The Thursday Q&A with CKY Design Group
When life as solo entrepreneurs got lonely, interior designers Carrie Colton, Karyn Watson and Yvonne Potter got together to create an untouchable design force they called CKY Design Group. For three years now, they’ve been working as a team, collaborating on the things they love, and enjoying the creative world of interior design together. The trio took some time to relax and speak with Style intern Laura Green.
OCS: Who are your style icons?
Carrie Colton: I love Alexander McQueen. One of the reasons I mentioned him is because it’s not just fashion, it’s also that I love that he brings theatre and history into his work, and I like that his design is more than one thing.
Yvonne Potter: Tom Dickson.
Karyn Watson: Yabu Pushelberg. They’re my mentors. They include a lot of art in their custom wall treatments and installations, and I think that’s a direction that really inspires us to bring art into living spaces.
OCS: Mac or PC?
All: PC! Definitely PC!
OCS: Favourite websites and blogs?
YP: Colour Me Happy.
YP: Mine is also Yoox! I look like I’m working hard but I’m usually shopping!
OCS: Best recent fashion find?
KW: Orange jeans.
YP: My Wonder Woman ring from Austria.
CC: A new pair of white leather ballet flats from Globo.
OCS: Your biggest fashion faux-pas, when, where and how?
CC: In a small town, I can’t even begin. You should see some of the photographs from the 70s, when I was in high school. I thought Arnprior District High School was my runway, and I used to have on like velvet suits and badly permed hair.
KW: I can mention my holey socks. It’s when you have to take your shoes off (at a client’s house), and it’s like “Oh my God, how did that get there?!”
YP: Can that be mine too?
OCS: Person, place or thing that makes you proud to live in Ottawa?
YP: Pierre Luke. He owns Galerie St-Laurent + Hill.
CC and KW: Yes! Pierre Luc! We love Pierre Luc!
KW: And I’d have to say my daughter. And my other one is moving back here so that makes it even better.
CC: Also for me, it’s the National Gallery of Art.
OCS: Best restaurant in Ottawa?
All: Black Cat Bistro! (Potter’s husband owns it; Colton’s husband is an investor.)
OCS: Favourite piece of furniture?
KW: Brand Van Egmond light fixture.
YP: B and B Italia sofa
CC: The two things I want most, next, is a Montauk sofa and I also want a flou bed, or a custom bed.
OCS: Favourite home accessory?
CC: Art. For me, décor is my artwork. I never have flowers. I love them, but I never have them. I don’t like plants, so it’s got to be art.
KW: Lots of flowers. Like BIG flowers.
YP: Plants! I like trees.
OCS: Qualities you admire in a person?
All: Honesty, loyalty, compassion and humour!
OCS: Fine dining or plain-old diners?
CC and KW: Yes, both.
OCS: Who would you invite for dinner if you could choose anyone in the world, living or dead?
CC: Coco Chanel. She’s my go-to girl.
KW: Charles Rennie Mackintosh. [I want to talk to] designers back then, how they got to design those incredible spaces, who their client palette [age, demographic, means] was and how they sold their work to a public that was uneducated at that time. Or were they more educated?
YP: Cindy Sherman. She’s a photographer who always dresses up in different personas.
OCS: Favourite food?
CC: Popcorn. My husband’s a gourmet chef so he’s going to be very upset that I didn’t say one of his many, many wonderful dishes.
YP: The Toblerone shortbread cookies that Karyn makes.
KW: My husband’s Chicken Marbella.
OCS: Wine, beer or both?
OCS: White or red?
CC: Red. I like both but I prefer red.
KW and YP: Both!
OCS: Favourite visual artist, living or dead?
CC: Gerhard Richter.
KW: I’m going to say Eryn O’Neill. She rocks.
YP: I really love Damien Hirst.
OCS: Favourite local artist, if different from above.
YP: Eryn O’Neill
CC: Oohh, so many, but I guess I’ll say Andrew Morrow.
KW: Shannon Craig
OCS: What’s on your bedside table?
CC: My Kindle.
