually be more creative in how we bring that idea and space to life. When we have a really good understanding of that goal, often we are able to even re-arrange items we already have in our home for better functionality and flow, and then to just fill in the gaps with the décor items or transitional pieces needed to update and finish the space.”
What new projects do you have coming up?
“I currently have a large renovation (a client wants to purchase a home and completely gut it), three children’s spaces, and three other family homes I’m working on. I’m also a published artist and am in the process of creating an abstract and luxury collection specifically geared for boutique hotels with my publishers in San Francisco. In addition, we are excited to grow our YouTube channel, offering great content that blends interiors, style, and art.”
What is your design philosophy?
“Because of my background in corporate advertising and brand strategies, the first order of business for me was to create a brand model for my business and brand.
My Purpose: to Realize Beauty
My Promise: to Empower Within
My Belief: Style Can Change Lives
You can read more about my philosophy here.”
How did you find EQ3?
“I first heard about EQ3 during my time at Cecconi Simone, just because of the very modern and contemporary approach they had in their aesthetic. The name started coming up more and more naturally as my friends and colleagues started to transition from their early/mid-20s into adulthood in their 30s. A lot of people I knew shopped at EQ3 and it’s always just stuck with me as being great design and value.”