With our new location opening this week, we take a moment to sit down with Mason Studios, the award-winning interior design firm headed by Ashley Rumsey and Stanley Sun.
In this Be a Villager, we learn how good interior design stands at the junction of art, graphics and technology.
VJ: Five years ago, Mason Studios was born. What made you start your own company?
SS: I think we wanted to challenge ourselves. There was so much potential in the city and we just wanted to break out of it.
AR: When we first started, we didn’t take it too seriously. We just wanted to follow our intuition. We thought, “If it works, then great, if not, then we can find something else.” I guess that’s the flexibility of being young. It gave us the chance to give it a try.
VJ: Why did you choose the name Mason?
AR: There are three main reasons. The first represents the support of our families.
SS: Both of our grandfathers are stone masons. They were hard working, came from humble beginnings and they enjoyed what they were doing. So it represents that history.
AR: The second is that the word mason respects the foundation and the built environment. And lastly, we wanted to pay tribute to the stone masons who are the very people who build our work. They put our concepts and designs into something real.
VJ: What makes Mason so unique?
SS: We believe design is a response to simple issues and we look at fundamental problems. Our designs have a purpose, they stand for something. They’re not just a response to aesthetics.
VJ: What project are you most proud of?
SS: We did a conceptual design space for the Interior Design Show. It was the first piece we ever did together. The final solution was a really strong reflection of our work. It set the tone for Mason. We got great response from the community and it validated what we were intuitively thinking.
VJ: This is your second project with Village Juicery. Why do you enjoy working with us?
AR: Village Juicery is the quintessential client. You have a great message and a strong identity.
SS: You truly believe in what you’re doing and not trying to latch on to something. It’s authentic – we like to see that in our clients.
VJ: Do you have an ideal client?
SS: There is no ideal client. We like to align ourselves with people with the same approach to life and the same vision. We push out the energy we want to get back. And we think it’s working.
VJ: How do you define success?
SS: We set out goals for ourselves and look at them every couple of months. We try to celebrate milestones and tangible goals and we’re constantly re-evaluating them.
VJ: What are your favourite places in Toronto?
AR: I like Hole in the Wall in the Junction. It’s got good food, good people. I spend time at Kensington Market and markets in general. And I just like how Toronto neighbourhoods are unique. I feel like they’ve magnified themselves over time.
SS: I’m an aimless wanderer. I like admiring how different Toronto architecture styles can all thrive in the same city blocks and yet still maintain their identities.
I am big on brunch, I find myself going to the White Brick Kitchen often. They make a great banana bread French toast.
VJ: Take us through your typical day.
AR: Our days aren’t that exciting. We’re either in the office or on-site. It’s not very glamorous work. We’re in Excel a lot. We’re in Outlook a lot. It’s a lot of coordinating and making sure all the pieces are in place at the right time.
VJ: How do you manage to stay sane and find centre?
AR: For me, it’s coming to an understanding that the work is never complete. I have to remind myself that I need to stop and take a break.
SS: Staying organized. I have my agenda. I need to write it all down. I depend on lists and checkboxes.
VJ: Name five things you can’t live without.
SS: My agenda, podcasts, purging – and what I mean by that is not being held down by things, travel and Americanos.
AR: Also my agenda, contacts, music, lattes and the combination of my house in the country and my city apartment.
VJ: What’s your favourite juice?
AR: Be Clean
SS: Be Green