Designer duo

Araina Bond
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When Janet Villeneuve calls someone's style "drool-worthy," people sit up and take notice. The fact that she's referring to Joy Zaczyk, the other half of the style-savvy blogging duo Moggit Girls, shows the respect and mutual admiration behind the two women's 37-year friendship.

What once was the only coach stop between Kingston and Montreal is now the home to Joy Zaczyk, who is a co-conductor calling out decorating train wrecks in the world of design.

This irreverent design duo first started their blog as a comprehensive online magazine. The name is a combination of the words ‘magazine' and ‘blog'; they chose moggit ‘mog' was already taken. They quickly realized that the most visited part of their site was the "fugly" page, which uses humour to showcase designs from around the world, ranging from the absurd to the downright disturbing.

When they they launched moggit.com, it was because the two friends honestly thought the design world was taking itself a little bit too seriously. They wanted to inject a little light-heartedness and fun into what was becoming a rather serious medium.

Whether it's a sofa made out of stuffed animals, a coffee table filled with live eels or a wall-mounted bovine head, the Moggit Girls call designers on their pretentions, and they do it with style. Each post, a single photo with a laugh-out-loud caption, speaks for itself - but they never name names.

The only thing more surprising than the weird and wonderful designs they track down is the sheer number of them. Up to four times a day, they post photos of man-trap beds, chairs that look more like torture devices than places to rest and disturbing accessories like limp paint-brush wall hooks and Barbie doll chandeliers. A clock that has complicated mathematical formulas in place of the numbers one through twelve, bears the simple caption: That kept us up in high school, and it still gives us nightmares.

What started out as a fun project for the two friends quickly developed into an online sensation that has these two women from Cornwall, Ontario, weighing in on style and décor on the Nate Berkus Show, Skypeing into Oprah Behind The Scenes, and also doing social media and panel moderating for Home and Trade Shows. They also shared their fresh approach to design in 15 webisodes for HGTV.com.

"Doors have opened up for us in ways we never thought possible," Joy says. The years of friendship mean their day-to-day operations behind their wildly successful blog runs smoothly.

On a typical day, they have a conference call in the morning to go over what needs to be done after they get their kids off to school. They share the task of posting on their blog and answering emails, though this always changes depending on the day and what they have on their plates at the time.  

"We love teamwork," Janet says. "It's always nice to have that person who will fill in for you when you need it."

This cooperation results in a blend of their two styles and personalities. While Janet describes herself as a book smart, Tony Bennett-loving, red wine snob who drives painfully slow, Joy is the street smart, fast-driving Stephen Tyler fan.

When it comes to style, the two seem to relish their differences as well as their commonalities. Joy describes her own style as modern/antique with a touch of exotic. She likes to mix old with new and is heavily influenced by Moroccan design right now. "I would describe Janet's style as traditional/classic. And I love the way she mixes vintage finds in clever and unique ways," she says. "It never goes out of style."

Janet, of course, agrees. "My ideal style is classic, with a touch of modern, but warm and inviting à la Barbara Barry. My imaginary dream home is filled with her designs," she adds, while admitting that raising three kids means that in reality, her current style leans towards a mix of contemporary with vintage touches.

She has high praise for Joy's unique style: "I love her home - it is so warm and inviting, and I love how she is moving towards a more exotic, ‘Marrakesh' kind of sensibility."  

Although there's no doubt that Joy and Janet have cornered a niche in the design market and their popularity is on the rise, the two women are all about having a good time. They admit to having a lot of fun with their work and never take themselves too seriously. For them, it's about enjoying each day as it comes and feeling blessed to be able to do what they love.

Geographic location: Kingston, Montreal, Cornwall Ontario

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