An Interview With David Grant-Rubash Of Toronto’s PHAEDRUS Studio

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing David Grant-Rubash, one of the principal architects of Toronto’s PHAEDRUS Studio.

Currently, David is engaged in several projects, including working as a sessional faculty and lecturer at both OCAD University (Ontario College of Art and Design), and Ryerson University’s School of Interior Design. It was PHAEDRUS Studio’s forward-thinking Canadian design project Tesseract House that initially caught my eye, not only for its aesthetic but for its contribution to the future of Canadian architecture.

Here’s what the talented David Grant-Rubash has to say about his life and career as an Architect, Designer, and Educator:


Image of David Grant-Rubash, Photography Courtesy of PHAEDRUS Studio



What is your background, and what inspired you to get into your field?
I am from Kansas originally, where I received a Master of Interior Architecture and Product Design from Kansas State University. My partner, Tyler Malone, holds a Master of Architecture from the University of Toronto and a Bachelor of Architectural Science from Ryerson University.  I think our diverse educational background is evident in the range of work we take on from installations and furniture to interior architecture. From a young age, I was enamoured both by nature and the human-made world and ultimately, why it was the way it was. Good and bad.


What is one of the projects you’re working on right now in Canada that excites you?
We are currently working with BLKSheep, an up and coming women’s fashion boutique, on their flagship location in Thornhill, Ontario. This project is an excellent example of a sophisticated client investing in and working with an architect/designer from start to finishing details, to develop a complete spatial and brand experience. Not only were we retained for development consulting, but we will also act as architect, interior architect and oversee the execution of custom millwork, furniture and displays. While the project is still navigating the extensive approval process associated with heritage permits, we are also excited to see this project move forward.


What trends or changes do you see coming in your industry?
We are seeing the compartmentalization of the design industry and the marginalization of the broader skillset of design professionals. This compartmentalization is creating significant gaps in the design of our built environments. I don’t like that it is so easily forgotten that buildings and spaces are for human beings.


Tesseract House by PHAEDRUS Studio



How do you – or what do you do – to find your creative inspiration‎ today?
Core values, rigour and discipline balanced with playful exploration and a willingness to learn and change.


What is your favourite – or most compelling – ‎example of Canadian houseporn?
The modern designs of Omar Gandhi Architects are always pushing the Canadian design landscape forward.


Omar Ghandi’s Rabbit Snare Gorge Cabin, Nova Scotia, Photography Courtesy of Dezeen



What are the elements that make a design truly Canadian?
Canadians have an identity that is defined by their relationship with nature. Canadian architecture and design at its best strive to reflect this.


Why is ‘right now’ the most exciting time to design in Canada?
Our cities and culture are changing rapidly. What will they become? What will it say about us?


What are your top sources of inspiration?
While we love seeing what others are up to and the latest use of materials, content is so frequently produced and framed in a way that makes it is easy to get caught up in what is trending or in fashion today. Although if I had to choose one source of inspiration it would be the New York Times Travel section.


What are your favourite residential buildings in Canada (not created by you)?
The two buildings that stand out immediately are Tula and Hadaway Houses by Patkau Architects and Integral House by Shim-Sutcliffe Architects.



Tula House, Photographer James Dow



What is your best advice for someone looking to build a custom home in Canada?
Hire an Architect! Yeah, yeah, that’s what an architect would say. But when you break down relationships and incentives, it becomes clear you should invest time and thought in building your design team first and foremost. Sounds logical, but there are a variety of reasons (all short term) this is not the first thing people think to do.


What are your thoughts on the architectural culture of Canada?
Relative to our wealth and overall broader cultural investments in arts, architecture is misunderstood and undervalued. It seems counter-intuitive that the thing we spend the most money on often reflects a very narrow view of our values and what we (not just as architects) are capable of.


Integral House, Photo Courtesy of Architonic, Photographer James Dow



What advice would you share with aspiring architects?
The field of architecture is a long term investment. It requires a life long passion, where your ultimate successes are measured in decades, not just years. Be careful not to define yourself and what you do from a short term perspective.


Thank you David Grant-Rubash!

You can learn more about his designs and recent projects by visiting PHAEDRUS Studio.


Check out more from David’s favourite Canadian Architects from these articles below:

Whistler’s Hadaway House by Patkau Architects

The Shaw House By Patkau Architects In Vancouver, BC

Shantih – A Nova Scotia Getaway By Omar Gandhi Architect

The Float House By Omar Gandhi Architect In Nova Scotia

Omar Gandhi Crowns Halifax Harbour, Nova Scotia With An Ocean Perch Called Fyren

The Broad Cove Marsh Lookout On Cape Breton Island By Omar Gandhi

Black Gables By Architect Omar Gandhi On Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

Rabbit Snare Gorge In Nova Scotia By Omar Gandhi Architects + Design Base 8

Treow Brycg House In Nova Scotia By Omar Gandhi Architect


Researched and written by Sarah Wright, freelance writer and design enthusiast. 

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