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Playful Duo Villa Villa’s Curvy, Colourful Designs

Two designers launch an inaugural collection that straddles the fine line between fun and sophisticated

By Daniel Baird
Photography by Naomi Finlay

Vanessa Jackson and Tony Romano, who work under the name Villa Villa, perfectly complement one another. She’s trained in fine cabinetmaking and design, and is mindful of form and structure in her creations. He is a sculptor who grew up welding and bending steel in the family business, and injects a distinct sense of play into his work. The two of them started making stuff together last year and chose the name Villa Villa because it’s both warm and whimsical. It also suggests intimacy and urbanity, and mirrors their lives as romantic partners and collaborators.

Villa Villa’s designs are simple, elegant and invested in the sensuous properties of their materials. And they’re often quite witty. Influenced by Bauhaus designer Josef Hoffmann and American sculptor Alexander Calder, their inaugural collection, Villa, is all about the line – the straight and the curved. Their clever combination coat rack, seat and shoe mat, a perfect accessory for a small Toronto condo, has a long, slow loop of blue steel tubing that gently rises up and dives down (its elongated curve serves as the seat’s back rest). Their lounge chair, upholstered in grey leather, evokes gently rolling water. Its low, undulating steel supports are fabricated through hand bending. And it’s a lounger in the truest sense: it has no function other than to provide a place to completely chill out.

Villa Villa’s most charming piece is its custom-made plant stand. Submit the dimensions of your unruly plant, and Jackson and Romano will design a beautiful, curving steel support that fits it just so. Their dining room table, on the other hand, moves away from organic forms: the smoked-glass top is supported by a steel square, triangle and circle. It’s almost a metaphor for their aesthetic – a ground-floor commitment to primary shapes.

The future? “I don’t expect our work to change very much,” says Romano. “We don’t care about trends at all. We just like beautiful things.” Jackson adds, “Right now we’re really just trying to find our voice in the world of design.”

Originally published in our Summer 2015 issue as A Fine Line.

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