Stanley Sun and Ashley Rumsey were “friendly competitors” during their years at Ryerson.
Internships at the same firms revealed that the two young designers had a complementary working style and a shared vision for the future. Mason studio was born.
What did you learn from your early work experiences at such places as KPMB, Burdifilek and Yabu Pushelberg?
Stanley Sun: We each worked at several places as interns and new graduates before starting Mason Studio together. Each studio gave us the opportunity to work on different types of projects, from local shops to commercial competitions, international hotel brands and fashion giants. Having the opportunity to work inside such reputable studios and travel around the world provided us with a tremendous amount of insight and ambition. We are forever grateful for the mentorship and training we received at each studio and are continually inspired and encouraged by their support of Mason as we grow.
What sets Mason Studio apart from other firms?
Ashley Rumsey: Our portfolio is a broad mix of projects that extend into every market, from single-family residential homes to large-scale hospitality work and exhibition design. Along with our client-based projects, our business is also based on a continual investigation of our own interests and a desire to create environments in collaboration with other disciplines. Our studio is always working on at least one self-initiated project that is based on experimentation and research. These explorations evolve and strengthen our design philosophies and values as a studio.
What philosophies or practices have been most essential to the growth and success of Mason Studio?
SS: We base our design solutions on understanding the problems to be solved. This starts with fully immersing ourselves in the needs and requirements of our clients. We research their company and the ways that they work and live to determine what they want to say to their guests or customers. The result is a design that speaks to the needs of the client and creates a unique experience for their guests. During our process, we constantly pare back elements from the design to see if the strength of the solution is maintained. Our philosophy is about making gestures that are rooted in intention.
What do you love about working in Toronto?
AR: Toronto is filled with talent. We constantly draw on the creativity and innovation that is happening in the city by being part of festivals and collaborating with other designers, craftspeople and innovators to support and learn from one another. While we are very much connected to the city and enjoy being part of its evolution, we also appreciate the ability to work in other cities across Canada and internationally. We find working abroad and across different Canadian provinces allow us to better understand our own sense of place here in Toronto.
What advice would you give to aspiring designers at Ryerson?
Liberate yourself from the need to be constantly creative and design totally original solutions. Being truthful and honest to the needs of the project will in itself create something unique and memorable.