Allen Chan and Matt Davis first met while studying landscape architecture at U of T’s Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design. But these days, they’re known for their work on the great indoors, as co-hosts of Designer Guys, the popular home-design show on HGTV. Each episode, Chan (BLA 1997), Davis (BLA 1997) and their colleague Anwar Mukhayesh transform their clients’ dowdy surroundings into hip, modernist spaces. Past projects have ranged from a slick makeover of a 600-square-foot bachelor-pad condo to a subtle update of Pierre Berton’s childhood home in the Yukon, which is now a writers’ retreat. “Whether you study interior design, architecture, landscape architecture or graphic design, a lot of the core ideas can be the same,” says Davis, 34. “So we took a lot of our knowledge from U of T – how we dealt with space outside of buildings – and started applying it to interior spaces as well.”
Chan, Davis and Mukhayesh (who attended the University of Western Ontario) are the principal partners in Precipice Studios Inc., their Toronto-based design firm. “Precipice” was the name of Davis and Chan’s fictional design firm at U of T. “[The name] is so fitting for what we do,” says Chan, 34, who is also a part-time adjunct professor at the Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design. The trio, after all, has dozens of design projects underway in Canada and the U.S., and Designer Guys shoots 26 shows – each one a separate renovation project – during a frenetic six-month schedule.“We’re always on the edge of madness or insanity…everything’s about to fall over the edge,” says Chan.
A U of T lab is working with actors, writers and directors on how they could harness AI and other emerging technologies to generate new ideas and – just maybe – reinvent theatre