KW: My reading glasses, sitting on my “nose”. I have this little nose that my reading glasses sit on. That, and a lamp.
OCS: Best book you read in the last year?
YP: It’s called Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. I’m reading it now, it’s really good.
KW: I start books and I don’t finish, but this time I started a book on my last trip (to Mexico) and I finished it. It’s called After the Falls by Catherine Gildiner.
CC: I’ve read a lot of really good books, but I guess what kind of resonates is that I just finished a biography of Mick Jagger by Mark Spitz (Jagger: Rebel, Rock Star, Rambler, Rogue). He’s a really good writer. It was as much the history of music as it was (about) Mick Jagger.
OCS: Most often played song on your iPod?
KW: I would say mine’s Adele, anything like that’s just on there all the time. Adele and Leonard Cohen.
YP: I just put it on random, so I don’t really have an answer for that one. Usually whatever Richard Terfry from the CBC has on.
CC: Usually we just constantly have music on, and I don’t listen to an iPod. We have a lot of CDs that we put in all the time. When I’m up at the cottage, what I put on most is Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black.
OCS: What is your guilty pleasure?
KW: Reading all the expensive design magazines at Chapters. I’m guilty, I buy a coffee (at Starbucks) and sit there and read them. I will take pictures of things in the magazine that I like.
CC: Oh my, where do I start? My guilty pleasure is too embarrassing to admit, so I’ll just say good wine. All my closest friends know what my guilty pleasures are but I don’t want it on a website!
YP: Mine is Entertainment Tonight.
OCS: Favourite place to spend time?
KW: I was going to say at home, with my family. I love being here, too. There’s got to be a balance.
CC: Yeah, I think we all feel that our studio and our homes are our favourite places.
OCS: Describe your perfect day off (it could be anywhere in the world).
CC: For me it would be walking through downtown London, England. There’s so much culture and history. There is so much cutting-edge art that’s going on and that is really cool, but then there’s 1,000-year-old history and architecture put up right next to it, so it’s really exciting.
YP: Ditto for me, but Vienna, for the same reasons that Carrie just said. It’s so culturally rich with the old and the new, and the art. So we all love big cities.
KW: I like taking a camera with me, and just getting images of something different and inspiring. I like to have a camera so I can capture it and go back to it.
OCS: What is your earliest memory?
CC: I have an early memory, but I’m not even sure…you remember it when you were younger and then as you get older, you don’t know if it was really a memory or something you created. I have this memory of standing in my crib in a white dress, and my dad coming and picking me up out of the crib.
KW: I remember getting stung by a bee when my brother told me it was a butterfly, and to go catch it. I must have been three years old, and I remember saying “I got it!” then “Ouch!”
YP: I remember falling off a slide and having to go to the hospital because I broke my collar bone. I was like two, and my dad was supposed to be taking care of me and I fell off a slide.
OCS: What is your proudest moment?
KW: Seeing my children succeed. Watching my children grow… I’m proud of my children, because no thanks to me, they did well!
YP: I think graduating from Carleton University. That’s definitely one of them. I think I cried that day, at the graduation.
CC: There’s a lot of different things that I think of that I’m really proud and excited about, but to be honest, the thing that made me feel that real emotional pride was when my son had his “flying up” ceremony in Grade 6. He won the leadership award, and it was for being a mediator between the “bullies” and the “weaker kids”. His teacher gave a talk about how Zachary would use humour and wouldn’t pick sides. I just remember flushing with pride. I could just burst, I was so proud.
OCS: How would you like the world to remember you? What would your eulogist ideally say?
KW: That’s pretty heavy stuff. I don’t really venture that dark, and it’s not in my personality. I enjoy living in the day, so I’m going to decline.
CC: I don’t really know; I don’t really care. I mean, it’s not like because I’m a designer and an artist, but I never think “I hope my work is in a museum someday and that people will read about me”, I mean it would be nice, but it’s not important. If people were at my funeral I’d hope that people would be saying that I was just a really kind, warm, funny woman.
YP: I agree with what Carrie said, but I would at least want to add to the planet, as opposed to subtract. In a good way.