Interview: Dan Menchions Of II BY IV Design

Keith Rushbrook (left) and Dan Menchions (right) founded their Toronto firm II BY IV Design in 1990 and since then it has been producing cool, almost space-age interiors for hotels, restaurants like Holt’s Café, and boutiques like Milli. As the pair recently opened their first studio in New York, we asked Dan about the synergy between commercial and residential designs.

H&H: Your firm has been named one of the world’s top 50 retail designers. What are some of the trends we can expect to see from our favourite restos and boutiques?

Dan Menchions: We actually see a shift happening from residential to hospitality. Mixed furniture pieces, various woods and neural colour palettes with pops of colours in accessories are all finding their way into more public designs than ever before. Spaces used to be really simple and a bit cold. Now we’re incorporating more detail with a variety of colours and materials for a warmer feeling. For a recent condo project at 30 Minto Roe, we incorporated touch points of colour throughout to make it feel like you’re walking into a piece of art.

H&H: Do you have a favourite colour or colour combination for 2014?

DM: Today my favourite is orange, but it is important to not be afraid of incorporating colour into designs. In your own space you should use whatever colour makes you feel good. Don’t shy away from using colours as accents as well — choose a base colour that’s more neutral and then use bright colours as accents in pillows, throws or art.

H&H: What’s a great way to incorporate bold hues for the colour shy? Is there a particular material you are bullish about?

DM: Right now we love colour tinted glass and mirror. This fits into the idea of having a feature wall which could be anything from a lacquered wall to back-painted glass. For the Minto project, deep teals and tangerine bounce off timeless neutrals. Try incorporating a winding staircase surrounded by coloured glass somewhere you might not expect it in the home — like leading to a finished basement.

H&H: II X IV designs always have a mod, futuristic look. How can readers add their own cool factor to their interiors to update them?

DM: It’s important to have people create spaces that reflect their personalities. We suggest purchasing items from your travels. This is a great way to make your home feel original and eclectic. Don’t go to one store and buy everything. Pick up things as you go along and let them represent a timeline of your life. Art is important and can provide a background to your space. Using the work of local artists is really important to us. Go out in your neighbourhood and pick up some pieces done by local artists to add depth and texture to your space. We recently collaborated with Fly Freeman on a wood and washi paper installation that flies off the wall with splashes of dense colour, and casts dramatic shadows in a long corridor and Maharam wallpaper.

H&H: What’s a source of inspiration for your designs?

DM: From movies to art to fashion to automotive to cosmetics. We really do draw inspiration from everywhere. Inspiration for a space can come from a photo, a piece of fabric, or a particularly striking pattern. We really promote travel internally — it’s mandated because we consider travel such an important source of inspiration. We all travel, so we’re always exposed to amazing spaces and amenities around the world, which really inspire our designs.

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