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Influencer: Vancouver’s Interior Design Show director Jody Phillips

Every year, Vancouver’s Interior Design Show (IDS West) evolves and this year, virtual seminars and some in person showings kick off September 30, running until October 7.

Every year, Vancouver’s Interior Design Show (IDS West) evolves and this year, virtual seminars and some in person showings kick off September 30, running until October 7.

Every year, director Jody Phillips steers the popular event into new territory, all the while ensuring the show stays on solid ground.

Phillips, in her sixth year as director, creates all the programming, themes and direction while engaging with the local and international design communities along the way.

Last year, foot traffic numbers logged in well over 38,000 and “Design DNA” was the theme.

Phillips aims to have IDS appeal to a broader audience than just the interior design community, and the direction has gone more mainstream.

“I want to grow Vancouver’s design appreciation and literacy. I look to the general public and try to engage with them,” Phillips says. “I’m hoping that everyone can find something of interest there, whether it be a product, or just an idea.”

With an inclusive and hands-on approach to programming, Philips has supported forward-thinking initiatives at the show, placing Vancouver and the larger region on the international map, making IDS West the largest design fair in western North America.

“I’ve seen the event grow, but I’ve also seen the city grow. It’s been a really interesting five years for the city of Vancouver,” she says.

Philllips attributes the success to the IDS team. “I don’t do this alone,” she says. She also acts as an ambassador of Pacific Northwest Design around the world, and has curated and installed exhibitions profiling local works in Eindhoven, Los Angeles, Portland, and New York City.

Philips grew up on North Shore, and has her roots planted firmly in fine arts, painting and textiles, and has been active in the design industry since university.

She put herself through a fine arts degree at the University of British Columbia by working as a gallery assistant, after taking a studio program at Capilano University.

Phillips lives in East Vancouver, but spends most weekends in her family’s off the grid cottage on Hollyburn in West Vancouver. All of her interests are creative, and she takes joy in cultivating the burgeoning garden at her East Vancouver property.

Last year, the garden harvested a large garlic crop, and the property boasts blueberry bushes, fig trees, assorted herbs and brussels sprouts.

In her personal time, Philips paints mostly landscapes, and laughs that while she likes to begin paintings — actually finishing them can sometimes be challenging.

The married mother of three children is grateful for an “exceptionally supportive” family. “I don’t keep my work separate from our lifestyle — it’s very much a part of it,” she says. “It’s a huge juggling act, with seven, 11 and 13 year-olds, but we balance it by doing tons of stuff as a family.” 

She is part of the women’s leadership circle at Vancouver Board of Trade, which she considers a “passion project,” and plans to expand her role as an influencer, aiming to lead by example.

Phillips is also engaged in local philanthropic partnerships, and IDS this year showcased The Sense of Place exhibit, which features 14 original artworks by UK artist Emily Frost.

Commissioned by IDS Vancouver, and available for purchase, 50 per cent of the proceeds benefit Out in Schools, an award-winning local education program that uses film and video to engage students on issues of homophobia and bullying. And as IDS director, Phillips played a big part in that.

Phillips believes it is important to nurture creativity in students, and the Sense of Place Exhibit aims to connect students with design, and encourage them to explore the craft.

“It’s about engaging with the youth — I feel like it really starts with literacy and appreciation at a way younger age...and installing that appreciation that design
impacts everything.”