The Kings of Transformation

“We live in the moment, while continuously thinking about how we can live in the future,” says Glenn Pushelberg

one-half of Canadian design powerhouse Yabu Pushelberg. Nimbleness and agility has helped organically expand their design narrative from a Toronto-based interior design studio, to a global, award-winning multidisciplinary practice, which straddles 15 countries, 80 products in various stages of design and development for 20 companies, and a staff of 125 spread between offices in Toronto and New York City.

Yabu Pushelberg’s hedonistic aesthetic has made them the darlings of the biggest luxury brand names in the world. They’ve left their indelible stamp with sumptuous interiors in cocooned environments, designing spaces where people feel comfortably “at home”. Their client list is enviable, stretching from luxe hotel brands such as The Four Seasons, Hyatt and Marriott to the largest names in retail, including Printemps, Lane Crawford, Barneys New York, Bergdorf Goodman, Louis Vuitton, Carolina Herrera, Kate Spade and Tiffany & Co. “We have cultivated and mastered the Yabu Pushelberg DNA,” explains George Yabu, articulating their futuristic, detail-driven vision, “creating deeply thoughtful, distinctive projects that are appropriate to where we believe the client should be, rather than where they are in the present.” Their beginnings were rather serendipitous.

The plush library and lobby at 1 Grosvenor Square, London, a project by Lodha Group

It was serendipity that brought Yabu and Pushelberg together for the second time. In the 1970s they had studied interior design together at Toronto’s Ryerson University and then lost touch. A few years after graduating, they bumped into each other on the street and decided to share a studio space together while pursuing freelance projects. For around a year they helped each other with their individual projects before combining their creative energies as a team, starting small with local gigs, the odd coffee shop and dry-cleaning depots. Eventually, they became work and life partners, an association that has continued for four decades.

The bespoke design at 1 Grosvenor Square, London, features top quality finishes and detail

“The word ‘timeless’ often comes up in conversation when we discuss our evolution in design, but we’re more focused on ‘timeliness’.” George Yabu

Yabu is the creative force with an eye for details, articulating the purpose of a project. Pushelberg is the interface between the client and the creative team, reading between the lines to help them understand what a client truly desires. The project that catapulted them into the big league was Canadian high-end casual clothing retailer, Club Monaco (now owned by Ralph Lauren), to design the hip label’s first ever store, in Toronto. The two created simple concept store environments that pushed the envelope: Playful, theatrical spaces where clothes were artfully arranged. A smashing success, they ended up bagging assignments across the globe, with several in Asia, too.
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