From oven mitts to a seven-foot-tall teddy bear, Camal Pirbhai goes beyond curtain making when he creates pieces for his gallery.
Although Pirbhai has been designing window treatments since 1994, he more recently started exhibiting household items and accessories as art in Gallery Bespoke.
He says the collections, which rotate seasonally and are mostly textile and fabric based, showcase his techniques as a curtain maker but also allow him to further express his creative side.
“I’m always trying to sort of push the envelope creatively and technically it’s fun to do different things,” he says.
A big source of inspiration for his gallery creations is his 2-year-old daughter Heidi, who was the muse for pieces like a curtain made from teddy bears and the giant teddy bear in the front window.
“As a creative person you have to stay true to yourself, you have to put a bit of yourself in what you are doing,” he says. “I have ideas and then it sort of develops. I’ll use something from my life and then go with it.”
After running his design office, Studio La Beauté, on Mt. Pleasant Road for many years, he recently relocated next door to the gallery on Scollard Street near Bay Street. He says the location was a good fit because he’s surrounded by couture fashion and he’s trying to bring curtains and soft furnishings to the same high-end level.
“Every project we do, even on the curtain side, it’s a new adventure, even if it’s simple there’s always something different,” he says. “It’s like cooking; you have a recipe but the vegetables are always different sizes so to me every time we do something I’m excited.”
Pirbhai, who apprenticed in London, England before returning to Canada to start his company, says he now plans to start focusing on educating people in his trade.
“I think it’s important for me to teach people and sort of keep this kind of work alive, this craftsmanship,” he says. “It’s like furniture making, once it’s lost it will take generations to learn again because it’s not stuff you can really read in a book. It’s doing and experience, that’s how you learn the tricks of the trade.”
Through his gallery he hopes to inspire people to see the art in household items like carpets, chairs or even dish patterns.
“Everything in our life really should have that personal touch that someone put thought and creativity into it,” he says. “If people can take a little bit of that and put it into their life, then we have a little bit more personality in the world.”
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