Profiles of Distinction

BEL AIR HOMES

BY LAURA GOLDSTEIN

Sergio GalliSergio Galli’s approach to creating designs for custom homes is expressed through an architectural vision wielding an artist’s brush. With uncompromised attention to exquisite exterior and interior detail, as president of Bel Air Homes, he strives for an understated elegance that has characterized his projects for over a decade. Using the physical tangibles of solid construction as his canvas, his designs are the conduit through which the client’s spiritual desire for comfort, security and serenity makes a house truly a home.

Modest and self-effacing, Sergio Galli likens his designs of luxury custom homes to the subtlety and clean lines of a Mercedes or the elegance of an Armani suit – in his mind’s eye, less is more. Quality over quantity. Somewhat of an anomaly in the world of Design/Build because his innate design and colour sense goes beyond traditional boundaries, crossing into interior design, Sergio Galli has always marched to a different drummer – literally!

In the 1980s, he was a guitarist with the Canadian rock band Platinum Blonde, whose four albums went gold and platinum; performed with Bryan Adams and Billy Idol and was nominated for several Juno Awards. “I had always wanted to be an architect”, he confides. “Whenever we were on the road I would study the buildings. I had always been very good at drawing and design and when the band broke up in 1989 I took a year off to think about what I really wanted to do. I knew I wanted to be a master builder. I started very small, as an apprentice and worked my way up. Soon the builders were relying on me to do just about everything. I’ve always been very self-motivated and I didn’t find the idea of starting a second career too daunting. That’s when I created Bel Air Homes.”

Sergio Galli recognizes that the cocooning trend is stronger than ever: people are actually using their homes – they are not merely showpieces. “I really enjoy the automation side of designing a home to except fibre optics. Clients want me to wire their homes for everything – from home theatres to every form of computer technology. And, they are spending more and more time in their homes entertaining, so the kitchen – not the living room has to be spectacular. But above all else, my focus has always been on comfort.”

Having designed over 150 homes in the prestigious Lorne Park, Kleinburg, Caledon and Woodbridge areas with plans to extend into the Toronto market, Sergio enjoys the personal contact with his clients that allows them to expound on their lifestyle and family in order that their home truly reflect their personalities.

“A house must evolve slowly,” he explains. “It’s important for me to listen, interpret clients’ needs and share ideas. My clients trust me and the fact that I wear so many hats they don’t have to run around searching for different suppliers because I work closely with all the sub trades. When it comes to landscaping and pools, I call the specialists in those areas.”

Sergio Galli is a man who lets his finely detailed renderings speak for themselves and in his case, a picture is truly worth a thousand words. “Sometimes when the architect, builder and designer all have their own ideas, they clash. Most builders are poor on design – they just don’t understand colour and form. For me it can’t be paint by number. Because I design and build I can forsee the natural progression and outcome of an idea and that translates into a home that’s whole and integral.”

Bel Air Homes 425 Britannia Rd.E. Mississauga, Ontario. (905) 507-1140
www.belaircustomhomes.com

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MARK RAYNES ROBERTS – RAYNES AND CO. LTD.

BY LAURA GOLDSTEIN

Mark RaynesYou can almost hear the thundering hoofs of racehorses, turf flying, every muscle and sinew distended in a gasping race to the finish line; feel the burning cold, every breath an effort to scale the ethereal Mt. Everest or the whiplash of spray from beating wings of startled Canada geese alighting on a rippled lake. Mark Raynes Roberts truly captures Tennyson’s “eternal landscape of the past” in his living crystal sculptures.

“I love to turn off all the lights in the gallery,” says Mark Raynes Roberts mysteriously. “Because that’s when my pieces truly take on a life of their own. ”Working in man-made optical crystal with a 45% lead content used in giant telescopes and space craft, Roberts’ exquisite sculptures become three-dimensional apparitions, their numerous prisms manipulating the images to relate a very personal story encapsulated forever through his superb craftsmanship.

His commissions, whether from Prime Ministers, movie director, Noman Jewison, the Archbishop of Canterbury, commemorating sports events like the acclaimed racehorse, Northern Dancer, to private corporate collections or a couple celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary, all reflect Roberts’ deep connection to people.

“I am incredibly respectful of my clients, ”confides a modest Roberts, one of the world’s leading designers and engravers who has received the British Jeweler’s Association’s top award four times. “When people come to see me, I listen intently to their stories so that I can interpret their philosophy and emotions into the crystal. For example, a sculpture entitled Family Reflections, is set in Banff, Alberta where the family spent many holidays hiking. The father, who stands atop a precipice, was facing a big change in his life. Hidden within the sculpture’s landscape are elements of each family member, including a cottage they built together and their labradour retriever. Three geese in flight depict the children leaving home”.

Roberts, who kept the entrepreneural name of his great-great grandfather’s firm of Raynes & Co., a lime quarry company established in Wales in 1873, trained as a silversmith and engraver in Britain, and immigrated to Canada at 21. He earned a living (and the lasting trust) of clients, going door to door in the tony neighbourhoods of Toronto, working late into the nights engraving their silver and jewellery. Weekends were spent developing his intricate sculptures using two ancient techniques: diamond wheel and stipple engraving.

Today, his imaginative, one-of-a-kind art pieces have become his calling card: the tiny beating wings of a hummingbird; a soaring bald eagle (it required over 150 hours of painstaking work) or a parallelogram – shaped crystal that captures a moment in time as a bald eagle snatches a leaping salmon As the viewer moves, trees reflect to become a forest and the eagle finds he has a competitor. Even more incredible is the fact that Roberts must work backwards sculpting in positives and negatives! “My training is so disciplined, ”he confides, “that I can work for hours on a piece and not realize how much time has gone by.”

Never one to rest on his laurels, Roberts is constantly thinking of new ideas. Architectural glass has become a passion. He has created a service for corporations, architects and developers, designing and etching murals on interior and exteriors of exhisting office towers and buildings and is particularly excited about the possibility of adorning major edifices with humanitarian messages.

He also designed the tennis trophy for the annual Rogers AT&T Cup. The retractable six-pound optical crystal tennis racquet embedded within a blue faux granite base, was lifted skyward to symbolize the crowning of a new champion. Roberts was inspired by the famous myth of King Arthur pulling the sword of Excalibur from the stone.

“Everything in life needs balance,” says Roberts. What I do is take something beautiful and make it extraordinary.”

Raynes And Co. Ltd. – Raynes Crystal Boutique
89 Bloor St.West. Suite 202 Toronto, Ontario. M5S 1M1 (416) 962-2100
www.markraynesroberts.com

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