At the epicentre of historic Gastown at One Water Street, a series quirky window displays offer a glimpse into the heart of Secret Location. Adorned with giant keys, the glass doors of this hidden boutique open to a playground of couture by designers whose names we are not yet familiar with. The knick-knacks are decidedly whimsical, art books weighty, and perhaps the most intriguing is the inclusion of exotic furniture and carpets in this otherwise high-end clothing store.
Founded in June 2012, Secret Location is the brainchild of world-traveler Carey Melnichuk and is known as Canada’s first luxury concept store. A singular location that embraces ingenuity, quality craftsmanship, and bold thinking by international creatives such as the legendary Antwerp Six member Ann Demeulemeester, Georgian designer David Koma, Kiev-based BEKh, Parisian shoe god Jean-Michel Cazabat, and perfumer Pozzo Di Borgo.
The store’s brilliant white space is dotted with impossibly long-legged mannequins and intriguing vignettes incorporating stunning pieces by fledgling Indian design company Scarlet Splendour and collaborator Italian designer Matteo Cibic.
Scarlet Splendour’s furniture has been on display at Secret Location since this past April. The brand, created by siblings Ashish Bajoria and Suman Kanodia launched their inaugural collaboration with the quirky Cibic. The Vanilla Noir Collection was inspired by Italian masterpieces from the 14th century to the 1930s utilizing the Indian handicraft style of ivory inlay. Cibic’s collection replaced the ivory pieces with moulded resin pieces and to date, he has designed seven collections and more than 80 products for the company.
Cibic is a 33-year-old product designer based in Venice who is known for his love of anthropomorphic and joyful shapes. He works in a variety of mediums including ceramics, and with many luxury brands (Beck’s, Benetton Group, Nespresso, Levi’s, Nike), and artisans. Most known internationally for his Domsai ‘deskfriend’ terrariums, the defunct AAAAAAAAAA clothing line which focused on suspender pants, NasoVaso 365-day research project, and the enveloping the TIM Towers in Rome.
In Vancouver for annual IDS (Interior Design Show), Cibic spoke and presented pieces from his Il Paradiso Dei Sogni collection of ceramic fictional anthropomorphic animals. “It’s a collection of dreamlike scenarios of eight animals that live in this kind of paradise where they constantly make love,” he explains.
After IDS had wrapped, Melnichuk hosted Cibic at Secret Location with an intimate event and invited select media and VIP customers. Over the course of an hour, this lanky energetic Italian managed to encapsulate his prolific design career into a witty and entertaining presentation with slides and video. He shared stories of his youth and how he went through phases of obsession while deciding what to do as a career. His youthful dream of being an artist destroyed after viewing Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear, followed by a desire to be the Catholic Pope, and then basketball great Michael Jordan.
His White Donky and Black Donky were perhaps the most beloved and photographed pieces at both IDS and Secret Location. These hybrid characters from the Il Paradiso dei Sogni collection are large ceramic creations finished in the brightest white glaze with 24 karat gold and all are limited runs of 99 per piece. Ranging in price from 275€ for the tiny mouse Princess to 1,625€ for the Luky Dog with human feet, astute collectors will find these pieces are only available at select galleries in Italy and one in Mumbai.
(This article was originally published in Vancouver Boulevard Chinese/English Magazine).
- Helen Siwak is the founder of EcoLuxLuv Marketing & Communications Inc and publisher of Folio.YVR Luxury Lifestyle Magazine and digital women's lifestyle magazine EcoLuxLifestyle.co. She is a prolific content creator, consultant, and marketing and media strategist within the ecoluxury lifestyle niche. Post-pandemic, she has worked with many small to mid-sized plant-based/vegan brands to build their digital foundations and strategize content creation and business development. Helen is the west coast correspondent to Canada’s top-read industry magazine Retail-Insider, holds a vast freelance portfolio, and consults with many of the world’s luxury heritage brands. Always seeking new opportunities and challenges, you can email her at email@example.com.
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