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Interior designer wins national award

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Erika Sammons has been named one of  Interior Designers of Canada’s (IDC) Top 5 Under 5 Emerging Interior Designers for 2013.

The 31-year-old Charleswood resident, who works at architect, landscape, and interior design firm ft3, is one of five interior designers across Canada to have earned the title.

In its third year, Top 5 Under 5 is a competition targeted at interior designers across the country who are in the first five years of their work experience. Each year, the IDC presents the competitors with a design challenge. The top five entries are selected as the winners.

This year’s challenge was to design a retail and networking space for the women of an organization called Women’s Education and Literacy Nepal (WELNepal) which provides education to women in Nepal.

"The design challenge was twofold: we had to create a space for the women to sell their agricultural goods, with a display space, storage space, and space to do the active selling, and then the second function was to create a casual space for learning opportunities," Sammons explained.

A complete stranger to the country of Nepal and the WELNepal organization, Sammons did a lot of research, which led her to focus her design on Nepal’s natural resources.

"It had to be culturally and socially appropriate," Sammons said.

The IDC provided the floor plan with which the contestants worked.

Sammons pulled up several images of her winning design, pointing out its elements.

"I was looking at creating a space with sort of flexible and porous boundaries," Sammons explained, pointing at various spots in the design on her iPad mini.

"Here are milk crates which would display their produce," Sammons said. "These are jute rope dividers where women could pull them back or forward, depending on the activities happening there."

Sammons said jute is common in Nepal, so she incorporated plenty of jute elements in her design. Jute is a long vegetable fibre which can be spun into coarse threads.

In addition to being named to the Top 5 Under 5, the winners also received an all-expenses paid trip to Toronto for the International Interior Design Exposition (IIDEX) which runs from Sept. 26 to 27.

Sammons said after receiving their awards, the winners take part in a panel discussion.

"The other exciting part is we get to be featured in Canadian Interiors magazine," Sammons said. "That magazine is one of my favourite magazines so I’m really excited about that."

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