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Q+A: Keith Rushbrook and Dan Menchions, II BY IV DESIGN

(January / February 2013) posted on Mon Feb 18, 2013

An interview with BD's Toronto-based Designers of the Year.


By Matthew Hall

click an image below to view slideshow

How did you two first meet, and why did you decide to work together?

Rushbrook: We met through an industry rep who for years talked about how we should meet because our work was so complementary. Dan was offered a freelance project and asked me to help him. We sat at separate desks and when we went over our progress, the sketches were exactly the same—we had the same vision. When the recession hit in the early ’90s, we both lost our jobs and thought it was the perfect time to set up our own firm.

What’s the origin of the firm’s name?

Menchions: We knew right from the start that we didn’t want our names in the firm’s name. We wanted to build a business that was collaborative at its core—we foresaw a number of talented designers working in the studio on varied projects—and thought putting our names on the masthead seemed too proprietary to reflect what the firm was about.

II BY IV is a nod to the fundamental piece of construction lumber. In the early days we worked on a lot of nightclubs and loved the edgy look of the Roman numerals. However, at first, it was hard for people to find us because of the spelling.

What was II BY IV’s first project—and what lesson did you learn from it that sticks with you to this day?

Rushbrook: It was a karaoke bar called Sing Sing, for the owner of a popular comedy club franchise. What we learned was how to be innovative on a tight timeline and budget. The project got a tremendous response, was published and won our firm’s first awards. After that, we knew we could make this company work.

What’s currently on your boards?

Rushbrook: We’re working on many exciting hotel, cruise ship, food service, and new and re-imagined retail brand projects, as well as being at the forefront of Toronto’s booming multi-unit residential developments. While by contract we can’t name many current clients or particular projects, we are pleased to continue working with such companies as Centennial Hotels, Lindt, Virgin Mobile, Trump Hotel Collection, Thompson Hotels, Crystal Cruise Lines, Renaissance and Marriott.

Can you describe II BY IV’s basic design philosophy, and how it is reflected in the firm’s work?


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