Designer Profile: Nicholas Ancerl, Principal of Ancerl Studio

Name: Nicholas Ancerl  
Company: Ancerl Studio
Position within company:  Principal
Website: www.ancerlstudio.com

Tell us a little about your background in design (education, experience, etc)A year out of high school I attended an interior design program at the college level with the intentions of returning to university for Architecture. After completing the interior design program a friend of my mother’s that is a big shot Urban Planner in the city forbid me to go directly into school stating ‘get a job with an architecture firm first and then decide if you want to go through 7 years of schooling’. Within months of working my first job for a Toronto Architecture firm I decided against Architecture school. Professional changes led me to enjoy the faster pace of the interior design world in which one would see the final vision come to life much sooner than with an architecture firm. While working I opted to attend York University on a part-time basis with a double major in Urban and Environmental Studies.

After working a decade for some of Toronto’s most decorated Interior Design firms, and on occasion taking on a freelance project which I always found inspiring and stimulating, it was clear as day that I wanted to explore the entrepreneurs path. The plan was to build and flip houses. My ideals were that regardless if I could make less doing it my way… I was going to do it my way – I wanted to be able to have my canvas in which I could express myself. The problem was that I had no money, no job (as I quit to pursue this) and no experience with construction. Determined, my job for a year was introducing people to my plan to attract investors. Nearly a year after starting this and facing numerous rejections based on limited experience, the $25K that I started with and was living on had nearly run dry. I was two weeks from being homeless when my first investor accepted my offer and we purchased a home that I found on the ravine in Parkview Hills. Now able to pay my rent and lease a Smartcar to get around, we were one of the early users of the accordion door system as we placed two 12 foot by 12 foot bi-folds walking out to the ravine garden. Many of the contacts I had courted were now confident in my ability and investors were more readily available.
My good nature and hand shake approach led to me being taken advantage of; one deal went so wrong and I was left cheated for my share and  approaching my mid 30s with potential of not being able to pay my rent again. After taking a few days, I acted fast calling on some of those contacts that I had worked so hard on and within 60 days I had three new houses that I was designing and I never looked back from there.

Always looking at the big picture of where I am going, today Ancerl Studio has some GREAT team members and 31 complete new home designs in the studio and we are pushing the envelope and are excited for what we will be able to bring to the streetscape over the next three years.

How would you describe your personal design style?
Texture and Space !

When designing a home I like to think how the home can be used; beyond the traditional way of living where one maximizes the potential square footage they can afford, and rather think how one can best experience a space thinking in cubic footage. I think to my personal home where I sit on my sofa and look up 30+ feet to a slopping ceiling with timber beams and two bridges. Its an experience to just spend time in the space. I also like to ensure that every space has a focal point, in some cases subtle and others impactful and even overpowering. The challenge is to ensure they do not conflict with one another when they fall into the same sightline.

When furnishing, I always appreciate a good texture among slick and clean lines but have a talented team that suggest tasteful and sometimes edgy ideas that always has us evolving.

Where does your design inspiration come from?
I credit Spirit for the inspiration – the proper concept or idea always comes. It may take longer at times but there is never a doubt that it is the right way to go when it does come. Inspiration comes in so many forms… a team member may come with a great image, or someone walking with a great outfit can trigger something but the number one for me is getting an opportunity to set foot into old European buildings that have grand interior spaces. There is almost always a detail take away that I am just dying to evolve into something new.

In what direction do you feel that design is moving towards in a general sense?
While style is a matter of choice and changing by the season, the contribution that I want Ancerl Studio to make to the landscape is by allowing people to think differently about their home and how they live. I believe people will give up that forth bedroom which sits vacant in exchange for the opportunity to open up a kitchen with dramatic tall panels accessible by ladder. This is the type of difference I want to offer, where a resident will have guests over and just being in the space is the experience. I believe people want spaces that have been thought out as to how they can function but also have the form in a ‘grand’ way.

If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to design schemes, what would it be?
Don’t force something. I use the analogy that one may have gorgeous yellow Versace pants and one may also have a hot orange Armani shirt. Each on its own can look brilliant, however, pair them together and you look like a clown! The point being is that the scheme is more important than the items and one should use an editing eye when putting a space together- it’s ok to remove items as some shows only need one star (and sometime the space itself is that one star).

How important are The International Design & Architecture Awards?
What differentiates these awards from others are that unlike other publications that offer awards, they are geared towards the style of the magazine. These awards appreciate styles from all genres and takes and I believe that is important as there are still fantastic traditional homes (among other styles) that now get the deserving opportunity to be in the spotlight long side all other styles.

What projects are you currently working on?
We are just wrapping up Waxwing, situated on a ravine. The glass house boasts privacy from the front façade that sees the two wings blend into the scenery with wood on one side and titanium slightly reflecting the trees on the other, with no windows except the glass bridge that connects the master suit to the kids living quarters on the opposite wings.

This Fall construction will be commencing on what we call the ‘Crystal Box’ as we will be taking a true Victorian form and bringing some contemporary material ideas that we believe will make this a never before seen twist of a classic.

What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months?
We will likely see 14 Ancerl Studio houses complete and we are very excited at the opportunity to get as many eyes on our homes as possible as this year is about telling our different stories in such a way that we may be ‘recognized’ as a boutique firm that burst onto the scene.

Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself and your daily inspirations:
Your Most Treasured Possession –
my wedding ring… together we picked separate styles that suited the two of us and it acts as reminder of a life long commitment of love and respect

Your Favourite Holiday Destination Cuba. Its cold here in the Winter and by the time Christmas hit we are usually drained from the rush to complete before the holiday so it is nice to go where its warm and technology really does not work so I can just unwind and be.

Your Favourite Hotel The London Edition. I’ve always admired the photos and last year when I got the opportunity to go to London I could not resist staying there.

Favoure Song – Imagine (Lennon), My Sweet Lord (Harrision), Wish you were here (Pink Floyd)

Favourite Drink – Making a smoothie with spinach, banana, flax, chia, kiefer, water and LOADED with mango

Favourite Way To Spend An Afternoon – Sunny day, just being able to get a treat and going to the park to sit on the grass with my wife and new born… No distractions, just us.

If  you wasn’t a designer, what would you be? – Probably should not say this, when I was young I use to watch wrestling and the characters were great;  the story lines…well there is a reason I stopped watching! However, if I could choose anything else (other than the obvious of being GM for the Toronto Blue Jays) I would be a creative storyline writer for WWE.

Ancerl Studio have 5 projects shortlisted in The International Design and Architecture Awards 2020. 


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