Daphne Nielsen has always had a singular notion about interior design: “I want each piece, each setting, to be unique.” That is why at her showroom, Once a Tree Furniture, located in a small mall area on Southwest Marine Drive, there are so many Canadian-made, artisanal items.
When asked about her store’s most popular pieces, Nielsen smiles briefly, then says, “There are no favourites, honestly. I make each season of each year different, so no one piece is ever around long enough to qualify as ‘popular.’” It is an interesting strategy, but it makes her offer of one-of-a-kind furniture and interior design objects something she can deliver, repeatedly.
Once a Tree is populated with individual pieces made by local artisans, sure enough, but with rigorously curated pieces from esteemed designers around the world as well, such as Texas-based Arteriors. Within the store these days is a special pop-up by the home furnishings company. “I kept on looking at this part of the showroom, and knew it would be ideal for a shop-in-shop,” says Nielsen. “And Arteriors is an ideal company to be first in line.”
The pop-up is a result of Nielsen’s understanding of what that specially dedicated space within the showroom could be, and a desire to showcase how singular her curated brands really are. “I met Mark Moussa at a big design show, and really admired him and his designs,” she says. Moussa is founder and creative director of Arteriors, and has a global reputation for innovative and graceful product. To see his Luna Lamp is to instantly want it for your living room, maybe even, more selfishly, for your den. And that is just one of the many light fixtures, coffee tables, vases, and more that Nielsen has gathered from the Arteriors catalogue. The point is to give the brand a kind of sharp focus, within the overall context of the showroom, and of course to foster creative thinking in assembling a house of furniture.
Nielsen sees it all as part of a whole. “We do often work with clients who want to furnish their entire home. I love that, because the challenge is to mix and match pieces, sometimes create completely new designs, for, say, a dining suite, and it all becomes one-of-a-kind,” she says. “That client is the only one on earth who has that furniture in that combination.”
While a certain set or sofa may be repeated in a display, the colours or finishes never are, so the showroom is completely different when the autumn and spring changes take place. Once a Tree is a fabulous, approachable, exciting place to explore interior design and furnishing options, and Nielsen is always there to write a new chapter with clients. “When we first began this venture, I wanted to never repeat things,” she says. “That would be boring, I think. What is exciting is to never do the same thing twice.”
More Design awaits.