June 22, 2011This week we welcome renowned interior designer, Brian Gluckstein, to the BuzzTalk hive.

Brian is a sought after designer and the founder of Gluckstein Design Planning. His most recent high profile design projects in Toronto include the Four Seasons Private Residences and The St. Thomas. He also designed a line of lifestyle products at The Bay.

BuzzBuzzHome: Why did you choose a career in interior design?

Brian Gluckstein: I always loved design and architecture from an early age. My family was in the furniture business, so I was exposed to it. My parents were interior designers. There were a lot of factors that pushed me in that direction. My sister also studied interior design and she’s eight years older than me. I got to see her work and projects and decided that that was for me.

BBH: You graduated from Ryerson’s Interior Design program, how would you rate your experience there in terms of enhancing your skills?

Brian Gluckstein: I think that was critical to becoming an interior designer. The program was so comprehensive and really built a foundation for interior design. We look for graduates of the school to work in our office because a four year degree program gives you a comprehensive knowledge of design, construction, all facets of interior design and all the foundations of what you need to be a true interior designer.

BBH: If you had to pick one project from your portfolio that defines you as a designer, which would it be?

BG: It’s hard because you evolve all the time. I think what happens is your current project defines you at that time. I think that the thing about me is that I love so many different things. I like very contemporary architecture and classical architecture, it’s the same with interior design. And I’m able to work in all those different styles, so for me it’s a constant evolution.

I think if you’re really passionate about design, your design aesthetic evolves over time as you mature. That’s not to say it was more traditional, it just changes. Otherwise you’re just stuck in a rut and do the same things over and over again. I don’t want to try to emulate projects I did in the past, I want to look towards the future.

BBH: Did you do the interior design for your own home?

BG: Yes, I did. We took my house which was built in the early part of the 20th century and it was completely demolished on the inside and we redesigned architecturally and redecorated. It’s a completely different house than from when I bought it.

BBH: One recent big project of yours was the Four Seasons Private Residences. When you’re designing a project on that scale, what do you draw upon for inspiration?

BG: Well, I think there’s a few things. There’s inspiration in the architecture, so hopefully it’s good. You want to relate to that. You also look at who the market it is. You need to sit down with the team and really analyze who’s going to be our customer. What is their lifestyle?

So as opposed to designing in a vacuum, you’re really designing for the end user and pushing the envelope as far as you can do it for that user.

I think the inspiration [for the Four Seasons] came from who we think is going to live there, what the architecture was, and our desire to create an interesting aesthetic, which was a mixture of contemporary architecture with references not too far in the past, mainly 1920s and 30s French.

BBH: What was the dynamic working with the architectural staff on the Four Seasons. Is there such a thing as a typical dynamic when you’re working with architects?

BG: I think I’m lucky because the reputation we have and the knowledge I have — I bring something to the table. When we’re working with architects, landscape architects, and engineers, there really is a cooperation and a mutual respect. Everyone brings something to the table to make the project better. I have a great time working with architects because we push each other and have a lot of fun.

BBH: Is there a next hot area in Toronto? One that’s up-and-coming right now?

BG: It seems as though the whole city is evolving. We’ve got changing demographics everywhere. Definitely downtown, King Street East and West, the Waterfront is changing quite a bit. I think the whole downtown is changing.

I was talking to friends from out of town and we were downtown and they said, ‘the city is alive all the time, sort of like New York.’ It didn’t used to be like that 10 years ago. There were areas of downtown Toronto that, after 5 or 6, no one was around. We don’t have areas like that in Toronto anymore. We’re lucky, the city is quite vital. There’s the evolution of the core becoming a 24 hour, exciting destination to go to both as a visitor or to live in.

BBH: At the Minto project, The St. Thomas, you mentioned that electric cars really appeal to you. Why is that?

BG: Especially for people who work and live in the city or even commute, I think that they’re much more practical solution to the city. I’m looking forward to the day where we all drive electric vehicles. The traffic in Toronto is getting worse and worse. We’re starting to be like London or Los Angeles with the traffic coming in and out of the city. Something’s got to give. We can’t just have cars spewing out exhaust all the time.

Many of our clients are buying luxury hybrids and now we’re starting to see the beginning of electric vehicles. At The St. Thomas, there was a party for the electric car, the Tesla, and it showed there was no compromising when it comes to electric vehicles as far as sportiness, luggage capacity, seating and power. 

With gas prices the way they are, I don’t think it’s going to take long electric cars become the norm, not the exception.

BBH: Anything new and exciting that you’re currently working on that you can share with us?

BG: We have two new luxury projects in the works in Toronto and Florida. That’s going to be very exciting. 

Our houses — our clients are buying second, third and fourth houses around the world and that’s something truly exciting for us because you’re working with the same clients, but you’re designing spaces with different points of view. We design a project for a client in New York, or with them in Florida or London, then it’s quite different. You’re able to do, for one client, five houses, in five different cities and they all have completely different aesthetics. 

That’s very exciting and fun — to design some very traditional spaces and some very edgy, modern spaces and spaces with a beach house point of view. It keeps us on our toes.

BBH: In your opinion, what colour is in for 2011?

BG: Well I think colour in general is becoming much more popular. People are becoming much more adventurous when it comes to colour in fashion and home. We’re seeing a lot of very fresh colours, but it depends on the time of year. We’re seeing apple greens and oranges. Lavender seems to be one of the hottest colours right now.

For metals, gold is becoming very popular. There was a time when everyone wanted stainless steel watches and light gold jewelry, now we’re seeing the return to gold. We’re seeing muted gold, old gold, it’s much more subtle. You’re going to see that in hardware and faucets, just as you’re seeing it in wrist watches.

BBH: One final question, when you’re not doing interior design work, what do you enjoy doing for fun?

BG: I like being in my beach front home in Palm Beach, staring at the ocean or playing tennis. I also love reading.

Thanks to Brian for taking the time to buzz with us!

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