J&M: How did you come across JM&Sons, and what attracted you to us?
Michael Russo: I had just purchased a loft and was spending a lot of time visiting furniture stores, looking for the first few pieces for my new place. I was taking my time with these because I knew that they would set the tone for the entire space.
This search happened to overlap with the first JM&Sons pop-up shop/ shipping container that was running on Dundas St W. in September 2013. Coincidentally, one of the people that I follow on Instagram attended and posted a photo inside the shipping container.
I hopped on the street car to head over to the pop-up shop, and loved what I saw — especially the craftsmanship, the attention to detail, the materials, and how unique each piece is. My place is concrete everywhere (floors, walls, ceiling), and the reclaimed wood adds a great deal of warmth and character.
I struck up a conversation with Junior, and a few days later both Junior and Mackenzie dropped by the place for a beer and to get a feel for the space and to give some recommendations. We started with a dining table — The Royal — and have been slowly adding more and more pieces (currently at 7, and counting!).
It’s been an absolutely fantastic experience working with the team.
J&M: What item / items do you use on a daily basis?
I use almost every piece on a daily basis. That being said, my top two are The Royal dining table, and the custom patio table on my terrace.
I’m currently enamoured with the patio table. In an effort to take as much advantage of the summer weather as possible, I eat as many breakfasts and dinners outside as I can, and on most mornings I even get some work done outside on the patio table before I head to the office.
The Royal is a defining piece in my space and a constant source of compliments. It’s key for dinner parties, and is generally in heavy use whenever I’m not outside on the patio.
J&M: Tell us a bit around your background, where you’re from and what you do?
I’m a tech entrepreneur. I’m a co-founder of a Toronto software startup called Polar (we used to go by the name Polar Mobile). I studied Computer Engineering at the University of Waterloo. We started the company out of our dorm rooms in 2007 and have been focused on the business ever since.
I grew up in Thornhill, Ontario and have an Italian background.
J&M: What's next for you?
Screenwriting is my go-to hobby. I’m currently working on a spec for a feature length film that I’m extremely excited about — it’s a science fiction/ political drama, and writing it has been both challenging and exhilarating.
I’m also really enjoying photography. (Trying to channel my inner Mackenzie!)
J&M: What is the best trip you’ve been on, for work or pleasure?
During university, I drove the Californian coast with two of my best friends. We started in in the redwood forests north of San Francisco, and slowly made our way down Route 1 to San Diego. We had a lot of time and no itinerary, nothing planned, nothing booked (except the return ticket); we figured it out along the way and didn’t have a care in the world. Really a great way to experience California.
J&M: Why is design so important in your life?
Over the years, I’ve come to develop a really intense appreciation for well-made things.
Design is such a crucial element of the creation process — and there’s this internal struggle that designers face when they create something great, when they battle to simplify an idea to its core, when they work within the bounds of difficult constraints — and I really appreciate products that are shaped through this sort of design struggle.
This bias is reflected in the products that I use on a day-to-day basis (physical and digital alike).
J&M: What is your favorite Scotch?