Inside the Colourful, Art-Filled Condo of Cable Magnate Jim Shaw
The Calgary pied-à-terre of a cable magnate is a showcase for artwork—and the colour orange.
Paul Lavoie faced one of the most daunting tasks of his career when designing this Calgary condo. Once the home had been renovated and just about every last piece was in place, the homeowners’ art collection arrived—in 60 boxes. “Usually when I’m working with clients’ art, it’s laid out around the room,” explains the Calgary-based designer. This time, he had to use a catalogue to find the right spot for each of the gallery-worthy pieces in a collection that includes works from Mary Pratt, Tony Scherman and Nicholas de Grandmaison.
The pied-à-terre has expansive views of downtown Calgary, but it wasn’t the vista that sold the couple—cable magnate Jim Shaw and his wife, Kathryn—on the place. “Mr. Shaw has one of the nicest art collections of any client I’ve worked with,” explains Lavoie, “and he chose this apartment because of its significant wall space.”
Given the art that would soon populate the walls, the temptation might be to go gallery white. Instead, Lavoie made colour and comfort his focus for the suite. “It’s really hard to make art and furniture match—as soon as it matches, it doesn’t look legitimate,” he says. “His art collection is so muted and comfortable—so I didn’t go pattern crazy, but I did go colour crazy.”
In many ways, the furniture feels as much a collection as the art itself—a mix of custom, current designs paired with some key vintage pieces. The result is a modern take on luxe ’80s—a space that channels an Yves-Saint-Laurent-in-New-York vibe.
In the main living room, swivel club chairs are covered in silver leather and can be oriented either to the view or back toward the living room. Orange is a colour theme throughout the suite, and here it’s seen on the Scandinavian-style chairs, covered in orange and grey silk, as well as in the quirky coffee table: split in a jagged line, its break point reveals a bright orange slash.
Kathryn Shaw was looking for a fun element to place in the nearby dining room; Lavoie obliged with faux-fur-lined chairs, both cozy and snug, paired with a vintage, sputnik-like pendant over the table.
The existing kitchen was a little too generic for the couple, so Lavoie continued the bold colour theme by sleuthing out oversized subway tiles in vibrant orange. (Mr. Shaw is no stranger to colour in the kitchen—his last place featured bright purple tiles.) The island gets a bit of wow, too: its front is papered in chrome metallic wallpaper covered in a layer of Plexiglas.
Perhaps the most dramatic room is also meant to be the most low-key: the comfy space is dominated by an extra-large, sun-kissed orange sectional (perfect for lounging in front of the TV in the evenings) surrounded by a dozen Nicholas de Grandmaison originals. Grasscloth lines the walls here and throughout the suite.
It’s the kind of space that results from years of the designer and homeowners working together—Lavoie has designed eight homes for the couple—and building the kind of trust that opens a client to bolder design decisions. “The bathroom is papered with a wallpaper that looks like a series of horizontal wood ledges,” says Lavoie, “and the ceiling is a gorgeous orange. It’s a great example of an excellent client—not everyone would let me paint their ceiling orange!”