Olga Korper Gallery

Olga1 After a morning at the Toronto Interior Design Show this past January, I joined a fantastic group of designers for an afternoon gallery tour. Our first stop was Olga Korper Gallery. Our guide, Olga’s granddaughter Taiga, so vibrant and incredibly passionate about the art and artists gracing their space. Olga’s gallery is a special place as it is a live-work environment, where creativity oozes around every corner and it would seem that old souls gather with a cappuccino or glass of wine in the casual seating area. Olga4 From Olga’s personal collection: artist Yoshi Sankawa. Olga5 “Lobby” by artist Lynne Cohen l “Gdansk” by artist Sigalit Landau Olga3 There are no “accessories” in this home, only artifacts and collected treasures. Skull by artist: Tim Whiten vignettes1 The main space at the Olga Korper Gallery juxtaposes raw industrial and crisp white walls allowing the art to speak volumes in the space.  Olga6 Olga2 The main exhibition during our visit was by Marianne Lovink, a Canadian sculpture, now based out of Philadelphia. Her work evokes a scientific whimsy, a rare collection of ordinary objects, much like Wunderkammer (or Cabinet of Curiosities), not literally a cabinet, rather a collection of magical and mystical items inspired by organisms and elements of the natural world.   Olga7 I was quite take by these neon words tucked in a light filled corner of the gallery. “Once, I saw” by artist Barbara Steinman

Thank you Olga, for welcoming us into your fantastic gallery and living space. And to Taiga for your passionate approach to art, one that I’m sure inspires many.

Be further inspired by Olga Korper and see more of her fantastic live/work gallery space in this House and Home video feature and if you find yourself in Toronto, a visit to her gallery is a must.

Nyla Free Designs, Calgary Interior Designer, Calgary Professional, Interior Designer,



lately loving: neon signs

neon signs in interiors Neon signs are typically thought of as outdoor signage, highlighting landmarks with beams of bright and colourful light, prominent mostly at night, they are also quiet visible in daylight. Signs have a tacky reputation in some cases, however in others, the attention to graphics become a prominent feature making them works of art, not just an indication of building or company name.

The use of neon started over 100 years ago and became increasingly popular in the US from 1920 – 1960. Since then, we have seen a decline in the use of the gas charged tubes in signs outdoors, however great efforts are being made to preserve and restore antique neon signs. The Museum of Neon Art (MONA), located in Glendale California encourages learning and curiosity of the art form both new and old, also offering neon cruises through the streets of Los Angeles.

Now the trend is moving inside with the art of neon becoming wildly popular in interiors. Artists are embracing this medium with text, geometrics and once again large signs used as dynamic wall decor. All you need is a plug in…

Image credits: little by little l good luck l oops l you make me wonder l come with me Nyla Free Designs, Calgary Interior Designer, Calgary Professional, Interior Designer,


artist profile: roberto dutesco

Sable Island, off the coast of Nova Scotia has been the site of an incredible 475 ship wrecks with horses being among the only survivors. Sailors, convicts and pirates have all occupied the island at some time, however never permanent. The length of Manhattan and width of Central Park, Sable Island is home of geology, natural history and plants numbering 175 species. The islands population fluctuates between 175 and 450 individuals living in family bands of two to ten. A fascinating and magical place, the movements and curiosities of the Wild Horses of Sable Island have been captured by Roberto Dutestco, a New York based artist working in photography, poetry and film.

I was introduced to Roberto Dutesco first by this space featured in Metropolitan Home. I still love it. A client of mine had pulled the same image from the magazine tagged as an artist she was interested in. After several years and deciding on the perfect location she purchased “Love Bite”. Roberto, captures the beauty and mystery of the wild horses, in their element and his. Watching and waiting for the perfect opportunity, Roberto is patient, becoming completely connected to them and their quirks and tendencies. The result is special, really, really special.

Emy at the gallery was fantastic to work with, walking us through all the sizes, colour options and framing. This was all done at a distance and went off without a hitch. We talked often and I looked forward to one day meeting in person.

Fast forward a few years later, May 2011 to be exact. While in New York for Blogfest I had added on a few extra days to my trip and had a great day wandering around Soho with Sharon and Yvonne from Layers and Layers.

You can imagine my surprise and excitement when I turned a corner and saw the gallery of Roberto Duetesco. And then walking into the gallery and seeing Roberto there, working on this piece….wow!

Roberto’s artistic skills fill the edges and surround the image of Wild Horses. So personal and such beautiful detailing.

The Documentary Film Festival presents: Chasing Wild Horses

Watch more videos of his incredible photo shoot with the horses here.

