For the past two years, Sudbury native Brian Richer has lived in an industrial loft conversion in downtown Toronto, surrounding himself with furniture and lighting that he has created as principal designer of multidisciplinary firm Castor Design. The 44-year-old, a trained stone carver, is also co-owner of Parts & Labour, a Queen Street West bar and restaurant where he recently hosted a party to launch his new furniture collection, Deadstock, and an album on which he explains his approach to design in between original compositions by local punk bands.
When he takes a break from juggling his various projects, he heads for his dining room, where he goes to recharge. "My place is one big room," he says, "but this part of it is my favourite because of the quality of natural light that floods through the windows."
"The table, which I made myself, is based on a 1950s Jean Prouvé design. Derek McLeod, a Toronto designer, helped me with it."
"This white bowl is by Tsé & Tsé, the famous French design company. I visited them when I was in France on vacation. I love what they do."
"The bungee-cord chair was a prototype we worked on a few years ago for Castor Design. The black one was designed by Komplot and is made out of rubber; it is one of my favourite designs. The Emeco chair was a gift from Klaus Nienkamper Jr., the Toronto furniture retailer. He shot it up with his guns at his farm, north of the city. The bullets are still lodged in it."
The light fixture
"The light fixture, one of our designs, is called The Tube Light and it's one of our top sellers. It's [hanging]in a lot of places right now, from the Facebook office in California to the Chelsea Hotel in New York."
"It's from the 1920s and features quarries from around Ontario. I used it to go look at these places and take samples of the limestone to make mortar in my kiln; I was a total mortar geek back then. Working on old buildings like Old City Hall and Queen's Park taught me that mortar selection is very important."
"This was part of my apprenticeship as a stone carver. I modelled it in plaster and then carved the plaster bust into marble. I despise it because it was so hard to do."
The side board
"I designed it with Ryan Taylor, my ex-partner at Castor Design. It's called the Strap Credenza and it never went into production. We now feel we should produce it, and I think we will. There are no fasteners on it and it packs flat."