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Everything Art Is Illuminated in Canada

Cowichan Valley is situated in a bucolic corner of Vancouver Island and is well known for its wine, food and Mediterranean-like climate — it is reputed to have more sunny days than anywhere else in Canada.

So it’s easy to see why architectural and painters designer Richard Roblin would design and construct a home for himself and his wife, Eve. “In planning the house, I had been conscious of the capability to experience this wonderful climate to the utmost by providing accessibility to the outdoors from every significant area of the house,” he states.

It was also important to have display space for artwork. “The performance of every space was given careful consideration in not just how it worked, but the way its aesthetic improved the living experience,” states Roblin. “All things considered, what could be more lovely than residing in a beautiful space that works?” And this house works.

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Artist Richard Roblin stands next to his painting “Awakening.” Behind him is the entrance into his studio. “The glass and wood sliding door offers an Asian simplicity for this alcove,” he states.

“The doorway is mirrored from the white lacquered wall, which expands the space visually.” For continuity, the exact same end was used on the property’s kitchen cabinets and entrance closets.

Click photo to see larger pictures in a slide show

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From the living area, “a lively play of light, color, form and texture combine to create a clear aesthetic vision,” states Roblin. “The furnishings and accessories reflect my lifelong passion for art, architecture and design.” Doors beyond the dining area open onto an herb garden and a terrace. The painting is “Muse” from Roblin’s “Monogram” series.

The area rugs are part of Roblin’s “Artwalk” carpeting collection, and this specific layout was inspired by a painting from his “Fallingwater” series.

Living room: Bensen sleeper sofa: Inform Interiors; classic glass lamp: Handel; marble side tables: custom layout by Roblin.

Dining room: upholstered table: ItalInteriors; birch and stainless metal seats: Nienkamper; classic vase: Steuben; iridescent orange deco bowl: Royal Doulton; frozen rice paper Floatation lamp: Ingo Maurer

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The living area includes a skylit ceiling. It is framed in a 7-foot level by a partial drop ceiling of fir that houses a halogen lighting system. “This architectural layout feature adds warmth and intimacy from the primary entrance area bridging the dining area, around into the living room, into the fireplace, and beyond to the decrease ceiling area over the kitchen,” states Roblin.

Birch seat: Alvar Aalto

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The property’s entry faces east, which Roblin states “provides a welcoming setting” The painting “Heart to Heart” from his “Icon” series hangs over a bamboo seat. The basket is derived from Indonesia. The floors throughout the house are French walnut, and the doorway is fir.

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A cantilevered black lacquered platform extends across one wall of the living room in front of the fireplace. “It functions as a display wall for artwork once the fireplace is not being used, in addition to a space for a collection of glass and ceramics,” states Roblin.

He adds, “Strategically put lighting is one of the principal concerns of house design where the objective is to feature artwork. We put windows and glass doors throughout to take advantage of the beautiful all-natural light.”

The black lacquered and leather Transat sofa seat is by mythical furniture designer and architect Eileen Gray and was created for her summer house in St. Tropez. It sits facing Roblin’s “Muse Study.”

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The fir-framed windows at the kitchen face the backyard. “The luminosity of the space is improved by white lacquered cabinetwork, stainless steel appliances and cooking island a green-glass-tiled walnut and backsplash Arborite countertop,” states Roblin. He also made the habit tongue-in-groove ceiling.

Refrigerator, wall oven, cooktop: Jenn-Air; suspension lighting over island: Artemide Kalifa

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The master bedroom features Roblin’s “Icon OM” and includes a seating area with a window into lush garden views.

Bensen Frame Hi mattress: Inform Interiors; black lacquer and leather armchair: Josef Hoffmann, circa 1910; Tolomeo floor lamp and ceiling fan lighting fixture: Artemide

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The master bathroom extends the silent Asian theme with porcelain tiles, white lacquered cabinets and turquoise glass tile. The painting is Roblin’s “Spa” from his “Wallseries.”

Sink and soaking bathtub: Duravit; mirror and glass-enclosed bathtub: Victoria Glass; vanity lighting: Artemide

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The classic Chinese water fountains is a family heirloom. A sliding shoji screen opens onto a Japanese garden.

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Roblin’s studio is quite a multifunctional space. “The mezzanine is the creative hub,” states Roblin, “since many of my original sketches for important artworks are done either in laptops or on my Mac in this area. A wall of bookshelves provides simple access to my reference books and CD files on design and artwork.”

He clarifies that the reduced area also has many functions. “I regularly use it as a research, a meeting place to show paintings to clients, or as a place to consider a newly finished work. When I have a particularly large painting project, the carpet is rolled up and the area is prepared for work.”

All the artwork is by Roblin: “Choreography” (above seats) and “Fountainhead” (at top of stairs) are from his “Spanda” series. Flanking the area, left to right, are “Barragan” and “The Conversation” from his “Wallseries.”

Stainless steel table: made by Roblin; bentwood lounge seats: Alvar Aalto; Color: Triede Design; couch/bed: Club Monaco

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The studio’s 14-foot square windows face north, providing Roblin with perfect lighting. He designed the garage, which leads to a paved courtyard with multilevel decks and a bamboo grove, for simple ventilation. Roblin frequently paints from the courtyard, but he works mostly on the studio’s concrete floor since he utilizes palette knives of different dimensions and requires a good backing.

Roblin’s painting “Barragan” is named after the well-known Mexican architect Luis Barragan. “I had been invited into his home and studio in 1984 when I had been in Mexico to get a Zen retreat,” he states. “Meeting Barragan, along with the meditation practice, had a deep impact on my painting clinic and my layout sensibility. Even the “Wallseries” paintings are a direct effect of the moving experience.”

In the front end of the room, an original ink drawing by Hans Hofmann hangs over the desk. “Hofmann’s artwork has ever moved me emotionally. His extreme application of color with brush and palette knife supported me and enlarged my vision as a young performer,” states Roblin.

Glass-top workplace: Ikea; workplace seats: Philippe Starck

More of Roblin’s work here

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