When it comes to the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), I don’t give a hoot about the celebs. For me, It’s all about the glam and sparkle of the spaces that are transformed for parties. This past Monday, I was lucky enough to shadow Andrew Bockner of Andrew Richard Designs as he set up a three-floor space for E1’s industry party for TIFF at the Royal Conservatory of Music. The building itself is simply stunning — a glass-walled addition has been built onto the original structure to create a fabulous open space that combines the old with the new, indoors and outdoors.
If you haven’t heard of Andrew Richard Designs, here’s the lowdown — Andrew Bockner and his brother Richard started the company as a way to make stylish and functional outdoor furniture accessible to everyone. Although their client list includes large name hotels around the world (Hazelton Hotel in Toronto, The Palazzo in Las Vegas, and Four Seasons Resorts to name a few), the designing duo also have ready-made pieces available for any customer to buy from their 12,000 sq.ft. store in Toronto. While the brothers have made their name in the furniture industry, they’ve ventured into designing event spaces as well, and Andrew spilled that they are planning to expand that division in 2011.
Upon meeting Andrew (shown above with colleague, Kate), I noticed he was cool as a cucumber — surprising, since all the furniture was still turned on its side and wrapped in packaging 5 hours prior to the party beginning. “I actually handle stress pretty well,” admits Andrew. “I make sure that when I’m setting up for an event, I don’t check e-mail on my phone. It’s distracting, and I like to be present and focus my attention on the project at hand.” No kidding — whether it’s a large star-studded event like this one or a residential party for 30, Andrew makes sure he has a hand in every project he puts his name on.
Let me tell you a bit about the space and how Andrew transformed it into a lounge fit for the stars. For the first level (shown above), Andrew put together a lounge area where all the guests could mingle. “My philosophy is to make pieces that are stylish and functional, not ornamental. I’ve arranged the seating here to be open and inviting, so that if you’re sitting, you’re not blocked off from guests who are standing.” The second level (shown below) is the VIP area and again, Andrew kept the space open. “I think that when you’re at a venue like this, with the floor to ceiling windows and a great view, you want to keep the inside environment airy, like the outdoors,” he says. The third floor was another lounge for all the guests, with a balcony that overlooked the second floor, giving everyone a glimpse at the celebs.
The party space turned out perfectly — simple, yet stunning. By the time I left, there were only a few things left to do — put on the tunes, flick the switches and create a mood. “Good music and effective lighting are the essentials to any successful party. If the music is bad, you notice it, but when it’s good, it becomes part of the atmosphere and lets you enjoy all the other aspects of the party,” Andrew says. “It’s the same with lighting. I personally hate overhead lighting — it’s all about sconces and under-lighting.”
I couldn’t have said it better.