There are several individual industries that work together in building our city. Developers, architects, planners, and public relations professionals are just some of the many professions working behind the scenes to envision, design, market and build the new projects reshaping Toronto. We regularly feature interviews with industry professionals, but in our new Insider Q&A feature, we leave formalities at the door and spend time getting to know the interviewee.
For our first Insider Q&A, we spoke to Hunter Tura, President and CEO of Bruce Mau Design, a multidisciplinary design firm founded in 1985. Much of their work focuses on increasing brand recognition for their clients, including the many visual and design tasks associated with creating and re-envisioning brands.
Hunter Tura, image courtesy of Bruce Mau Design
UT: How did you start in the business?
HT: I’ve been working in architecture and design for over 20 years and had the opportunity to move to Toronto to lead Bruce Mau Design in 2010. One of the really exciting things is to see how rapidly ‘The Business’ is evolving and the definition of what it means to be a designer is so expansive at the moment.
Your role at your company.
I’m the President and CEO of Bruce Mau Design, which means a big part of my role is defining a clear vision for the future of our organization. Obviously, I spend a lot of time with clients and potential clients as well as working with our Creative Directors on our various projects. One of the things I am most passionate about is building a model for what it means to be a 21st century design organization. In that regard, I spend a lot of time finding the best global talent and finding the right platform for them to do the best work of their lives.
We know that BMD has done work for future Toronto development “The Well”. Can you tell us about your other current projects?
We’ve got a lot of fun things going on at the moment that are keeping me busy: We continue to do a lot of work with SONOS, Harvard and GE, who are long-time collaborators of ours. We’re continuing to work with DREAM on a range of initiatives to help roll-out their new visual identity as well as urban branding initiatives in Hong Kong, Jersey City and here in Toronto. Some new work includes an in-store branded content strategy for a global retail brand, the branding of an Ivy League University’s new Innovation platform, and packaging design for one of the largest communications companies in the US.
Marketing material for ‘The Well’, image courtesy of Bruce Mau Design
Any future plans you’d like to tell us about?
We’re very excited about the BMD office in Los Angeles that we launched in February and the team that we’ve built there. We’re hoping for big things from them in 2015; I expect to be out there helping to expand that part of the business fairly often next year.
What is your favourite current project that you aren’t involved with?
I was at the Venice Biennale in June and was inspired by so many of the Pavilions—including the amazing Canada Pavilion by Lateral Office—but was particularly interested in the research-driven exhibition “Elements of Architecture” curated by Rem Koolhaas and ‘branded’ by Irma Boom.
In your opinion, what is currently the biggest issue facing Toronto and the GTA?
Well the potent cocktail of condo construction mixed with road construction has certainly made downtown an adventure, but it seems endemic to large parts of the city at the moment.
Environmental branding in the DREAM (Dundee Real Estate Asset Management) office, image courtesy of Bruce Mau Design
As far as sports go, Argos, Blue Jays, FC, Maple Leafs or Raptors?
I’m originally from New England and I’m a passionate Patriots and Bruins fan (sorry), but I was definitely drawn into the Raptors playoff run last year. So Raptors.
What is your take on the current state of the Toronto market?
It’s simultaneously exciting and terrifying. On one hand, there are a lot of wonderful new buildings, well-designed and well-built by thoughtful developers and architects who are really trying to create a new, responsive kind of urbanism. On the other hand, there are a lot of schlocky developments that really are not resolved in terms of how they are integrated into the larger urban situation, or in certain cases, just plain ugly or bizarre. The part that really concerns me is that sometimes these two conditions are adjacent to one another, which will create a set of urban circumstances that it will take a generation to resolve.
Can you name us some of your design/work inspirations?
My daughters are a constant source of inspiration. I want to work as hard as they do.
Considering Toronto’s eclectic restaurant scene, it can be difficult to decide on where to dine. What is your favourite restaurant in the city?
Our office is on King Street West, so obviously I spend a lot of time at Weslodge and Patria, which are both great, but I’m a huge Corey Vitello fan, so in terms of sheer creativity and excitement – as well as a great atmosphere – I have to go with The Harbord Room.
Favourite thing to do in the city?
I’m lucky enough to live very close to the Evergreen Brick Works, so I love going into the Ravine and walking or riding my bike down there to the farmer’s market. Recently, the Brick Works has hosted the Junction Flea, which gives a little taste of that west end hipness to the east side.
Who do you follow on Twitter?
Want to know something? The absolute weirdest account on Twitter is the official account of Lufthansa. It’s so refreshing to see something this unscripted in the age of over-controlled corporate messaging.
We thank Hunter for taking the time to answer our questions, and look forward to future work from Bruce Mau Design. We will return soon with another Q&A session with one of the many insiders in Toronto’s development scene.