Enrich Your Holidays with Handmade Designs
One of Canada’s top interior designers shares unique tips for festive decor
“I love helping people as much as finding beautiful artisanal products. Every time someone buys from an artist or an artisan, they’re helping these creators.”
One of Canada’s top interior designers, Ami McKay, believes in creating spaces that bring people joy and harmony.
Her work has been featured in multiple issues of Architectural Digest and other home design publications. McKay was also a host and designer on HGTV’s Makeover Wish, sharing tips for creating beautiful spaces that are unique to each person’s life and space.
She launched her company PURE Design in 2000 and recently opened PURE Design Shoppe, a retail store featuring ethical artisanal homewares.
For this festive issue, we invited McKay to share her story and reveal tips for sparking the holiday spirit in people’s hearts and homes.
When did your love for traditional craftsmanship and artisanal products begin?
It started when I was 23 years old, living in a very poor part of India as a volunteer in a cross-cultural exchange. I would sit and watch the weavers and artisans—usually women with bare feet weaving on the dirt floor—and I was mesmerized by them.
At that time, I wanted to start a shop in the West to help artisans sell their products.
In India, I also realized that the only factor stopping me in my own life was fear. I’m a Canadian woman born at a time when I could do anything I want. In India, the people in the caste system don’t have much of a choice.
The seeds of fearlessness I learned there led to my attitude today. If I have an opportunity, I’ll take it!
How do you find unique products for your online boutique?
I have a passion for discovering artisans doing beautiful work around the world. Sometimes I find them through word-of-mouth or after scouring the Internet for hours. I also travel a lot.
I love helping people as much as finding artisanal products. Every time someone buys from an artist or an artisan, they’re helping these creators.
What unique product are you sourcing at the moment?
I’m designing a home for clients who want an authentic European kitchen, and I’m looking for antique terracotta floor tiles from the south of France. When the old chateaux there are renovated, the tiles are taken out, so I’m sourcing them from that region. I find traditional tiles have such a beautiful patina with a lovely mix of colours, textures, and imperfections.
Have you brought artisanal craftsmanship into your own home?
When I was younger, I envisioned living in a house where everything was handmade. I wanted to make it all myself, including pottery doorknobs and glass-blown light fixtures.
I don’t have time to do that now, but I savour and enjoy the work of other artisans. For example, I have a unique handmade cup I use every day. Someone poured so much passion into creating it that it makes me extra happy.
The handmade pottery and tableware give the table character. Our dining room at home is minimal, but we have gorgeous plates and beautiful handmade linens. It’s like we’re eating off art every day.