There are all kinds of gorgeous, high-end stores in Toronto that I’ve never blogged about because frankly, if I can’t afford to shop there, what’s the point? But I’m making an exception with Avenue Road, partly because there’s such a buzz about the place, partly because it’s so darn beautiful and partly because it was designed by hometown boys George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg whose stellar work is the subject of a gorgeous, newish coffee table book (Architecture/Interiors Press), above right.
Avenue Road is housed in a century-old generating station on Eastern Avenue not far from Broadview. The space took more than a year and buckets of cash to overhaul but the effort has paid off handsomely. A light-filled atrium was created through the centre of the building giving the space an airy feel that allows the merchandise to really breathe.
And what merchandise! Sumptuous vignettes spill over three floors and 15,000 square feet. Some of the items have to be custom ordered but Avenue Road proudly trumpets its Stocked selection of pieces that are ready to wrap and go.
Unless you call Rosedale or Forest Hill home, the prices will probably make you dizzy. But after surveying Yabu Pushelberg, it’s clear that the couple — they’ve been personal and professional partners for 30 years — prefers a less-is-more approach provided it’s steeped in luxury. So what if the Vladimir Kagan Sculptured Table (below) is $5,390 — you’ll never need another coffee table and it will still be chic enough for your children to fight over when you’re gone.
Yabu and Pushelberg’s personal taste is extremely modern and incredibly refined judging from their three homes featured in the book. Clutter is anathema to the pair; their private residences boast clean lines, clean walls and lots of room to breathe — much like Avenue Road (where the designers have a partnership interest).
In addition to the stripped, contemporary aesthetic, each YB space features at least one organic wood piece (a nod to George Nakashima?). “We found all the furnishings and art over the period of eight or 10 years,” offers Yabu. “We’d travel for business and then stay on for a few days and look at shops and galleries and just store the things, not knowing how it would all come together but it did.”
In addition to their homes in Toronto (below, photo by Ron Baxter Smith), New York (above, photo by Evan Dion) and Miami (bottom, photo by Ron Baxter Smith), the couple is presently building an oceanfront house in Amagansett on the south shore of Long Island. It’s a wonderful life filled with travel, satisfying projects and very big budgets.
The designers have resisted residential work for years saying there’s too much babysitting and hand-holding involved. And anyway, who needs residential work when you’ve got 15 or 20 hotel projects on the go and are booking two years in advance?
If the fabulous furnishings at Avenue Road are out of your financial reach, then consider a copy of Yabu Pushelberg, which retails for about $80 CAD. It’s one way to bring the YP allure home without breaking the bank.
Avenue Road images by Chris, Yabu Pushelberg residence shots by Ron Baxter Smith (Toronto and Miami) and Evan Dion (New York).