After losing touch in the years after graduation, George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg would later have a serendipitous run-in on a downtown Toronto street corner, changing everything.
They’ve been partners in life and in work for over 35 years and their design firm, yabu pushelberg, is one of the most recognized in the world.
How did your experience in Ryerson’s Interior Design program contribute to or shape your career path?
There was a tremendous camaraderie amongst the group that had a certain frisson. We felt very strongly that our first year was about unlearning preconceptions we had of design, and that the subsequent years were about acquiring new knowledge and skills and the ability to understand and look at things differently.
What project do you feel really helped Yabu Pushelberg break into the industry?
In 1985, Club Monaco was one of our first internationally recognized commercial commissions, then our work with Holt Renfrew opened up the department store world, and subsequently Bergdorfs in 1999 helped put us on the map in New York. And so on. This continues to be true — we continue to have landmark projects that open new doors and lead to other opportunities. It really has been a cumulative process.
What’s behind the longevity and success of your partnership?
Thank you. Like any good relationship, either working or personal or familial, communication is key. We are certainly not perfect, but spending time to create a good relationship is not without its rewards.
You established a scholarship for student designers at Ryerson. What inspired that?
We believe it is important to give back and to support causes we believe in. Design education is one such cause. There were many people who helped, supported and guided us at different points in time and we hope to do the same.
What advice would you give to aspiring designers enrolling at Ryerson?
Have determination. Take chances, especially in school, where you can take all the chances you like.