Meeting Roberto was a highlight for me. Sharon and Yvonne from Layers and Layers can attest to the gasp I made as we turned the corner and saw his gallery. For him to be present AND working his magic on the piece above was icing on the cake. The cherry on top was the little note and autograph I left with, along with the big smile and a heart full of inspiration.

Thank you Roberto!


Image credit: Elle Decor Interior design by Garret Cord Werner, photo by John Granen

All other images: Nyla Free Designs


Nyla Free Designs is a full service Calgary Interior Design studio. Our goal is to bring your home to life by revealing your style and infusing unexpected elements of design and detail. If we can help with your project please let us know! See the contact page to get in touch.

Nyla Free Designs also offers an online design service through Design in a Box.


artist: kate schutz

I was recently introduced to Kate Schutz‘ art when I purchased a piece for a Calgary client’s bathroom after their renovation was complete. I had the pleasure of meeting her in person at an event at Domaine and was thrilled to learn more about her artwork. Naturally I wanted to introduce you as well! I love Kate’s passionate description of her art and where she finds her inspiration so please take a moment to say hello.

“My work is about memory. I am fascinated by the bittersweet aspect of nostalgia that is neither entirely happy nor sad, but is a universal experience that humanizes us. The past is a deeply personal and resonant place for people and I am always looking at ways to capture these feelings on canvas; immortalize them and make them big. My paintings are usually larger than life size which makes the subject hard to pull away from. There is both a sense of comfort and awkwardness in my work. I find it easier to represent the universality of these nostalgic subjects if I remain detached a little bit, so I often work from memories that are not my own. My source images come from snapshots from other people’s photo albums and most recently from strangers via requests on the Internet. I am especially drawn to photos that are blurry, disintegrating or over-exposed because visually they look so much like our foggy, fading memories. Recent series have included Birthday Parties, Cities at Night and now a call for submissions for Summer Vacation images. And sometimes, when I need a break from other people’s memories, I go into the woods and paint trees, just to remind myself about the joy of this everyday life!”

Do you have a childhood summertime memory captured in a photo? One that perhaps epitomizes a time where you were free as a bird and thought time could stand still? Kate has a call out for Summer Vacation photos with a contest to boot. Take a moment to dig through the archives or your old summer memories and send it off to Kate. The winner will receive a collection of all the images in postcard form. How lovely to have one of those arrive in your mailbox?

Here is the one I’m going to submit. It’s a photo of my husband and his sister at the beach, circa 1978. Aren’t they cute? One definitely looks happier than the other LOL!

So what are you waiting for? If you don’t submit, I of course have a better chance of winning but I think it would be great to support Kate and help spread the word, don’t you?

Pop on over to Kate’s blog to see what the submission guidelines are and good luck!

You can find more of Kate’s work at Domaine Fine Furnishings in Calgary and also at her Etsy shop.



artist: murray duncan

There are certain pieces of furniture that go beyond function and can truly be called works of art. A collaboration between Murray Duncan and Hardware Interiors has become just that. Focused on unique, vintage and salvage findings in an effort to create one of a kind furniture, lighting and art, each piece is a conversation starter in it’s own way. Not limited by conventional applications, Murray’s art is incorporated into the faces of such pieces as sideboards, credenzas and armoire’s creating a statement in any room. Subtle yet dramatic, I adore the graffiti like quality in the hand written text with a message of contemplation.

“the end of monday” 2011 mixed media under resin 48″ x 60″

A collage of both furniture and traditional artwork.

Two armoires with Murray’s artwork incorporated into the doors. Each piece is custom built so whatever your space, size or function needs are, the team at Hardware Interiors are sure to create that special piece and truly a work of art.

You can see more of Murray’s art at Hardware Interiors and Rouge Concept in Toronto or online at www.murrayduncan.com.


artist: heyday design

During my recent trip to Vancouver I wandered into the Gallery of BC Ceramics on Granville Island. A simple space, filled with lovely pieces of pottery. Traditional and modern, colourful and natural. Each piece was a handmade treasure. I did walk out with a purchase, however this artist in particular caught my eye and I immediately fell in love with her whimsy, simplicity and homage to such simple objects as canning jars.

Perhaps you’ve heard of Claire Madill, the artist behind Heyday Design, however I just couldn’t help but introduce her again. Inspired by vintage kitchen wares, Claire breathes new life into unassuming objects that seem to find her, and turns them into beautiful art pieces. I adore this collection of ceramic canning jars that exude a functional beauty.

Supporting young, up and coming artisans gives you the joy of not only owning a piece of their art, but also supporting their future endeavors. Great things to come from Claire I’m sure! For information on purchasing, please visit the where to buy section of Claire’s website.

I can certainly tell that Claire creates from her heart, the sign of a true artist.