Urbanism + Adaptation: Q+A with Barbora Samieian
Barbora shares her wisdom from a life of design, entrepreneurship, and urban parenting - and why she'll always call the city home.
as told to ENSEMBL
Barbora Samieian is a master of adaptation: shifting careers, and shifting cities. She immigrated from Slovakia to Vancouver at the age of twelve, moved to New York in her thirties, and now, once again is proud to call Vancouver home. Here, she’s raising her children and running two businesses, Field + Social and Sundays, where community and creative collaboration are at the heart of her work.
In this interview, Barbora talks with us about the idea of ‘home’, why she chose to raise four kids in the heart of the city, and her intentional approach to design.
Can you describe the first place you considered home? How does your experience living in two different cultures inform your understanding of what makes a ‘home’?
I feel very lucky to have felt at home in many different places. Growing up having spent my childhood years in Bratislava the city I was born in, our childhood apartment definitely felt like home. But even then, it was not my only home, I crossed the border twice a day to attend elementary school in an Austrian town, immersed in another culture and speaking German with my teachers and friends. My sense of ‘home’ further expanded when we moved to Vancouver with my family, it took a few years to feel at home and beyond spending time with my extended family to eating my favorite foods.
My husband and I moved to New York City in our early thirties for a few years and that also very quickly felt like home – I fell in love with the energy of the city instantly. While I’ve always taken interest in making each apartment or space feel like a home with little touches whether my art on the wall or cookbooks that have travelled with me, I have never been attached to any of the physical places themselves, just the memories of the moment in time that place held in my life.
“I have never been attached to any of the physical places themselves, just the memories of the moment in time that place held in my life.”
When it comes to designing spaces that foster community, how do you marry the physical space with the social and emotional one?
Community to me is about bringing people together to share inspiration and ideas, dream up new projects, building meaningful connections. At Field + Social that might be collaborating on menu development, or hosting a creative workshop in one of our locations. At Sundays, it might be designing a piece of furniture or hosting an event with some brands that inspire us. Some of my closest friends started as collaborators in our community – and when members of your community build friendships and connections my heart is so full. I recently had a full circle moment when one of our first creative collaborators, STUDIO BLOCK with Field & Social (almost 5 years ago) on a creative in the park picnic series, recently designed a collection for Sundays.
Can food make you feel at home?
Most definitely. I remember when we moved from Slovakia, my mom would bring back from her trips, Slovak mustard, our favorite treats and even flour so baking would taste ‘more like back home’. I still order my favorite childhood sandwich every time I arrive and leave the Vienna airport (a Kaiser bun with Schwarzwalder salami and egg salad), and one of my favorite restaurants in New York served Slovak food and was my go to ‘comfort meal’ if I needed a pick me up. Food is comfort and an expression of culture, and sharing food with others can make a house feel like a home. Maybe it’s why I love food so much, the fact that it can transport you instantly.
You’re raising your children in the city. Why was it important to you to keep your family urban? Do you have any advice for others who want to raise a family in the city?
We love to be able to walk out the door and head to a coffee shop, the market or a nearby playground, without having to hop in a car. I would say ‘do it’! Kids don’t need a lot of space (we live in a 3 bedroom apartment so the older and younger ones each share a room), being on one level has also been so practical with so many little ones as they go through the risky toddler years. We are also able to eliminate commute time, our office, school, daycare is all within a 15 minute radius of ‘home’, and whether it’s the local art gallery or a restaurant for date night, our favorite things also feel close by. We love the city and don’t see ourselves moving any time soon. Vancouver is also amazing in the sense that you can live in the city and have nature whether the seawall or the mountains a stone’s throw away – and we feel truly lucky to call this city home.
“We truly consider every object that makes it in to our home. Will it add function? Is it easy to store? Will it match the aesthetic of our apartment? Will it bring us joy?”
ENSEMBL is proud to count you and your family as early adopters of Stackware. Why does Stackware make sense for your life?
My family and I absolutely LOVE Stackware. It makes so much sense for our life – we live in an apartment with four kids under five, and truly consider every object that makes it in to our home. Will it add function? Is it easy to store? Will it match the aesthetic of our apartment? Will it bring us joy? Cooking for a family of six is organized chaos so the stackability of lids, being able to reheat and serve in the same dishes (and importantly easy clean up!) has been game changing.
We’re always thinking about is how we can live more consciously through the things we bring into our homes. Sundays, too, is very intentional about its furniture selection. Can you tell us a bit about your decision to carry fewer, high-quality pieces?
Yes, I love that about your brand! We want furniture shopping to feel like a Sunday morning – there is an ease and a beauty to Sunday mornings isn’t there? We consider how each piece will fit and work together within our collection, but also stand on its own – is it made with quality, solid materials? Can it be multi-functional so it can evolve with you as your life evolves? Sustainability and the life cycle of furniture is something we think about a lot – how you will be able to refinish a solid wood table, or add to a modular unit when your life shifts rather than getting rid of it. And of course, design is core to what makes it into our collection. Does it combine beauty with function? Is it a timeless design and finish? We started with a small living room collection and are slowly expanding to other categories, but our goal is to continue to carry a well-curated, limited selection of pieces.
Top 5 ways to spend your Sunday?
- Coffee ‘to stay’ at one of our favorite local coffee shops .
- Walk to Granville Island to pick up ingredients for dinner with our family.
- A solo moment – a run or leisurely stroll.
- Beach playdate with the kids and their friends.
- Dreaming up our next trip.
What’s one item in your home that you can’t live without?
My mini French press and currently 2 Baby Bjorn bouncers for our twins.
What’s one motto, catchphrase, or quote that you keep in your back pocket?
Life is short – do that thing that you’ve been meaning to do.
What makes a space, or a place, a home.
Art, music, and the smell of delicious food on the stove.
City or country?
Coffee or tea?
Wine or cocktail?
What’s one hobby or pastime you hope to pass down to your kids?
Love of art and swimming.
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