Q&A: Canada-based Lifestyle Design Brand Departo

Q&A: Canada-based Lifestyle Design Brand Departo
Screenshot of the departo website. Courtesy of the brand.

In December 2020, we published an article on departo’s folding chair because it’s an attractive piece of furniture made from high-quality materials and artisanal techniques. The young brand should be on your radar, so we decided to interview the creative directors and founders to learn more. 

In 2019, George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg of Yabu Pushelberg and Yuichiro Hori of Stellar Works co-founded lifestyle brand departo with a core mission. That mission, as stated in Canadian Interiors, is to make covetable, affordable essentials for today’s modern, mobile consumer without sacrificing quality. 

George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg. Courtesy of departo.

George and Glenn are the creative directors of departo. They founded their studio Yabu Pushelberg 40 years ago, in 1980, for which they design places and products, so why the new brand? 

ArchiExpo e-Magazine: Why did you decide to launch the lifestyle brand departo? How would you differentiate it from your studio Yabu Pushelberg?

Glenn Pushelberg: As Yabu Pushelberg, we have had the opportunity to design best-in-class experiences around the world for the past 40 years. With each project, we learn something new about ourselves through people and culture. We are driven to connect with the way people choose to live their lives. While designing for Yabu  Pushelberg, we thought about how we can bring this level of design to a wider audience at an approachable price point, and so departo was born. 

George Yabu: I remember this defining moment when we were looking for a beautiful folding chair and could not find one anywhere, so we decided to make one ourselves. In the process, we realized that we can create beautiful, functional and affordable goods at an accessible cost to consumers. 

Screenshot of the departo website. Courtesy of the brand.ArchiExpo e-Magazine: What do you love most about your new brand? 

Glenn Pushelberg: What I love about departo is its endless ability to evolve with people’s needs. What began as a simple honest tabletop company has grown beyond its original self, chasing more ambitious ideas that represent moving through the motions of everyday life with quality. 

George Yabu: For our next collection, we are working with a small vendor from Japan who will be producing our products. What I love most about departo is the consideration given before we even begin designing to honor the hands who help us bring the products to life. 

ArchiExpo e-Magazine: Are all of your products made using Asian craftsmanship techniques? Are they fabricated in Canada? Where are the materials sourced from? 

Glenn Pushelberg: We go where there is expertise in the specific craft we are focused on. Depending on the collection,  our team will strategize where is the best space for the collection to be made. These decisions help formulate the initial narrative of a collection, our second of which we look forward to sharing with you.

Screenshot of the departo website. Courtesy of the brand.

ArchiExpo e-Magazine: Would you say your biggest target market is the nomad between 20-40 years old? Can you describe your target market?

Glenn Pushelberg: It’s not an age, it’s a mindset. We want departo to appeal to people who are modern in thought and appreciate objects which possess value.  

ArchiExpo e-Magazine: How much time do you spend evaluating the cost of each product in order to find the right middle ground?

Glenn Pushelberg: It was our goal to make high-level, beautiful design accessible through well-made everyday objects that enhance the motions of everyday life. Cost is a factor with anything, but it is not where an idea begins and ends.  

George Yabu: For our second collection we re-evaluated the packaging for our products. Originally, we had beautifully layered packaging that embodied the spirit of departo with drawings on well-formed packaging.  We decided to pare this back, which not only pared back the cost while creating a smarter new design but also made us more sustainable. 

Screenshot of the departo website. Courtesy of the brand.

ArchiExpo e-Magazine: What do you think about luxury today compared to 20-30-40 years ago? How would you describe today’s luxury and what do you think we can expect in the near future?

Glenn Pushelberg: To make something modern and thoughtful is the meaning of new luxury. We lead with this notion no matter the project or medium. Pure luxury is when something can grow with you without an expiration date and this concept will be carried forward into our future. 

Screenshot of the departo website. Courtesy of the brand.

ArchiExpo e-Magazine: Can you give me the name and product description of a few of your newest pieces and perhaps give us a teaser for what’s coming this year (2021)?

George Yabu: A beautiful, multi-colored cashmere throw with a humble price point is a standout in the collection.  It is something you would gift your grandmother. 

Glenn Pushelberg: Our fisherman’s bucket hat has me excited. A hat is a sweet thing because it can really transform the top of your head and thus, your mood and outlook. It will be nice to create something that can be worn and be attuned to a person’s mood.

Screenshot of the departo website. Courtesy of the brand.

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