Janette Ewen lives partly in Toronto, partly in LA, and partly on Instagram. The ubiquitous interior designer and lifestyle expert needs to keep tabs on so many people, places and trends, it’s only natural that she lives part of her life in the virtual sphere.
“I’m in a different city every few days; it’s a great way to stay in touch with people,” she says. In fact, she originally connected with Jef Hancock, her design partner in the California-based design studio Parker Barrow Design, through Instagram.
Now that IG is on everyone’s radar, “I think it’s more possible than ever before,” she says, “because it’s visual, and you can build natural bonds with direct messaging and stories.
I’ve met a lot of my best friends on Instagram—I met my current boyfriend on Instagram! We were Instagram friends for about six years and we both race cars.”
It’s also an ideal platform for her numerous partnership projects with brands like Victorinox (makers of the iconic Swiss Army Knife, as well as other types of knives, ingeniously designed travel gear and fragrances), eBay and Sports Chek.
“I act as a spokesperson for a lot of great products, but I’m expanding it more to do collaborations, and it’s nice when it becomes a bit more,” she says. For example? Her holiday e-card for PayPal, or the complete line of furniture and home accessories she created for the Montreal-based firm Mobilia.
Her peripatetic lifestyle feeds directly into her coolhunting work. “I think I’m a naturally curious person, and I have a really wide range of friends in my life,” she says. “I’m always seeking things out. I talk to people to see what’s new—and when you see it replicate, you know it’s going be a trend. I love going over to Europe and bringing things back from there.”
Lately, she’s been captivated by the eclectic glow of Shoreditch, the once-shabby East-End London district that’s quickly filling with young creatives and the urban amenities they require. “Last time I stayed in Shoreditch, it was kind of rundown,” she says. “There’s this neat new look that’s inspired by the area. I just redid my place last week with a vibe I found in Shoreditch: lots of velvet, lots of rich colours, deep greens, burgundies, mustards, orange, and it’s great how well it works together. There’s a great quirky aspect to it, too.”
Ewen predicts we’re seeing a sea change in the style world towards this kind of opulent bohemianism. “It’s a great break to the hipster movement we’ve seen everywhere: the reclaimed wood, the chalkboard, the marquis signs,” she says. “It’s not a bad look, but when you see so much of it, you start to tune out. And I think the pendulum swings: you go from hipster-minimalist-rustic to maxing it out.”
Today, design currents are originating in Italy and Mexico City, she believes. “Peach is going to be huge, paired with green. A lot of geometric shapes: circles, squares, cut-outs. It’s cutting-edge in Italy. Art Deco, but with an ’80s twist: ’80s Miami Beach mixed with late ‘20s. I think we’re going to be seeing a lot more personality and individuality in everything from home décor to makeup and fashion.”
Which ties back to Instagram, because, says Ewen, social platforms are fundamentally changing how we experience and share design ideas. “With the onset of social media, people are becoming their own reality show,” she says. “I think we’ll see less en masse trends and more microtrends, because we’re seeing the launch of the micro-celebrity with social media. We’re seeing character and personality again.”
In home design, this means “people are trusting their eye more and realizing that if it looks right, it is right,” Ewen says. “We used to think that for a high-designed home you need to hire a designer, but I just love when I walk into a room and someone’s personality shines through.”
Janette Ewen will share her trend-spotting savvy with our readers as Vitalize Magazine’s new Home Editor! Watch for her in our in next issue.
By Sarah B. Hood
Photography by Eric Locko
Makeup by Kellee Merrell
Art direction by Patrick Delanty