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JennAir Modern Luxury: A Q&A with Nam Dang-Mitchell

As a preview of AZURE‘s virtual talk on “Living Small” presented by JennAir, and taking place December 1, our sister magazine caught up with one of the event’s interior design expert panelists

By Designlines in partnership with JennAir
Photography by Colin Way Photography

Nam Dang-Mitchell has a way with composition. The Calgary interior designer’s residential and commercial projects feel both serene and brimming with ideas. With a classic sensibility, she pushes the bounds of spatial concepts to include the subtle yet often surprising integration of colours, metals and textures that give her spaces their signature warmth.

Dang-Mitchell is part of the second instalment of Modern Luxury: The Event Series presented by JennAir, and will be discussing the topic of “Living Small” on December 1. Focusing on the increasing need to turn small spaces into functional and beautiful living areas, the star panel of experts will provide meaningful tips and present inspiring case studies that will demonstrate how to make the most out of tight quarters. Attendees will learn how to turn compact kitchens into dream culinary zones and approach client challenges with unique and tailored design solutions.

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In anticipation of what we believe is going to be a great talk, AZURE caught up with Nam Dang-Mitchell to talk about how she designs small spaces with major personality.

You always begin the design of a home with a kitchen. What are some of the things you look for immediately? When it comes to small spaces, what do you focus on?

I usually start with the kitchen because it’s the hub of every home and it reveals the personality of the home. So what I look for is somewhere to create a focal point, one that can express that point of view. In a small space, I do the same thing but it’s really important to reduce visual clutter. I really love to use the JennAir panel-ready appliances, like the 24-inch column refrigerators and freezers. They’re perfect for small spaces.

In a recent residential interior, Nam Dang-Mitchell created a stunning kitchen in a small space.

How would you describe your style? By the way, I love the Design Edits that you do – what is the purpose of these exercises?

It’s always hard describing your own style. I love environments that have a classic timelessness to them. But I also like adding in edgier, more modern or vintage pieces just to keep it interesting.

The Design Edits are a great way for me to explore and expand my visual language, my visual vocabulary. I can test things out without any big consequences!

You’re doing both single-family and multiunit projects now, including a townhouse development in Calgary. What learnings do you bring from one to the other?

In multi-unit residential, I bring everything I learned doing smaller residential projects and vice versa. But I also do some commercial projects – food and beverage and retail. And I would say that commercial spaces can really benefit from the warmth and the human scale in residential design. And when designing a home, it can benefit from an approach most people take to commercial design, which is to have an overarching theme that carries throughout the space. There’s a really distinct point of view that carries out from the furnishings to the door knobs to lighting – and keeps it consistent.

The kitchen features panel-ready appliances as well as a knockout range – all by JennAir.

What are you working on now and what’s on the drawing boards for the future?

I’m doing a restaurant and several homes, including one in Maui, and a loft for myself and my husband in an old warehouse building in New York’s Hudson Yards where I’ll be installing a full suite of JennAir appliances – so I’m pretty excited about those. It’s a dream job but it’s also a nightmare designing for yourself; it’s never-ending and you’re always second-guessing yourself!

The other thing I’m doing, of course, is participating in Modern Luxury: The Event Series presented by JennAir on December 1, where I’ll be discussing the topic of “Living Small” with some fellow designers.

What kinds of tips should attendees expect from the JennAir Canada talk?

When it comes to living small, an important tip is that you really have to make every square inch of the space function for you. But my main concern when I work in a small space is to make sure the palette is controlled and limited. Because it can quickly look chaotic. To create a calm and serene space, really watch that palette!

The cozy living room features a light-grey palette that speaks to the kitchen’s stone finishes.

What makes a home complete to you – especially when it comes to a home/condo with a small footprint?

Regardless of the size, a home is complete when it serves you functionally, when it pleases you aesthetically and it comforts you emotionally. You can have all of those things in a big or small space.

On December 1, join AZURE and JennAir for a virtual discussion on “Living Small,” focusing on the increasing need to turn small spaces into functional and beautiful living areas.

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