Partners in life and business for more than
30 years, Dan Menchions and Keith Rushbrook
own and operate Toronto-based II BY IV
DESIGN, a name chosen as a tribute to a
collaborative spirit and an essential building
block of construction. The duo’s innovative
and eye-popping work is represented on four
continents. The modern hospitality industry is
one of their specialties, with hotels, stadiums,
cruise ships, restaurants, and condominium
developments all bearing II BY IV DESIGN’s
distinctive mark. In addition, high-end, instantly
recognizable brands’ retail spaces, highlighted
by Menchions’ and Rushbrook’s elegant and
comfortable standards, are in capital cities
around the world. Winners of multiple design
awards, last year in London II BY IV DESIGN
took home the prestigious ABB LEAF (Leading
European Architecture Forum) Award in
international design in two categories, including
Overall Winner of the Year.
The reach of their reputation landed them a
contract to be part of the extensive renovations
of Yankee Stadium, with the firm creating
a 37,000-square-foot space that encloses
restaurants, bars, and clubs. II BY IV DESIGN
also has established its own product lines
in luxury goods and amenities.
Living and working in downtown Toronto,
Menchions and Rushbrook are in their
Manhattan studio at least one week out of
every six. i+D caught up with the couple at their
i+D: What’s the first thing you notice
getting off the plane from Toronto and landing
in New York?
Rushbrook: Busy. (Both laugh) Busy, busy.
Menchions: And, we’re very happy LaGuardia
is finally renovating.
i+D: How did you two meet?
Rushbrook: Dan was offered a freelance job
where I worked and asked me to help him. And,
I did. We worked on separate drafting boards and
said, “Let’s get together in a couple of hours.”
We had some Depeche Mode on, great coffee,
and after two hours we looked and saw we had
come up with exactly the same design.
Menchions: We’re a rare couple who spends
24/7 together and have through almost 30 years.
Someone asked recently, “Life, work, travel
together, how do you guys do it?” I said, “How
do we not do it?”
i+D: The Yankees are so keyed to tradition—
did you have to consider how to satisfy the
diehard keepers of the eternal Yankees flame?
Menchions: Let’s say you don’t venture too far
from the brand. There are two shades of Yankees
blue and those are the shades you use. But, we
were able to work with them, and successfully
expand their brand in a different way. There are
nods to the historic nature of the Yankees and
bringing that into the future.
i+D: There’s been a sea change in designing
living spaces, with designers catching up to
ideas that some young adults are reluctant
to leave the nest, multiple generations are
living together, and the “tiny house” movement
is rising. What challenges do these cultural
Rushbrook: The first challenge is understanding
the relationship between parent and child. You’ll
always be a child to your parents no matter what
age you are. So, living together, there have to be
boundaries and independence.
Menchions: If you’re in a house or a
condominium development, there can be
individual apartments for privacy. We’re seeing
generations within condos, with parents in one
suite, grandparents in another, and children in
another. It’s a great way to look after each other,
be near each other, and still have a real sense
Rushbrook: We’ve designed the first micro condos
in Canada, called Smart House. Some units of
253 square feet, or 758 square feet with two
bedrooms, two bathrooms. It’s learning how to
be creative with small spaces, whether you’re a
single person or a family.
i+D: What’s the first thing you designed
Rushbrook: Growing up in New Brunswick,
there were lots of woods around us and we’d get
up in the morning and be outside playing for the
entire day. We’d build tree forts.
Menchions: I grew up an urban kid here in Toronto,
so we’d use furnishings to create interior forts.
i+D: Designing a restaurant—what’s the
Menchions: Who is the clientele?
Rushbrook: What is the menu? What is the price
of the food? What is the neighborhood?
Menchions: That cliché of designing only for
the client? We really do.
i+D: Of course, you design for the client, but
don’t you design for yourself, for your own
Menchions: Not at all. We’re not ego designers.
It’s something we learned early in our careers.
When someone would critique our work, we’d
take it personally. Finally we said, “This isn’t
for us.” I have to remind our young designers
to not design for themselves, to think about
who you’re designing for and don’t take their
i+D: What do you always have with you?
Rushbrook: My black Moleskine Notebook—it
has to have an envelope in the back to put papers,
things I’ve ripped from magazines—and a black
i+D: Do you work too hard?
Menchions: It’s our life; we don’t know any
different. It took us a long time to understand the
work levels of people we work with and what
the expectations are for them.
Rushbrook: We’re the first two in the studio every
day and we have about 90 minutes before the staff
comes in. We crank the music and get caught up.
i+D: What are you listening to these days?
Rushbrook: (Laughing) What ever the young
ones are. We have really crazy rock, or Top 40.
Some of it’s jazzy, electronic. Everything.
i+D: What was your first job?
Menchions: When I was five or six, I made
paintings and sold them door-to-door.
i+D: Lessons learned?
Menchions: Start early and go door-to-door.
It will lead to a lot of places.
i+D: What do you disregard when looking at a
job applicant’s résumé?
Rushbrook: I don’t disregard anything. But, what
I’m most interested in is what they do when they’re
not working. What are they reading? Where do
they and their friends go when they go out to eat?
And, I always ask: “If I turned off your computer,
where would you go for inspiration?” With
Pinterest and design blogs, everyone is looking
at the same thing.
i+D: What’s your sport?
Menchions: (Laughing) We do yoga three
times a week. We were addicted to working out
for many years, but gave it up because we were
in so much pain.
i+D: Do you ever unplug?
Rushbrook: That would be on an airplane.
Because (Laughing) sometimes, the technology
doesn’t work. But, I really like that time.
Menchions: And, on the other side of the world.
With different time zones and the rest of the
is the editor of the Shelter Island Reporter
and a novelist, nonfiction author, and
journalist. His work has appeared in GQ ,
The Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times.