4117 St. Laurent Blvd., Montreal
Nestled between St. Laurent Boulevard's trendy nightlife strip and the bohemian 'hood of Little Portugal, Montreal's newest home-decor store aims to please a hip, design-savvy crowd that is fashionably in-the-know but decidedly on-a-budget.
The brainchild of brother-and-sister designers Thien and My Ta Trung, Domison already has some strong design cred. The siblings - Thien is 31, his sister is nearly 28 - are the team behind Periphere, the seven-year-old haute-style furniture label for which the precocious duo painstakingly produces one piece at a time - locally and by hand.
Currently, Periphere creations are only sold to retailers. But, as Thien explains, "people would come to us and say, 'Your stuff is so nice, but it's so expensive. Why don't you think about something that's more affordable.' So we thought, 'Let's do that.' "
Enter Domison, which opened less than a month ago and will carry their new, budget-friendlier brand of the same name.
The word is a blending of the French words domicile and maison, both meaning "house" or "home."
After settling on a high-ceilinged, 4,500-square-foot space for their showroom, the duo enlisted the edgy interior-design firm Blazysgerard to transform it into a sleek, industrial-style space featuring exposed piping, raw metal beams and polished concrete floors.
The entrance and cashier's workstation are panelled in glossy white Formica. Gingko Clouds, a white cut-paper installation by local design firm Paprika, dangles whimsically overhead.
Although it's My who has a degree in industrial design from the University of Montreal, big brother Thien, who holds a business degree from McGill, is the brand's official design director and also envisioned the space.
"Everything here is my design," he says, pointing around the room. "I drew this table, this bed. During school, I had wanted to follow a path with some security, so I went into management, but my heart was always in design."
The first items that local apartment dwellers are likely to gravitate toward are the low, Euro-sleek sofas perfect for smaller, urban abodes because they create the illusion of vertical space.
The City sectional ($2,970) is a white-linen-and-polyester L-shaped sofa with arms that swivel in and out "to create that hugging feeling," while the Uptown three-seater ($1,550) is a little more standard-looking but extremely elegant in black.
The beds, meanwhile, are also close to the ground.
The Domingo ($1,395) and the Paramount ($1,495) are both available in lacquered American walnut and are stained ever so slightly for a deep, rich look.
Other wood products on offer under the Domison label include massive entertainment consoles ($1,575 to $1,795), an office desk ($1,450), a buffet table ($1,215), a dining table ($1,275), chairs ($249 each), a dresser ($985) and a coffee table ($550).
In addition to its namesake furniture, Domison also carries a wide range of Canadian accessories lines, including eco-friendly cushions ($180 each) by Montreal's Looolo, decorative ceramic birds ($45 to $60) by Coe & Waito of Toronto, porcelain trays ($425) by Ontario's Jennifer Graham and beech wood digital clocks ($88 to $108) by Furni of Montreal.
Other products, such as the brand's hand-tufted carpet ($1,195) or candleholders ($45 each), are designed by Domison but produced by small hill tribes in Thailand. In all cases, the duo adheres to fair-trade principles.
Eventually, Thien says, the pair would like to expand the line. Next summer, for instance, they hope to offer outdoor furniture. The siblings also want to branch the Domison brand out to include other Canadian designers.
"It would be great," Thien says, "to have an outsider create a sofa or a shelf or a collection of dining ware. Right now, we are doing everything. And when you do everything, you know, you do a lot."