Buy Local: Johnson Chou
Architect and designer Johnson Chou pulls up a seat and chats about what he’s working on and where he’s going this summer
Photography by Naomi Finlay
When architect Johnson Chou was charged with outfitting Blowfish’s super luxe second location at the Bay Adelaide Centre, he created the Kissen dining and bar chairs. Perched on the slender chrome legs, the cantilevered seat appears to float, while its puffed leatherette upholstery nods to the dramatic scalloped forms found throughout the restaurant.
DL: What are your summer plans?
JC: I’d like to develop our product designs. Along with the Kissen chair, we also have lines with Nienkämper and Aya Kitchens. But I would like to expand our collection to more varying scales and disciplines.
More recently, we were asked to design a food bank, The Exchange, for Caledon Community Services (a career highlight!), wherein architecture is perceived as an essential element in the uplifting of one’s spiritual connection. I must say that it is very rare to have a client that firmly believes in the relevance and power of architecture and appreciating the potential for it’s role in facilitating the improvement of one’s condition.
DL: What’s the best thing about summer in the city?
JC: Driving with the top down in my convertible along the Gardiner Expressway.
DL: Name a Toronto talent worth keeping an eye on. Why?
JC: Amanda McCavour. Delicate, ephemeral, wonderfully evocative work.
DL: Who is your all-time favourite designer?
JC: Arne Jacobsen. An architect and designer, he created some of the most iconic and timeless product designs seen in this, and the past, century. When my eye roves over the lines of the Swan chair or when handling his minimalist flatware, there is always a sense of pleasure aroused.
DL: What is your workspace incomplete without?
JC: My Lamy CP1 black fountain pen. Simple, elemental and utilitarian. I’m still very much analogue.
DL: What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
JC: Life’s not about taking, it’s about giving back. And then you’ll receive. It’s all about achieving that delicate balance.
DL: Where do you go for a great cup of coffee?
JC: Chai Bar (414 Dupont St). A chai-themed coffee bar where they grind up the spices for the chai with a mortar and pestle to order. There’s also a nicely landscaped patio with a fish pond.