Ask Beach resident Dawn Barbieri about Casa Loma, and she’ll tell you about her chair.
That’s because the midtown castle was the inspiration for the chair she’s designed for the second annual Chair Affair fundraiser for Furniture Bank.
Taking place Sept. 21, the fundraiser is part live auction and part silent auction. Chairs from Furniture Bank reupholstered by artists and designers for the charitable company will be sold off.
Barbieri got involved in as soon as she could.
“I looked at it and went ‘ok, I’ve got to do that’,” the owner of eco-friendly home décor company Albertine Dawn said.
“So I went down to the furniture bank, introduced myself to the fundraising manager, walked around and saw everything they did, found out the details and told her I really wanted to be involved.”
Adding that she feels it’s important to give back to the community, Barbieri said the need for Furniture Bank when she asked her son’s best friend to test out the chair.
“I told him what I was doing and he said ‘my mom used the Furniture Bank, we grew up really poor’,” Barbieri said. “That touched me so much … I had no idea my son’s best friend had actually gone through this.”
And that message of helping people less fortunate also ties in with her Casa Loma-themed chair.
“The reason I chose it for the Furniture Bank was because (Casa Loma builder Sir Henry Pellatt) was also a philanthropist,” she said.
The chair itself, Barbieri said reminded her of Casa Loma when she saw it at Furniture Bank initially.
“I found this (chair) and it spoke to me. It looked like something that would have sat in a castle, big and round,” she said. “The arm of it is the same shape as a Jacobean Oak chair, which (Pellatt) actually had in the castle.”
But the chair wasn’t the source of inspiration. It was a vintage drapery fabric Barbieri had found months before that reminded her of the famed Toronto castle.
While that fabric adorns the front and seat of the chair, the back of the chair is made from what used to be warm-up coats used by actresses in Toronto’s film industry for over three decades.
Also on the back of the chair is a button shaped like a crown, which Barbieri says signifies one of Pellatt’s hopes for the castle: housing royalty from other countries.
“And on the bottom of the chair I’ve got inscribed in gold the family motto of Sir Henry Pellatt,” she said. “Everything around the chair is kind of signifying Casa Loma.”
Last year, the event raised $64,000 for Furniture Bank with one chair going for $1,700. This year the goal is $100,000, with at least 40 chairs to be auctioned — including a Hot Stove lounge chair signed by 16 members of the 2008-09 Toronto Maple Leafs team.
Though Barbieri doesn’t expect her chair to break any records, that’s not her main concern anyway.
“Whatever works,” she said. “I’m so glad to be in it, hopefully I get a lot of money for the chair for the Furniture Bank.”
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