Imagine a journeyman welder working on large industrial projects in Alberta and an art gallery director from Edmonton. They meet, fall in love, and have to figure out what to do with their lives. They want something that will allow them to combine their respective talents and raise a family. What do they do? Human math is complicated, but it also leads to amazing things.
In this case, it produced Studio 126, a furniture workshop/store, art gallery, and creative gathering place in the heart of Chinatown at 126 East Pender. We discovered Studio 126 after a lifetime of living among a collection of functional hand-me-downs. We had hoped (after all those years of boring furniture) to buy a table made from reclaimed wood that was manufactured right here in Vancouver. We spent months looking for one and almost gave up until we discovered Anna and Ryan at Studio 126.
Walking into Studio 126 for the first time was something like walking into someone’s living room - just with lots of really nice furniture. The studio is a family space; their two children, Leokadia and Gabriele, hang out with them in the store almost every day. They eat together at the studio at least once a day and their friends stop by to visit, so it’s a living space as well the couple’s work space.
In addition, as they see it, people need “a warm inviting atmosphere that gives people a realistic idea of what our furniture will feel like in their home.” Tables, benches, shelves, couches and even slabs of reclaimed wood create an environment that helps you imagine inviting people over to hang out at your new dining room table.
Anna and Ryan collaborate on almost everything they do. “Anna checks in with Ryan throughout the design process, and Ryan checks in with Anna while he’s welding” to produce classic Canadian furniture. Ryan’s background in welding produces incredibly crafted metal work that somehow highlights the natural beauty of the wood. Anna’s goal in design is to create “furniture and spaces that conform to” how people will use things at home.
A big part of what makes Studio 126’s pieces stand out is the wood itself. On a recent visit to the store, a whole wall was lined with massive slabs of reclaimed wood. Using this type of wood has obvious environmental and aesthetic benefits, but sourcing it can often be a challenge. Ryan and Anna have travelled all over the lower mainland and much of Vancouver Island in search of good pieces. Last year, on a fishing trip near Bamfield, they found a beautifully weathered monster piece of flotsam that they just had to bring back. Each one, and each person they have worked with to get the wood, is part of their furniture’s story. As craftspeople, Ryan and Anna seek “to highlight and preserve the beauty of what [they] find, be it a beautiful live edge slab or a perfectly distressed piece from a 100 year old building.”
Besides being artists themselves, Anna and Ryan are working hard to make Studio 126 something of a community centre. Hosting events and workshops with local artists like Lucy Poskitt and Klee Larsen-Crawford, Studio 126 draws the community together. When possible they sell local artist’s work alongside their incredible furniture.
Whether you’re in the market for furniture or not, Studio 126 is worth a stop. You’ll feel like you wandered into the home you always wanted.