Beyond Beige: Off The Wall ArtPublished on September 10, 2007

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  • Designed by Ottawa’s Wall Juice, this leafless-tree silhouette is a sample of the strong statement the company’s innovative wall tattoos and murals can make in your home.

  • Sarah Moffat, pictured here with the gold metallic walls she created for the Heart and Crown on Preston Street, says her applications are perfect for high traffic areas.

  • Dave Cherry (right) and his business partner, Adrian McKeague, say Living Walls are surprisingly low maintenance additions.

Are you wondering to do about your drab walls? The trend for fall is to toss the semi-gloss and go for texture, shape and vibrancy. Three innovative Ottawa companies are making their mark in 2007 with radical - yet accessible - interior design techniques. WALL JUICE

What do you get when you mix one of the most user-friendly household surfaces with large-scale print materials and the amazing talents of a team of Ottawa graphics designers? Wall Juice! The brainchild of Jason Hawley - a reputable graphics designer with an aversion to painting - Wall Juice boasts three avant-guard products inspired by the commercial printing industry. Jason can take any picture you want, any size you want, print it on vinyl, and stick it to the wall (or you can easily install it yourself). The vinyl murals and wall tattoos are chic, original and totally removeable. "When my wife and I bought our house in Barrhaven earlier this year, I just couldn't bear the thought of getting the rollers out," says Jason. "We had so many big walls, plus a nursery to decorate." So Jason did what any do-it-yourself decorator would do: He got on the Internet and started brainstorming with his colleagues around the water cooler at Hawley Signs & Graphics. He realized he already had the skills and the access to large-scale printing equipment to develop something truly innovative in home décor. A month later, Wall Juice showcased its vinyl murals and wall tattoos at the Ottawa Home and Garden Show and a booming niche market was born. Wall Juice's murals are vivacious and colourful and the vinyls can cover the wall, the ceiling, even an entire room. And they can easily be removed or relocated, which makes them perfect for decorating nurseries, rental units or any room with a limited lifespan. But the tattoos have become Wall Juice's most distinctive offering. Smaller than murals, the tattoos are vinyl cut outs that can act as a focal point without being overwhelming. Wall Juice's signature tattoo is a leafless-tree silhouette. It's black, understated and ultra-modern. "The tattoos are really the most unique aspect of what we do," says Jason. "It's really geared toward anyone who has a large wall space, and wants to do something really innovative and classy." But you can as easily tattoo a set of oversized cutlery on your kitchen wall as apply a tiny cherry-red sports car to your teenage son's bedroom door. Because Wall Juice can custom design, the possibilities are endless. SHOWCASED AT: - RBC in Barrhaven (Strandherd Drive) - Wall Juice Showroom (2684 Fenton Rd.)

MOFFAT BAILIE WALLS

Sarah Moffat has distinguished herself as an artist of impeccable authenticity. Having made a name for herself as a master in glazing and Venetian plastering techniques, the owner of Moffat Bailie Walls now specializes in gold and metallic leafing. "I wanted to extend my originality by bringing a unique effect to areas that need that extra pizzazz," she explains. Leafing is a delicate process. It's an ancient tradition of applying microthin metal to a surface. Once reserved for small accents, Moffat has pushed the application to its limits, covering entire walls, ceilings, even doors. The effect is stunning. Fine lines floating on a subtle shimmer add a richness and an instant timeless quality. The texture can be understated to meld with sleek, modern décor, or more pronounced to give a classic, antiquated effect. "Pink, purple, turquoise, even hologram effects, the foils go through the whole spectrum in the rainbow," says Sarah. "You can get any colour you want." The metal adds warmth and allure through brilliant reflection of light. So versatile is the product that Sarah has recently selected some of the pastels to redo her daughter's bedroom. And it's durable, which has led to a demand for Moffat-Bailie Walls to showcase work in upscale restaurants, even in high traffic areas. Sarah recently installed a copper ceiling in a ladies washroom. "Foiling can be done anywhere," she says. "It's really worth working with a designer to plan out where it fits in your overall renovations." SHOWCASED AT: - The Heart and Crown on Preston Street - Siam Bistro on Wellington - Absinthe Café on Wellington

LIVING WALLS

Green is in this year, and the more eco-friendly, the better. Living Walls is a cutting edge technology that allows you to turn your interior wall into a tropical garden. Imagine dozens of low-light tropical plants literally growing out of your living room wall. Living Walls is the product for anyone with a green thumb and a penchant for the next big thing. "It's gardening," explains Dave Cherry, co-owner of Job Done Construction in Orléans and the first licensed installer of Living Walls in the capital. "You're gardening in your house on the wall." A 50 by 50 centimetre plastic panel, made up of shallow plant cells, complete with its own irrigation system, is mounted on the wall in such a way that the dirt won't fall out. The plants grow towards the light, then escalade or drape down with gravity. The beauty of Living Walls is that it's entirely natural and low maintenance, so it can fit with any room and any type of decor. "Having been in construction for so long, I realized there's a lot of waste and bad design," Dave says. "I'm a new dad. I want to invest in construction that is going to improve the environment." Living Walls can be installed inside or outside, but the big trend right now is for people to improve indoor air quality, while at the same time providing a unique focal point. "It goes hand in hand with greening urban space a bit more," Dave says. The cost is $100 per square foot with all the plants fully installed and a built-in irrigation system. Job Done Construction offers a follow-up maintenance package with a guarantee to ensure the plants are thriving in the indoor environment. "As with any new product, it's a bit expensive right now, but I think the costs will go down," says Dave. "Think of it as a luxury item, more like a piece of art." SHOWCASED AT: - Bridgehead on Dalhousie and Guigues (near the ByWard Market) -- Photography by Darren Brown




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