Design Experts

Inside design: Brian Gluckstein

Style at Home
Design Experts

Inside design: Brian Gluckstein

In home decor circles, Brian Gluckstein is synonymous with refinement. His designs grace public spaces, such as Toronto's Four Seasons and Windsor Arms hotels, and condo projects across North America. His retail lines include home furnishings and accessories for that touch of Gluckstein glamour at home.
We asked Brian about decor over the past decade.

ID-Gluckstein-inline.jpgSTYLE AT HOME: Can you comment on the design highs and lows of the past 10 years?
Brian Gluckstein: Some might look at the '80s and say, "What were we thinking?" It was an era of decadence, of being over the top with everything. The '90s were a reaction to that. We pulled back quite a bit, maybe even too much, but they were great years for design. We had a recovering economy, and when times are tough, people are cautious about their spending -- they buy conservative, timeless pieces. After 9/11, the mood became more sombre and restrained, but it was for a surprisingly short period.

S@H: So how would you describe the mood that prevails in the design world today?
BG: When people are doing well, there's boldness -- hemlines get shorter, jewelry gets glitzier. The same is true at home. Because we've enjoyed a period of economic prosperity and optimism, we're seeing more colour in our spaces. Our decor is also more adventurous. Pairing an English piece with an art deco item used to be considered eclectic. Now we're much more experimental, say, mixing 19th-century French items with retro '60s pieces and Italian modernism. We're having fun with hot trends and colours. Yes, homes still have signature pieces by established designers, but they're a little more sparkly now than in the '90s. I use this analogy: every woman has a little black dress, right? In the '90s, she paired that dress with black pumps. Today, she's wearing it with Jimmy Choos.

S@H: You talk about how the economy affects the decor aesthetic. What else influences our collective taste?
BG: Environmentalism has become a major focus. There have always been people with that kind of social consciousness, but for homeowners there simply weren't a lot of green choices in home construction and design. Now, whether the motivation is pure or driven by marketing gimmicks, there are more manufacturers developing environmentally friendly materials and sustainable, renewable products. And an increasing number of people want healthy homes and a healthy planet.

S@H: We can't talk about the changing face of design without mentioning technology.
BG: Technology has had a bigger impact on home design than anything else. We all need technology, but it's becoming smaller and more discreet, freeing up space and liberating designers somewhat. Flat-screen televisions, for example, have revolutionized the way we lay out a room; we can hang the TV on a wall and get it out of the way. With smaller stereo equipment, the TV and stereo no longer have to be the focus of a room. Wireless control systems allow you to change a room's ambience effortlessly. LED lighting means you almost never have to change a bulb; it's an emerging technology that will eventually replace the lightbulb and help reduce waste. These are things that make your life better and your space prettier. But technology is a double-edged sword for many people. For example, wireless networks make it difficult to really escape; your e-mail follows you everywhere.

S@H: What does the future hold?
BG: I hope the green trend continues and that people embrace it. I'd like to see more homes that consume less of our precious resources, are healthy and nontoxic, and don't compromise the planet.


Image courtesy Arido
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Inside design: Brian Gluckstein