Georgia Straight Living
Georgia Straight Living
Georgia Straight Living By Luisa Rino
Publish Date: May 24, 2007
Jason To and Linh Diep comb the east for their modern-zen-influenced decor finds
Two years ago, graphic designer Jason To and good friend Linh Diep, a visual artist, watched a movie together. One scene in particular planted the seed for what they now invest much of their time in: Redgalleria (2152 Main Street, 604-872-8873, www.redgalleria.net). And that’s how Rush Hour changed their lives–that and a coinciding trip to Asia. After visits to Hong Kong, Vietnam, Macao, and Thailand, To and Diep began to cultivate the roster of contacts that would eventually supply their store. The Zen-modern décor boutique opened last fall. To and Diep pick everything themselves, besides designing many of their one-of-a-kind pieces: marble coffee tables, hand-painted lamps, jewellery boxes, sandstone ornaments, statues, and art. (Prices range from $4.50 to $5,900.)
How do you describe your home style?
To: Mine is modern-Zen-influenced. I like it dark and warm, inviting. I like dark wood with a lot of stainless steel and glass. Diep: I like café colours, browns, dark wood–mahogany dark.
What influences your design sense?
To: When I went to L.A. recently, everywhere I went is Zen-influenced. All you see is Buddha heads. It makes me feel so comfortable, that aura. Diep: Movies, TV, and magazines–I put things together. I pick things I like and bring things together. It’s very spontaneous.
Where’s your favourite place to cocoon?
To: My bedroom. Days that I don’t have to work I just like to relax and watch TV with my girlfriend. It’s very clean, very spacious, very comfortable for me. Diep: My couch. I have a huge couch that you kind of sink in to.
Where do you entertain?
Diep: My living room. I have a barbecue out front, but right now it’s being renovated. To: I just love watching hockey games and I love to have people over to do that and afterward have a poker game.
What’s your most extravagant purchase?
To: Our most extravagant purchase is the wooden statue on display at the front of the store. We don’t even care if it sells, it’s just a head turner. It’s Guan Yin Buddha with 1,000 hands and 1,000 eyes [literally], made of red wood, hand-crafted in Vietnam. The 1,000 hands means she helps all beings, anywhere, anyone who needs help. And the 1,000 eyes means she looks after all beings.
What’s your best budget find?
To: I found a piece at HomeSense–a statue of a Guan Yin–and liked it, so I bought it and had it made into a painting. I gave the statue to my mom and she loved it. I also had two different paintings made of it in Vietnam. One was sold and the other was made into an Andy Warhol–style painting. Because of that one cheap purchase, I made my mom happy and it gave us ideas to make more art. It was $25.
What’s your most sentimental piece?
Diep: General Kwan, Kwan Yu. He’s made of brass and I’ve had if for a few years and it’s gotten me through a lot of tough times, as well as good.
What’s your drink?
To: I don’t drink but the Whip restaurant is around the corner, so I get a coffee there everyday. Diep: Grey Goose 7.
What’s on your bedside table?
To: My remote control and always a glass of water. Diep: My iPod and my iPod player.
What’s in your DVD player?
To: Right now it’s Entourage, third season. Diep: Borat.
What’s in your CD player?
To: Tiësto. Diep: Ministry of Sound, Clubbers Guide 2007.
What’s your favourite electronic gadget?
To: My iPod. Diep: My cellphone, a Nokia 8801.
What’s your favourite kitchen tool?
To: The George Foreman Grill. Diep: I like my knives–Henckels–and I’d say my fork, because I like to eat.
A few of your favourite brands…
To: Samsung–anything over 50 inches.
Diep: Weber Genesis Silver. Jason likes it too.
To: Dove Body Wash, because my mom uses it.
To: Does Glade make scented candles? I like that one.