Julien Armand has a truly outstanding collection of chairs. Lucky for you, high-end furniture-buyer, they're displayed dramatically up the height of the showroom's walls. Just look up; no shuffling required. Unfortunately for you, high-end furniture hopeful, they're probably out of your price range.
In a huge warehouse space in the Sterling Road lofts, Julien Armand will be ready for the public in a matter of weeks, just as soon as the several-month-long renovation of the formerly raw space is complete. This will be the newly named Canadian company's first showroom, managing director Arash Malekzadeh tells me, likely expanding its client base from hoteliers, restaurateurs and designers to include individual homeowners .
"This is Julien," Arash says, reaching for his iPhone. "I'll show you."
He fiddles with the screen and turns it toward me, showing a picture of a boy about 11 or 12. I wasn't sure whether I was supposed to question him or laugh, so I sat silent for an awkward moment or two before Arash jumped in to clear it up. "This is Julien," he says again, "and his mother owns the company."
Indeed, Julien Armand the name of a kid, not a brilliant high-end furniture designer, yet he loans his name to a collection quickly gaining ground as a leader in Canadian modern classics.
I take a quick tour around the space, taking in the various forms of fiberglass, leather, solid wood, and stainless steel. The showroom is a haven to soft edges and sleek design. Though chairs are clearly Julien Armand's focus, the collection includes wood dining tables, combination cabinets, fabric- and leather-upholstered bed frames, and several low back sofas and sectionals. One of my latter favourites--a camel leather sectional--quickly caught my eye, and Arash informed me it can cost upwards of $10,000. Ah well, next time.
"Obviously our prices are higher than you'll find at a lot of other places," he says. "The difference is the quality, the style, the design."
While a full set of chairs could easily set you back several grand, many of the chairs boast such unusual design that they could easily stand alone as a single investment (~$500 and up) piece to serve as a focal point. The Henry Bertoia asymmetrical wire chaise (think wire catcher's mitt with a leather cushion) is just one such example.
Arash says he expects new items to appear in the showroom every three months, and regular operational hours will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. six days a week. Julien Armand is certainly a great place for unique seating, even if the prices leave you floored.
Photos by Jesse Milns