Canadian design duo Samer Shaath and Kevin Chan of NIVEK REMAS (read it backwards!) are no strangers to the global stage. With 20 years combined experience, they strive to curate and explore the essence of the human experience in interior architecture. We chatted with the pair to find out what makes their partnership and process unique in the world of design. —Vita Daily
When and how did the two of you first connect? What has made your partnership endure?
Samer and I first met in university. We were both “studio rats” and shared a similar unique perspective on design, architecture, fashion and art. We both gravitated toward things that are strange, intriguing, but beautiful. What has made our partnership endure, I think, is two things: one is our love for design and problem-solving. Second is our dedication and work ethic. I think, to do this on your own, you need to be slightly sadistic, insane and very passionate.
Tell us about the services NIVEK REMAS offers. Also, define “interior architecture” and “design narrative” for us.
At NIVEK REMAS, we collaborate with our clients to create a strong concept and complete it to fruition. We are involved in every aspect from the interior architecture (the architectural language and planning) to the art and accessories. It’s about finding a strong design narrative (what the story is and defining the user and experience) and carrying that through in every aspect of the project. =
Retail versus residential design: do you have a preference (if so, why)?
We always say that we don’t have a preference in the type of projects we do—whether it’s retail, residential, restaurants or hotels. Because of our experience, we’re comfortable with any type of project. It’s more about finding clients who we share a similar style, aesthetic and outlook. Retail is great because we can create something that’s very experiential and high impact. But residential is also very satisfying to do as you’re helping clients create their dream home and creating something that’s timeless and tasteful.
How does each of your cultural backgrounds play into your work today, and your partnership? How does having such a unique combined global perspective strengthen NIVEK REMAS as a service provider?
Samer’s background I think naturally gravitates him toward a more dramatic, layered aesthetic, where I find my background lends me to a more minimalistic Asian aesthetic. We complement each other well as I work in the macro and Samer in the micro. Our experience with projects around the world has also provided us an eye-opening perspective into how to design for other cultures and work successfully in other socio-economic climates.
As a client, how would we engage your services, and what would the process look like from a high level?
No matter the size or type of project, the most important meeting for us is that initial meeting where we come to understand the client, their vision, their likes, their inspirations, etc. It’s then our strength to take that information and distill it into a concept that achieves what the client wants, but also something that surprises and surpasses their expectations.
What have been some of your favourite projects to work on, and why?
I think one of our most recent favourite projects is the Terrace residence—we were brought on early enough where we were able to replan the interior, do a full interior architectural concept and complete the design all the way down to the accessories.
Your proudest moment/achievement?
Planta Queen comes to mind as a recent achievement. We were able to create something really interesting that we felt didn’t look like any other restaurant in Toronto and that a lot of people could experience and enjoy. Moreover, we felt it really achieved what the Chase Group and David Lee we’re looking for, looks 95 per cent like our concept, and we completed it in a really short construction window.
Any future projects we can look forward to (even just a hint?!)?
Haha … we’re lucky enough to have some very interesting projects coming up. Two in particular come to mind: one is a conceptual barbershop with a prime location that’s steps out onto Dundas Square, Toronto. This will be complete by November this year. Second is a 30,000-square-foot residence/showroom/gallery in Caledon, Ontario. This will be a client experiential retreat of sorts, which will be completed by Q4 2021.