We met Stanley Sun and Ashley Rumsey at their studio in the Junction, one of Toronto’s trendiest neighbourhoods. As they politely welcomed us into their space, Ashley said, “Don’t mind the mess, we’ve been very busy.” Of course, their open concept office is both picturesque and spotless and their modesty is awfully charming. To our right, a large neon sign from a previous project leaned against the wall. It read: Our Home and Native Land. We’ve been taught over and over, “never judge a book by its cover.” But, in this case, it seems both appropriate and favourable. Stanley and Ashley are partners of a recently founded Toronto-based firm called Mason Studio. The two have gained quite an audience both locally and internationally, and it feels as though we are bearing witness to the beginnings of a very fruitful career. Their secret is simple: a keen attention to detail and a dash of cool.
Ashley and Stanley are both graduates of the Ryerson School of Interior Design where they gained a mutual respect for each other’s creative mind and work ethic. “We had a chance to collaborate in second year,” Ashley recalls, “ [At school] you get the chance to see everybody’s work and Stan’s always stood out to me.” After graduating, the two parted ways but remained in contact as they pursued careers in the design discipline. “I went on vacation to visit Stan when he was working in London [England]. We discussed our dreams and our future… six months later I quit my job, and the next day Mason opened.” Since then, the two have become an integral part of Toronto’s design community by supporting their peers on the Mason Studio blog and by creating truly magical pause moments in our design festivals.
The two made their debut at the Interior Design Show in 2012 when they were selected for a featured exhibit. Their space was a conceptual living environment that challenged our notions of modern living and spoke to the vast Canadian landscape. Every detail helped to connect the dots and create a spatial portrait of their design perspective. Their innovation was very well received and even earned them a spot on the cover of NOW! Magazine. “The attention we got is still a shock to us but we are so appreciative of the success it brought us,” said Stanley, “that project was very thought out. We wanted to present something that really spoke to who we are.” With this project as their foundation, the two have continued to design in excellence with the ability to create spaces that tell a story from the macro to the micro details.
For too long, we have looked to other cities and international household names to feed our concept of innovative design. With Mason Studio acting as part of the foundation of our current design community we can finally think locally. As we said our goodbyes I took one last look at the neon sign on their wall. In a glimpse, I saw a culmination of their past success, present modesty, and all of the drive for a very bright future. As we follow their journey, it will be the details that truly count.