Today we’re buzzing with Alex Donovan, half of the dynamic design duo behind “design and lifestyle emporium,” Bentley Flanders in Toronto’s Corktown neighbourhood.
Alex opened the store with business partner Jack Lochhead in June 2013 and since then have attracted plenty of discerning shoppers to their impressive 8,000 square foot showroom at 573 King Street East.
Prior to opening Bentley Flanders, Alex worked as the Creative Director at 1212 Decor and Jack was the General Manager of Ridpath’s.
We chat with Alex about the origin of the design destination, what you can find there and design trends for fall 2013.
BuzzBuzzHome: How did you both meet and begin to collaborate?
Alex Donovan: The business of high end furnishings is a small world and as such we were aware of each others’ work. Through a mutual associate in the field we were brought together to discuss the possibility of a partnership where our mutual vision for a new showroom could be realized, the likes of which Toronto has not seen. Our design sensibilities were quite similar and our business strengths were well matched.
BBH: Why do you find interior design so fascinating?
AD: I live and breathe design daily. I studied fashion design and art history. Like Haute Couture I envision interiors with the same sense of detail and panache. Elements that we come into contact with daily are not just essentials but design opportunities. I am acutely aware of my visual space and how it makes me feel. I want to express who I am personally through my home. As such, I am drawn to other peoples interior design challenges, enthusiastically employing my sense of colour, eclecticism and style to suit a clients’ needs.
BBH: Tell us more about the genesis of the company. When did you open the Bentley Flanders store?
AD: The company evolved quickly once we initially met to discuss. The name of the store evolved while talking about our favourite companions at home, our dogs. Bentley was Jack’s Cocker Spaniel and Flanders is my Bichon Frise. We officially opened the doors on June 21st, 2013.
AD: There are many fabulous offerings so it is hard to choose. We have exclusive art glass from Europe as well as incredible hand blown mercury glass objet in the forms of famous iconic buildings from around the world. We have also received some exquisite Theodore Alexander furnishings which include designs by the Keno Brothers. Bontempi Casa offers condo scaled tables, chairs and beds that are budget friendly while being functional and handsome at once.
BBH: Do you carry anything that you think would fit especially well in a compact condo? One that’s under 850 square feet?
AD: Bontempi Casa from Italy is scaled perfectly for the current small space condo living here in Toronto. Most lines that we carry are customizable and therefore can accommodate any room size and configuration. Small spaces can be well furnished and functional without compromising good design. We offer in house design assistance for our clients in order to evoke their personality and afford them the comfort and functionality they desire.
BBH: What are the hot design trends of 2013?
AD: Colour is by far the biggest trend along with verbose patterned fabrics to accent any space. Even the most demure palette can use a dose of colour. As with fashion, colour blocking and layering of pattern add interest to even the most minimalist of environments.
BBH: Any design trend predictions for Fall 2013 or 2014?
AD: Transitional design will continue to prevail but with a nod to the traditional and early classic design work of the mid century such as Milo Baughman. The ultra modern aesthetic will be less antiseptic in its approach as seen with European designers bringing an eclectic mix to the clean lines that prevailed these last couple of years.
AD: It is imperative in this day of instant information gratification that we keep our clients up to date with what is trending in our showroom. It isn’t enough to plan an ad layout and wait for it to be printed. Streaming what’s new today on a continuous basis with repetition is without a doubt the key to engaging the consumer who has an increasingly busy lifestyle and less time to spend shopping in the traditional sense.
BBH: The most important piece of furniture in the house. What is it?
AD: Your bed, since a third of your life is spent here. A comfortable sofa and a good dining table as well. For me all three are equally important for creating a solid foundation for your home.
Thanks for buzzing with us Alex!