George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg in their New York residence, photo by Thomas Loof
The dynamic design duo, George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg, have propelled retail and hospitality design to towering heights by always 'thinking outside the box'. Both from ordinary beginnings, Glenn (originally from Kitchener, Ontario) attended Ryerson Polytechnic College for design, where he met George Yabu (from the Cabbagetown district in Toronto, before it was hip to live there). Upon graduation, they each pursued design on their own by freelancing, until a few years later, by chance, they met on a Toronto street in the upscale Yorkville area. They discussed renting space together, and eventually, they became partners in work and in life.
Their big break came in 1984 when they were hired by Joe Mimram and Alfred Sung for design of a new Toronto store called Club Monaco. Their fresh energy and enthusiasm was unbridled. Club Monaco became an international chain, and it was here that Yabu Pushelberg transformed retail design from chrome racks and patterned carpeting to the concept of store as a lifestyle, using props and theatrical lighting against a raw backdrop of stained cement floors and neutral hues to compliment the artfully displayed clothing.
Over thirty years later, with offices in Toronto and New York, this Canadian pair is among the world's leading luxury hotel and retail designers, with numerous accolades: the Platinum Circle Award for hospitality design, the prestigious James Beard Foundation Award for Excellence in restaurant design, named Designer of the Year by Contract magazine, and they were inducted into the Interior Design Hall of Fame. Their client list includes the W Hotels , the St. Regis Hotel in San Francisco, Bergdorf Goodman New York, Tiffany& Co., Neiman Marcus, Kate Spade, Victoria's Secret, The Hazelton Hotel in Toronto, the Four Seasons in Tokyo, Las Vegas' MGM Grand, and they are currently working on the posh Ritz-Carlton in Vancouver, scheduled to open in 2011. They have turned down projects of equal prestige; tired of department stores, they decided against taking on the refurbishment of Paris's Galeries Lafayette. Here are just a few photos of YP's brilliant work!
Yabu Pushelberg's residence, photo by Thomas Loof
The Hazelton Hotel Toronto, photo courtesy The Hazelton Hotel
Some Key Elements of the YP look:
-transparent or semi-transparent applications of glass, mirror, plastic or resin
-stylish furniture, often with clean lines
-unusual cabinetry or ironwork from local craftspeople
-experimentation with materials
Le Meridien Minneapolis photo courtesy of Le Meridien
W Hotel New York Time Square, photo courtesy Studio Annetta
W New York Time Square, photo courtesy Evan Dion
Opus Hotel, Montreal, Canada. Photo courtesy of Wallpaper Magazine
Tiffany & Co., Wall Street, photo courtesy guestofaguest.com