Haute Style, High Life

In the highly competitive Toronto condo world, it’s all about standing out from the crowd. In the mainstream market, it might come down ultimately to price (and to some extent, location), even more than amenities and design, however attractive they may be. But in the higher end, you’ve got to be a little more creative.

In Cresford’s current trio of projects, MYC (Merton Yonge Condominiums), Casa II and Casa III, they’re doing a little fashionable name dropping to attract the eye of buyers, and enlisting Brian Gluckstein and his team to help them pull the look together. In the common areas and penthouses, Gluckstein Design’s interiors will feature a selection of works from international fashion houses, ranging from fabrics and furnishings to overall designs that will capture the image and signature look of these great brands. Hermès, Missoni Home and Lema have already been announced, and the company has done previous projects with Fendi, Armani and others. “In all the buildings,” Gluckstein says, “we’re looking either to partner with a special fashion brand in the common areas, or with others, using elements such as furnishings, accessories, fabrics, textures, and so on.” The penthouses will also have recognized brands such as Sub Zero, Wolf, Gaggenau, Kohler, Waterworks and Scavolini kitchens as standard features.

Gluckstein has been working with Cresford since the 1990s, when he designed a model suite and other common areas in the Merchandising Building. One of the first heritage commercial buildings in the city to be converted into industrialchic modern lofts, it was quite fashion-forward when it was launched.

Carrying the image of a fashion house through a whole\ building (as opposed to commissioning a famous fashion designer to design the lobby, say, as with Karl Lagerfeld’s recent commission for Freed) is, in a way, part of a larger trend whereby the lines between interior design, architecture and fashion are becoming increasingly blurred. “It used to be that trends in fashion took about two years to cross into home design,” says Gluckstein, “but now it’s almost happening simultaneously.”

From the fashion houses’ point of view, there’s also a branding aspect that fits perfectly with the concept of, to coin a phrase, designer buildings. “Many fashion brands are seeking to get into the domestic (products) market, whether it’s through bedding or furnishings,” Gluckstein continues. “The consumer today is so into fashion that it makes perfect sense. Ralph Lauren is a perfect example of a fashion designer that branched into home design, and now it’s a major part of their business.”

The air of glamour continues into the penthouse designs. “We’ve got some interesting finishes we’ve packaged for buyers, so they have some choices they can either mix and match, or just go with what we’ve suggested. But they are much more distinctive than the regular condo offerings,” Gluckstein says. “The kitchens, for example, are a little edgier than most standard kitchens. We’re working with Scavolini, for example, which is quite modern, with beautiful lacquer finishes and woods, very much in keeping with the style of the buildings; it’s a very clean European look.”

It used to be that trends in fashion took about two years to cross into home design, but now it’s happening almost simultaneously. Many fashion brands are seeking to get into the domestic products market

— Brian Gluckstein, designer

But while Maria Athanasoulis, Cresford’s president of marketing and sales, acknowledges that luxury brands have star power, she says it’s about much more than just dressing to impress. “We discovered over the years that these brands like Scavolini are timeless,” she says. “They don’t go out of style. Even with buildings that were done several years ago, they look like they were designed yesterday, which is important to us.”

Casa II, located at 42 Charles St. E., currently showcases the deepest involvement by a fashion label; the lobby and amenities are being furnished by Missoni Home. The penthouses of Casa III next door at 50 Charles E. are still being finalized, but the lobby will feature furnishings by Hermès. MYC, a little further north, will feature furnishings from the cool, minimalist Italian furniture brand Lema.

It’s worth mentioning that the two Casa buildings are a stone’s throw from the highend fashion retail houses of Yorkville and Bloor Street’s Mink Mile, so it’s the perfect place to drop a designer name or two. Although their immediate surroundings on the east side of Yonge just south of Bloor are, to say the least, not quite so glittering, the construction of the buildings forms part of a $3.8-million revitalization of the whole block between Charles and Hayden that will include new streetlevel retail and restaurants.

While buyers will have the freedom to select their own finishes, as with any new building (and if you want to bring in your own designer or select offmenu choices, there’s no reason why you can’t), what makes the penthouses at these buildings unique, says Gluckstein, is that by choosing a home in one of these buildings, you’ll be able to blend your own style and taste with a identifiable look that’s part of the character of the building as a whole.

Whether we’ ll be seeing Ralph Lauren condos one day is uncertain, but in renderings, the designs for the Cresford penthouses are striking. “It’s a more expensive way to do a building, of course,” acknowledges Gluckstein, “but it’s quite distinctive.”

Casa II Signature Penthouses (casa2condominiums.com) range from 966 to 1,756 sq.ft., and are priced from $969,000 to $1,899,900; Casa III (casacondominium.com) penthouses range from 1,000 to 1,200 sq.ft., and are priced at $799,900 to $1,199,900. MYC (MYCcondo. com), which has just been completed, has two penthouses still available at $869,900 and $1,749,000, at 1,022 and 1,881 square feet respectively.

National Post,
By Martha Uniacke Breen