It’s not often one comes across an architect with a Production Design Team Oscar on his CV.
The Academy bestowed the award upon the team the best in the motion picture industry in Hollywood. Michael Shocrylas was a member of the design team [working as a Set Designer] that created the sets for the 2002 film Chicago.
As a budding-architect-turned-set-designer in Toronto, Shocrylas designed everything from jail cells and spaceships to transforming the streets of Toronto into the streets of Harlem and Chicago for films such as The Incredible Hulk, X-Men, and Blues Brothers 2000.
The film industry allowed him to view design through a unique lens.
“It exposed interior design as it relates to real life and how exteriors are an integral part of the design as an experience,” says Shocrylas.
But 14 years and 42 films later, Shocrylas decided to take on a new role. In 2007, he and his family headed west to Calgary where he fulfilled a goal of setting up his own firm.
As owner and principal of Michael Shocrylas Architect [formerly sho-arc Bureau of Architecture Inc.], Shocrylas creates timeless environments and settings for real-life characters. His experienced and fastidious eye considers more than just the big picture. Whether it’s an equestrian facility, a resort or a one-of-a-kind residence, Shocrylas orchestrates every first and last detail - from the placement of the walls and windows to the curation of art pieces and the perfect pair of slippers.
The entire process involves his intuitive ear to not only listen but to unravel what a client actually means.
“For a film a set, you analyze the character and you imagine what they would have and what they would live in,” says Shocrylas. “But for a client, you ask them and you help them decide on the life they most desire. For me, it’s about preparing spaces to improve their lives and make it more efficient and more enjoyable.”
Natural light and airflow are both vital elements in Shocrylas’ designs.
“For me they are the connection that I seek in every space,” says Shocrylas. “I follow a long tradition of modernists seeking to frame vistas, light our spaces naturally and remain connected to our natural environment. I design my landscapes to be as loose and natural as possible with a nudge to establish outdoor rooms.”
Shocrylas also views his work as a narrative in artistic or mathematical terms.
“I revel in taking on complex work and sorting it out in novel ways,” says Shocrylas. “For me, getting to the point where I could combine art and science with the outward expression of my thoughts and ideas has been my most important achievement and liberation.”