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The Globe and Mail

Tu Ly's 2,000 square feet of raw industrial space

For the past decade, acclaimed Canadian fashion designer Tu Ly has been living inside a two-level loft in the Creed Building, a refurbished 1960s-era fur vault in midtown Toronto. Never one to shy away from a design problem, the creator of a signature line for Saks Fifth Avenue as well as Team Canada's uniforms at the past three Olympics took what was originally 2,000 square feet of raw industrial space and made a home and workspace for himself and his partner, Marc Garand. "I love the flow of the space," Ly says of his studio, where he is currently working on the fall advertising campaign for Ports 1961, the fashion brand of which he's art director. "There are lots of windows that wrap around curved corners, so the studio feels open and airy. I find all that natural daylight invigorating to work in."

1. The Vancouver 2010 Olympic torch

"I ran the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch relay in Port Alberni, B.C. It was a surreal experience but also the proudest moment of my involvement with the Olympics. We as a nation did very well at the games. We triumphed. Designing the team uniforms was a highlight, of course, but running the relay was even more of a thrill."

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2. The photograph

"I adore jumpsuits; I grew up seeing my mother in jumpsuits. The one in the photo is made from a bordeaux matte jersey. The photographer, Canadian Nigel Scott, insisted that the model put on my black ankle boots for the shot, which gives the photo its edge."

3. The vault door

"Marc and I call it the Mascot. We rescued this 1940s relic, a decorative element from the old storage hold, during the construction of our unit and repainted it with a metallic Ralph Lauren paint to bring back its original lustre. Everyone always asks us if there's an actual vault behind it when they come over. Can you imagine if it did open up to a private room? That would be amazing!"

4. The doors with porthole windows

"Our art deco doors were also salvaged from the original building. We found them as a pair in the rubbish bin. As soon as we saw them, we knew we had to have them. They have so much architectural character - I can't imagine the studio without them."

5. The sofa

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"We had it customized at Elte in Toronto and asked for the striped fabric to be upholstered horizontally. The norm is usually vertical. I love how it matches the vase on the bookcase next to it by Caleb Siemon, a young surfer and hand-blown-art-glass artist from California."

6. The bag

"I'm a bag addict. And I never travel without my Goyard Boeing carry-on, a special birthday gift. It's embossed with my full name, which makes me love it even more. The colour is white so it gets marked and soiled quite easily. But Goyard in Paris will restore their bags in a couple of days for no charge."

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