Notable.ca has partnered with Grey Goose, the World’s Best Tasting Vodka, to celebrate an exclusive series of Grey Goose Notables: young professionals and entrepreneurs who are influential taste-makers. For the next 10 weeks, we will feature two unique Notables who have made it – young professionals who have reached success beyond their years. We’ll show you how these Notables enjoy what they’ve earned – how they entertain friends, where they travel, what drives them from the office to the golf course – and how they celebrate life and all it has to offer. So, raise a glass as we toast to the Grey Goose Notables…
Andrew Bockner is one half of the brother duo that comprises Andrew Richard Designs – not surprisingly, the other half is sibling Richard. While designing and creating fine furniture for chic outdoor and living spaces is deeply rooted in Andrew’s history – his parents started Cana-Foam Products Inc. in 1964 – the road to this career path wasn’t as clear as it may seem.
Andrew started his post-secondary education at the University of Western Ontario, after which he chose to proceed to Toura Law School in Long Island. His schooling led him to become an attorney in New York, but after a year and a half in the Big Apple Andrew returned to Toronto where he continued to work at a law firm.
But, ever the artist, Andrew grew weary, and after two years working at the firm, decided to travel to Thailand and Southeast Asia, where he felt inspiration seeping through his pores. He started drawing, and before long was making furniture. It was well-received, and after he started doing design for commercial and outdoor spaces – and after having his work outfit three hotels in Tahiti – Andrew knew he was on the track towards something exceptional.
When he returned to Toronto, Andrew decided to use his well-honed business acumen as well as his design sensibilities. Coincidentally, his brother Richard was finishing up a contract, and the two decided to begin working together. Not long after, Andrew Richard Designs was born.
Fast forward just under nine years, and Andrew Richard Designs is a top furniture brand with clients like the Ritz Carlton and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. Andrew designs for “people’s enjoyment of the piece,” and for what it’s like to “see my furniture out in the environment – in a hotel or home or commercial space.”
Andrew’s goal with his designs is to create the ultimate lifestyle pieces that do more than just provide form and function; they’re evocative constructions. Andrew Richard Designs has a strong focus on fine outdoor furniture because it’s a part of life that “we need to embrace more…to learn to unwind and relax, and make an oasis.”
Looking towards the future, Andrew has his sights set on grandeur, and continuing to make some of the most unique and beautiful pieces in the world. Andrew is a Notable, and to him, notable is “always trying to improve and enhance lifestyle and create environments that are comfortable and accessible. We deserve more. We deserve an enhanced leisure experience.”
If there was one location that every person must see what would it be? Why?
The islands of Thailand, specifically Koh Pha Ngan. It might sound cliché, but I saw a peacefulness and tranquility that I haven’t seen anywhere else in the world. It came at a perfect time for me so maybe that is why I am so attracted to it. I do think that anyone in the right frame of mind can draw some great inspiration from a place like this. I think the local culture and people is something to be admired. The Thai people seem to live in a calm and simple way which is very comforting, coming from such a fast paced world. It makes you stop and appreciate life in a different way.
What is your general life philosophy/ what advice would you want to share with others?
I like to work hard and I love that I get enjoyment from my work. I also appreciate that my work brings out some of my passions in life. I enjoy life with that same kind of passion. I feel that I have worked hard for everything that I have and for everything I can now enjoy. If I were to give any advice, something I have learned is that there is no such thing as easy money or get-rich-quick plans. Everything takes time and hard work and attention to detail to find success. There is never any time to rest on previous accomplishments. I feel like you have to keep growing, learning, and evolving to keep things interesting and enjoyable and to stay on top of your game.
How do you enjoy life? What are some of your life indulgences?
I enjoy the outdoors and what nature has to offer. I enjoy time at the cottage as well as canoe tripping. I find that canoe tripping really makes some of the things in life that we might take for granted on a daily basis so real and so necessary and helps me to stay grounded and focused on what is really important. Tripping is about survival, it’s raw in that sense and I feel that it really takes me away and makes some of the things that we find so necessary on a daily basis…so unnecessary! I’m talking about our phones and calls and emails and text messages and constant communication. I dropped my phone in a water feature at a trade show a few years ago and decided not to replace it for about a month. Though it probably was not the wisest business decision I’ve ever made, it was really peaceful not to have that little thing running my life!
In terms of indulgences, I love to travel and I am a sucker for cool hotels and unique hotel experiences. I love to “upgrade” when traveling – I’m such a consumer in that sense and like to enjoy the best hospitality experience that my hotel of choice has to offer. I know it’s a bit crazy, but this is how I indulge.
Please describe what entertaining looks like to you? What makes the perfect host?
To me, entertaining is about creating an atmosphere and experience and feeling for your guest that appropriately suits the occasion. I think this is true whether you are entertaining a few buddies for a ballgame or 1,000 people for a film festival event. I believe it’s about creating a space in which people feel themselves and feel comfortable. I love to provide the amenities and food and drinks and entertainment to allow my guests to enjoy and have their own great personal experience within the environment that I have created. I like to be a gracious host and to give my guests a unique and memorable experience each time.
What is more important when entertaining; the space, or the people in the space, and why?
Obviously one would be expected to answer the people. In certain instances, when I am entertaining for a smaller more intimate group of friends, family, or colleagues, it’s always about who is there and enjoying those times with those people. However, I find when I am involved in designing and creating larger functions for large groups of people, I take a lot of interest in how the space looks and feels and flows. I like to envision the experience the guest will have while including some great visual elements for them to enjoy.
Do you cook? If yes, what is your best dish?
I do love to cook but I don’t get to do it as much as I’d like. I love great comfort food. Who doesn’t? So I have actually started a small dinner/cooking group. I decide on a dish (recent ones have been the mini burger, pizza, poutine) and bring about 6-7 couples/teams together and have a night of drinks fun and competition. Each couple has 20 minutes in the kitchen to do their prep, plating, and service. I hire a sous chef to help them along in the kitchen. Everyone brings their own ingredients and preps a unique and hopefully delicious dish. For example, if we are doing mini burgers that night, everyone is coming with their best mini burger recipe. Each team scores other teams on creativity, taste, presentation, and we have a blast. You wouldn’t believe what people come up with. I find that with the “fun” of competition and bragging rights, people really step it up to the next level. I think the competition pushes you to go a bit beyond your comfort zone in the kitchen and I love how creative people get and what one can discover about their ability to cook.
What is one of your favourite lounge restaurants? Why?
Posada Margherita in Tulum, Mexico. It’s owed and run by a few young Italians that originally came to Tulum to be diving instructors. They set up a chilled-out little resort, restaurant/lounge on the beach and cook food that is so fresh and delicious. The atmosphere is relaxed that even one of the owners comes to sit at your table to verbally list out the menu that changes every night. They usually do a couple of pasta dishes, a seafood dish, and a fish. It doesn’t matter what you have – it’s all great. I can’t explain why but I have never tasted Italian food this good in Italy. They have an outstanding wine selection and it is easy to hang out there all night sipping wine and taking it in. They treat everyone as part of the family when there and the energy is completely chill.