Textures, colours and functional space have always been part of Simard’s life. Growing up in Montreal, Que., he had a family in the business of design, including parents and a grandfather who run a successful construction company and a grandmother who was a real estate broker. His design firm, Toronto Interior Design Group, works on high-profile residential and commercial properties across North America; most recently, he designed a bathroom for Canadian singer-songwriter Matt Dusk. Since 2008, Simard has been a regular design expert on Citytv’s CityLine. He’s also a regular contributor to Style at Home, Home and Décor and Reno & Décor.
Days spent on the road
A third of the year, probably four months, total. I work a lot in the U.S., the West Coast of Canada and in the Caribbean.
Dominican Republic. I have a house in Las Terrenas along the Samana Peninsula and often fly there every couple months with my dog, Mia. When I’m down there, it’s mostly to relax, work on my house and shop. The Dominican has great design shops like Laxmi Shop—a lot of Europeans live there, so they bring their European flair.
Best business lunch
There’s an amazing French bistro on Wellington Street in Toronto called Le Sélect Bistro. They have the most interesting wine list. Feed your guests the cassoulet and you’re sure to close the deal.
How I pack
I always travel with a big duffle bag that looks like a big military pouch. I don’t like rolling clothes—it takes too much time, and I don’t have that luxury. I’m a very simple guy. I like efficiency and comfort, and that’s how I design. That’s how I live and that’s how I travel.
Tips for flying
“Que lindo es sonar despierto.” It means, “How lovely it is to dream while awake.” When I’m in the office, it’s all business. When I get on the plane, I relax and watch satellite TV. Put all the work away and give yourself time to reflect and re-adjust and don’t try to do too much. Also, try to avoid any checked luggage and keep products down to a minimum.
Before boarding, I must have…
Starbucks. Give me a grande non-fat latte and sandwich and I’m good. Coffee is like comfort food for me.
My must-bring gadget
My BlackBerry Playbook.
Favourite travel app
WeatherEye. I’m obsessed with checking the forecast so I can plan what to do and what to wear.
The pet-friendly L’Hermitage Hotel in downtown Vancouver. They even have a resident canine concierge service, Hippo, a dog who greets the guests.
I like to mix the vision that I have and mould it with the client’s wants and needs. We have this big board in the design studio with a quote written on it saying, “The customer is the reason we do everything that we do.” Whether there’s a bump in the road or a slight clash of ideas, we are always able to make things work and come to a reasonable agreement. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.