A trip to Vancouver’s recently opened Suquet Interiors may leave you feeling a tad thrown off.
Although the shop’s immaculately staged entrance—all sleek, contemporary lines anchored by natural elements like a living green wall, traditional stone fireplace, and teak-root-based coffee table—suggests you’ve stumbled across the ’hood’s hippest home-furnishings stop, rows of reclaimed-wood sunnies, full-grain leather totes, and walls bursting with an eclectic assortment of art scream otherwise.
“That’s what we want,” Rick Bohonis, cofounder of Suquet Interiors, tells the Straight alongside business partner Ramon Masana Tapia during an interview at the Yaletown retailer (101–1014 Homer Street). “We want you to be a little bit confused at first until you walk in and get a better picture of what this is.”
It’s not a strategy recommended by Starting a Small Business for Dummies by any means, but then again, Suquet isn’t exactly new to Vancouver either. Founded in the mid ’80s by architect couple Ramon Masana and Georgina Tapia—and titled after Masana’s mother’s maiden name—the company was originally known for its ornate stone pieces.
Handcrafted from 32 containers of rubble that Masana shipped to Vancouver from Mexico City following the earthquake of 1985, these fireplaces and archways live on in Vancouver homes, restaurants, and, most notably, the magnificent façade of South Granville boutique Boboli.
“We’re bringing more of a contemporary style to the store this time,” says Tapia, son of Georgina and the late Ramon, who has resurrected Suquet following a six-year hiatus. “My mom always wanted to kind of innovate and bring in more modern pieces, but my dad was always strict about saying no and ‘We’re only doing rustic, because that’s what we’re known for.’ ”
Partnering with Bohonis, former president and cofounder of Urban Barn, Tapia has managed to craft a fresh concept for the brand while holding firmly onto its roots. The bright, 4,200-square-foot space is brimming with high-end finds from both at home and abroad, which the duo curate collaboratively.
Handmade ceramics from Vietnam, buttery Italian sofas, and collapsible camping chairs and travel bags from Texas Rover are all part of the shop’s evolving stock, while works by local artists such as Tanya Slingsby, Justin Ogilvie, and Cindy Fair decorate the walls.
Tapia and Bohonis even commissioned Vancouver-based mosaic artist Jason Dussault to create a Spider-Man–inspired surfboard that sits by the front door and are currently in the process of approaching B.C. “furniture artists” to design exclusive collections for the store. “In trying to make this as different and eclectic in style as we possibly could, we wanted to try and mix as many things as we could without losing sight that we’re a home-furnishings store,” says Bohonis.
Prices for Suquet’s furnishings, art, and décor range wildly, from $40 for a hand-poured acrylic sugar heart by local artist John Clair Watts to $1,900 for a live-edge, teak-and-stainless-steel dining table to $20,000 for a mosaic portrait of Pablo Picasso by Dussault.
However, it’s the seemingly priceless wares—stone fireplaces cast from moulds of the original pieces that gave Suquet its design cred, vibrant landscape paintings by Tapia’s mother, and vintage issues of architecture, fashion, and design magazines from her personal collection—that reveal the shop’s storied history in a way few other retailers can.
“We like stories,” says Bohonis. “We’ve got a great story with Ramon’s parents, and the heritage and legacy of the original Suquet.” Tapia agrees. “They give meaning to the business,” he adds.