Somehow, Queen Street West, Toronto’s answer to Manhattan’s Soho, seems just the right setting for an international success story like this one:
Decades ago, Gina Lubin and her husband started a glass studio downtown, one that would evolve into a furniture store. The couple began turning out original wrought iron pieces, but frustrated with the Canadian dollar’s exchange rate, they decided that retail was not their cup of tea.
So they moved to India.
“We started doing sand cast hardware there,” Lubin says. “But it was an uneven process, and we couldn’t produce enough, even though it did become popular with the showrooms.”
So they moved to China.
“We decided to try die casting,” she says. “We wanted modern and updated.”
Now they’re back in Toronto with their boutique firm called Du Verre, commissioning designers from around the world. Each develops new ideas to be cast into hardware that’s made solely from sustainable, recycled aluminum.
Their designers include the gifted William Harvey from Brooklyn, as well as Interior Design Hall of Famer Clodaghand and uber-modern Goodman Charlton of New York’s Hotel Marcel fame. Each is paid royalties on the designs; there’s no cherry-picking of anybody’s designs.
“Their work has to be pretty soulful,” she says. “I have to be attracted to it.”
Du Verre creates the prototypes, then turns drawings over to CAD technicians and sends them off to a factory in Sem Zhen in South China. There, the raw cast pieces are die cast and finished by hand.
“They’re highly subjective products, and hardware that we like,” she says. “It’s not readily available everywhere.”
All of the finished pieces are shipped back to the U.S, to a fulfillment house in Brooklyn, making distribution easy for Du Verre’s 300 dealers.
Du Verre’s work can be found in private residences on the West Coast in particular, but also in Texas, Florida, Chicago and New York. Then there are the luxury hotel chains – like Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton, Wynn, and W.
That’s fairly heady stuff for a firm with just a half-dozen full-time employees in one of North America’s biggest cities. But their core commitment is solidly intuitive:
“We just try to please ourselves, then attract people to our designs,” she says.
Perhaps it’s just a matter of the right amount of push and pull.
For more information, go to http://www.duverre.com/