The year was 1990. Jackie Chan was filming some of the sequences for the movies Project A and Police Story in Canada. Two years prior to that, the moneyed class was exiting Hong Kong, fearing imminent takeover by mainland China. Many of these tycoons came to Toronto to at least establish a temporary residence here, just in case. One of the founders of Golden Harvest Film Company of Hong Kong had his secretary call us to arrange a meeting with him in his apartment in uptown Toronto near Yorkville. When we arrived, the apartment was a beehive of activities with people walking about looking busy. Later we found out that they were preparing for the arrival of this movie mogul who was enroute from the airport. This was the producer who introduced Bruce Lee to the millions of admirers on the big screen in Hong Kong many years ago. We were later given the commission to completely renovate the condo unit while the owner was back in Hong Kong. He made us guarantee completion of the job before he returned. At the time our custom-made in Canada furniture was sold in Hong Kong through Amtrac to prominent clients such as The Grand Hyatt Wan Chi and Li Ka Shing’s corporate head office. He had seen our design work before and would gave us carte blanche to carry on.
The client had high expectations and we did not disappoint. The only cultural difference was the cost of having things custom made in Canada was somewhere about 4:1 ration of that in the Far East. Luckily the wife pointed out the reality to her husband the producer and our quotes were readily accepted. We proceeded to strip off all the existing finishes in the apartment and installed everything new. The sycamore wood panelled foyer was delightful to design and install. We designed and produced the sofas, coffee tables, master bedroom suite, rugs, dining table, chairs and side tables. The high point of the job was to design and fit the built-in bookcase in the library which was to house, not books, but all the movies that the client had produced since the 1970s – in VHS format : images of Bruce Lee, Jet Li, Jackie Chan, Michael Hui, Anita Mui, et al, graced the cupboard that we designed. And some of these celebrities had been guests at this suite. The only sticky point that we could have improved on was that the client wanted no division in the window blinds which must span across two very wide windows in one piece. The ten foot wide cellular blinds were brand new at the time and recently introduced to Canada by Hunter Douglas and could not draw very well due to their heavy weight. They had to remain closed all the time. But that seemed alright with the occupants because they wanted maximum privacy at all time. Subsequent condo reno jobs demanded workable motorized hardware for the window blinds which had to be custom-made by a specialty manufacturer we were working with in the last ten years who would order special motors, gear boxes and rollers for the oversized and extremely heavy drapes or blinds in these condominium residences.