University of Toronto Magazine University of Toronto Magazine

Grand Designs

Banu Khurana, Andrew Jones and Sywa Sung

Banu Khurana

Banu Khurana (MBA 2001) can be excused for writing brief reports for her business classes. She can even be excused for mentioning unmentionables in market research and e-commerce projects. While Khurana, 26, was attending the Joseph L. Rotman School of Management, she was also building the foundation of Khurana, a luxury lingerie label she started in 1998 with her brother, Amit, a recent Ryerson fashion-marketing graduate.

To say their lingerie is getting intense exposure would not be pushing the pun too far. New York’s upscale Bergdorf Goodman was their first buyer; Canada’s Holt Renfrew, their second. Their slips were featured in the January issue of Glamour magazine. And some people like the Chinese charmeuse silk lingerie so much they wear nothing else, literally, for many of the slips, camisoles, robes and slip pants are funky enough to be worn both in the bedroom and on the street.

“We wanted to make something that was luxurious and yet useful,” says Khurana, who splits designing and marketing duties with Amit. Born in New Delhi and having lived in Kuwait, Iran and Canada, these early bloomers also bring an international flair to their design. “There’s a bigger world out there,” she says. “We don’t design just for the Canadian customer, but for one who might be in any big city anywhere in the world.”

Margaret Webb

Andrew Jones

The process of creating beautiful objects can be a challenging one for furniture designer Andrew Jones. “It’s kind of painful and joyous at the same time,” he says. “You realize how little you know when you start making a prototype.” But that hasn’t kept him from winning a host of awards, particularly for his chair and table designs, since he earned his bachelor’s degree from U of T’s school of architecture in 1991, and his master’s from the Royal College of Art in London in 1997. He has won the annual Virtu Canadian Design Competition in Toronto each of the three times he has entered, as well as honours in Britain and the United States, and some of his work has become a permanent part of the Royal Ontario Museum’s design collection.

Jones, 34, is involved in an array of projects: for Keilhauer in Toronto he is creating kid-sized versions of his Gym stacking chairs and nesting tables; he’s just finished a proposal for Gloster, a furniture company located in Bristol, England, to create a line of teak-and-aluminum garden furniture; and he’s working on an addition to a stone cottage in Caledon, Ontario, and designing a garden around it. In the midst of all this activity, he still finds time to teach at U of T’s Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design. “It’s so invigorating to think up projects for students,” he says. He notes that a key moment came while he himself was a student, when he created a museum display for an assignment. One of his instructors ended up buying the piece from him. “What you design represents you, your aspirations, your abilities,” says Jones. “That experience really inspired me.”

Hilary Davidson

Sywa Sung

He’s got a degree in architecture (like his father), but Sywa Sung’s imagination could not be contained by walls. After graduating in 1994, he worked for two-and-a-half years doing small-scale commercial and house designs, but a light bulb went off when he read about Star Trek: The Experience, which boasts a motion simulator ride in which people “fly” through space in a shuttle craft on an action adventure at the Las Vegas Hilton hotel. “I realized that this kind of multidisciplinary project was what I had been searching for, combining my various interests in movies, TV and entertainment with my skills in architecture, design and illustration,” he says.

In the fall of 1996, Sung took his portfolio to a theme park convention in New Orleans. There a chance conversation led to a job offer a few months later from Sony Development. “My time at Sony was a dream come true,” recalls the soft-spoken Sung. As part of a small, highly skilled team in Burbank, Calif., he helped design Metreon, a 350,000-square-foot, four-storey San Francisco centre that includes a Sony-IMAX theatre, a 15-screen movie theatre complex, restaurants, stores and the Airtight Garage, a video adventure zone based on the work of the French sci-fi cult author and illustrator Jean Giraud. “I’ve been a fan of his work for years,” says Sung. “I’m thrilled I got to work with him.” During the three years he was at Sony, Sung also worked on Mediage, a similar centre in Tokyo, and Music Box in Berlin.

Now Sung, whose career moves as quickly as an action video, is contributing to the set design of a movie for Pixar Animation Studios, the Academy Award-winning creators of Toy Story. “I follow my instincts,” says the 30-year-old who loves his work because it “touches people in some tangible way.”

Susan Lawrence

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