Interview: Debbie Travis for the Calgary Herald


The Rousseau set by Debbie Travis, courtesy Sears Canada

The Rousseau set by Debbie Travis, courtesy Sears Canada

I had the privilege of interviewing the lovely Debbie Travis for The Calgary Herald. Here’s my story.

http://calgaryherald.com/life/homes/condos/tuscan-inspired-style-debbie-travis-launches-outdoor-living-furniture

Tuscan-inspired style: Debbie Travis launches outdoor living furniture

Tuscan living is all about the “al fresco” lifestyle — long, languid dinners on the flagstone patio, a glass of wine with lunch, candles burning down as the conversation flows late into the evening.

We can’t all make it to Tuscany. But design guru Debbie Travis is doing everything she can to bring Canadians a taste of la dolce vita with her new line of Tuscan-inspired patio furniture, rugs and dishes.

“I feel so great when I’m there, just the people and the way of life and the food and the sunshine,” she says. “It’s about the day-to-day sweetness of life.”

Travis’ recent projects have revolved around her villa in Tuscany — first refurbishing it and then creating a glorious, comforting space for all-female retreats with her show La Dolce Debbie. Now, the woman who made her name with the Painted House series says she plans a full line of home furnishings, bedding and accessories — starting with the patio.

“Tuscan style is not so much about wood table tops and wrought iron,” she says, leaning forward to admire the clean lines of her new patio furniture, set up in the middle of Sears at South Centre Mall. “It is, but it’s also about al fresco dining and living outside, and simplicity. And looking at this (furniture), it is simple.”

The pieces have modern touches that make them suitable for condo spaces and are made with ultra-modern materials.

“You have to have decent quality because of a harsh winter,” she says. “And also, family, kids, you know. Kids are kids, so they’re climbing on the sofa, they’re sitting with wet bathing suits, whatever. Things need to be practical, so we looked at some of the cool new materials.”

Travis points out the open-weave fabric on the sleek Chelsea set.

“On the fabrics, they dry 85 per cent faster than any fabric, and the foam, too. And what I love about that is, you know the soggy bottom thing — you forget to bring in the cushions and all your guests are walking around with a wet bum. This doesn’t happen.”

Travis has gone out of her way to make the pieces suitable for the harsh Canadian climate. The Rousseau table is a super durable resin that will resist Alberta’s sometimes hail-prone summers and hold up well during winter storage. Both the Rousseau and the more modern-looking Chelsea are sleek and compact for smaller spaces like the decks and courtyards of condos and townhomes.

“The Chelsea is designed for small spaces like condos,” Travis explains, showing how the pieces slide together for storage. “Then the cover goes over, and the entire thing is the size of the loveseat. It’s quite clever.”
The Rousseau is a little more robust with its weathered-wood look and wrought iron base.

To complete the look, Travis offers a selection of “breathable” rugs made from a lightweight weave that allows moisture to evaporate off wood decks.

The Debbie Travis line is sold exclusively at Sears.