Brian Gluckstein: Transforming Houses into Homes
With more than three decades of experience in interior design, Brian Gluckstein celebrates the release of his new book, Brian Gluckstein: The Art of Home.
You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who’s not familiar with design mastermind Brian Gluckstein, whether from his exquisite product range available in Canada, Europe and the United States, GlucksteinHome, or from one of the impeccable spaces he’s created and curated with his business, Gluckstein Design.
Having worked for more than 30 years in the industry, Gluckstein has become one of the most highly regarded interior designers out there — but this wide recognition was not always the case. Not only because it took time for Gluckstein to amass his skills, but also because, when he was starting out in this industry, the public was not familiar with the role of an interior designer.
“They thought it was all decorating, and they didn’t [understand] the difference between an interior designer and a decorator,” says Gluckstein. “They thought an interior designer picked fabrics and picked paint colours and that’s it. They didn’t realize we … do space planning and millwork details and design entire interiors of common spaces — partitions and layouts and lighting and electrical and the finishes and the furniture. Of course, the decorating, also, but it’s a very comprehensive scope.”
Since then, Gluckstein has revolutionized interior design, showing people the possibilities they can achieve in their own homes and workspaces.
His love of interior design began in his youth. “I didn’t grow up in a house where they furnished it once and it stayed like that for 40 years. I definitely was in an environment where my mother wanted things changed and updated, and different points of view all the time,” says Gluckstein. “It was traditional when I was young, [with] beautiful colours, then it went modern; my parents went very contemporary and very neutral, so it was all creams and beiges and chocolate browns and chrome.”
Having design influences within his home, including an older sister who studied interior design at Ryerson University, as he himself would go on to do, Gluckstein was exposed to design that other young people may not have been aware of. This influential upbringing fostered in Gluckstein a love of design, homes and building that he has shared with the public during the course of his career.
“A successful process is when you really understand your client and you understand their lifestyle”
In fact, before the existence of the television channel HGTV, which made the inner workings of the design world into household entertainment, Gluckstein was, and continues to be, a regular guest on the talk show Cityline , introducing viewers to new concepts and tips, and cementing the importance of interior designers.
Now, Gluckstein will be educating people and showcasing interior design in a whole new way with his new book, Brian Gluckstein: The Art of Home, a Globe and Mail national bestseller. An avid reader, Gluckstein has a love affair with coffee table books that feature beautiful design. In his own personal library, he has hundreds of such books covering topics from architecture to antiques. The format of these books inspired his own.
“I looked at the books that I love and that I reference by designers who inspire me, and said, ‘If I can do a book that looks like that while also giving insight into how those houses came about and what my point of view is in creating them, then I’ll do it,’” says Gluckstein. “It was two years of work, of photographing homes all over North America and writing the book and editing the book and setting it up graphically.”
The book showcases 10 beautiful homes, including Gluckstein’s own home in Toronto, giving readers insight into these breathtaking projects, with plenty of photos. “I’m a person who likes to see as much as I can of a space when I’m reading a magazine, and sometimes I read a book or magazine and say, ‘I wish I could see the rest of the house.’” In his own book, Gluckstein supplies the photos we all crave while also supplying readers with the necessary information to really understand what goes into creating these spaces, from conceptualization all the way through to final touches.
The book illustrates how Gluckstein and his team tailor each home not only to its geographic location, but also to its owner. “A successful process is when you really understand your client and you understand their lifestyle, because different people have different lifestyles; they’re different ages, they have different family dynamics, they have different interests as far as esthetics go, so you have to subtly interview your clients,” says Gluckstein. “I ask my clients what they don’t want, and we eliminate that from the list right away. Then we start to develop, knowing what they don’t want and who they are as a person, then we create the esthetic. We first start with the function of the space and how the space flows, how the use of the space is going to work from an architectural standpoint, then we get into furniture and finishes and the decorative parts.”
One common thread running through all the spaces, though, is Gluckstein’s point of view. As the common denominator between each home, his touch and style are evident. “I have a lot of experience doing this, so I’m really there to sort of edit things down, focus them, expose them to wonderful things; I’m sort of a designer and the editor … I’ve got to edit it down and say, ‘This is what we’re looking for, this is the style, this is the finish, this is the use’ — things like that. I understand their lifestyles, so I’m guiding them through the whole process. I make it very easy for them,” he says.
He included his own home in the book to give people an inside look at his own personal style. One aspect of design that he loves (and is apparent in many of the homes, as well as his own) is the history of furniture, as expressed by antiques.
“I love furniture from all different periods, whether it’s French or Scandinavian or Italian, whether it’s from the 18th century or the early 20th century. I think there’s a soulfulness in furniture and accessories and art that has age to it. I think there’s a story to everything, and sometimes I look at a dining room table that’s 200 years old and think about the people who sat around it and the dinners and the conversations …
I find it very interesting, the whole concept of antiques, and I do like to bring them into spaces. It adds personality to a space,” he says. “Anybody can go to a store and buy furniture, but you really have to curate a house to get that soulfulness.”
From antiques to patterns to flooring, the decisions in interior designing are endless, but with a seasoned professional like Gluckstein, nothing is impossible. Now, with his book, he will be able to reach an even wider audience, sharing his talent and passion for interior design with everyone who’s interested.
“Anybody can go to a store and buy furniture, but you really have to curate a house to get that soulfulness”
“I hope it inspires people to really look at their environment and spend the time to create something that is meaningful to them, that is comfortable, that represents who they are, that they love being in, that they love entertaining in,” says Gluckstein. “You can have a house, but a home is something different.”
Whether you’re looking to redecorate your own home, to learn more about Brian Gluckstein or to simply enjoy some beautiful visuals, The Art of Home is the perfect book to flip through casually or to sit down with and pore over.