IIxIV Menchions (l.) and Rushbrook

Seven, Toronto



II by IV creates a kinetic nightclub design.

By Julie Rekai Rickerd
Photos by David Whittaker

Inside Toronto’s hottest new nightspot Seven, colored lights glow, white banquettes shine, and hedonistic declarations adorn the mirrored walls. Such divergent design touches are the hallmarks of Canadian firm II by IV, a powerful new force in the nightclub market.

Since its formation in 1990 by designers Dan Menchions and Keith Rushbrook, II by IV has collected almost 100 awards (including six for Seven) for interior, lighting, and furniture design, and was named one of the world’s Top 50 Retail Designers by industry mag Visual Merchandising and Store Design. Menchions and Rushbrook are also three-time winners of the Designers of the Year award, presented by the Association of Registered Interior Designers of Ontario (ARIDO).

“Design magically; think practically,” is the duo’s mantra. And when it came to Seven, that axiom, combined with their interdisciplinary approach to lighting and furnishings, worked particularly well.

“Lighting is a most important part of design, and highlights its key components,” says Menchions. “Lighting creates mood, atmosphere, and contrasts: hot, cold, dark, light. In lighting we try to create a little magic, to recapture sun shining on water as light glow, or a thunderstorm as amber or gray.”

The recently completed Seven – a sexy dance destination on weekends, and private rental space during the week – uses Martin Professional lights to heighten patrons’ senses and create a “sinful” mood. Color changers reflect traditional associations with the various sins, like red for anger and green for envy. These references are first displayed in sandblasted, internally-lit lettering on mirrors at the seven landings of the club’s entrance stairway, and repeated throughout the 6,000-square-foot space.

“Sound and sights or lights are vital to any design: Seven is basically a white box manipulated by light and sound,” says Menchions. “They are the means by which you capture the senses of a demographic in concert with the goals of the client.”

Client communication is a central component of the II by IV formula, and Menchions and Rushbrook are directly involved with each of the 25 to 45 projects swirling around their offices at any given time. “Keith and I are approachable people and we really do listen,” says Menchions. “Each client is looking for something different, and their niche market is one of the things that drives the design.”

Menchions says that the intended clientele of a venue directly affects the materials he and his team choose for it. “The materials we favor are used to create ambience, theater, and experience, and depend on the type of interior being designed; the specific design propels the materials,” he says. “For something contemporary and youthful, we might use cold, shining steel and polyester. For fashionable and design-conscious living, white walls; pale stone flooring; and yards of lush, full-height white drapery contrasting with a high-gloss lipstick-red finish.”

The beautiful people that made up Seven’s dream clientele prompted Menchions and Rushbrook to create a minimalist design, dependent on transparency and light. They replaced an existing glass curtain wall, from Seven’s previous incarnation as a three-story office building, with plain, dark gray cladding to contrast the striking signage: A 40-foot, internally illuminated, wildly-colored digital image of numbers falling in perspective down to a simple horizontal panel announcing “Seven” above the main door. The main floor’s single, large open lounge area is centered by a vast, hollow, square bar lit internally in glowing chartreuse. The bar is ringed by a series of four-foot tall, internally lit, column-shaped drink tables, circled with metal foot rails. Two long perimeter walls support narrow, white vinyl-upholstered banquette bumper pads with thin back rests, concealing uplights that illuminate a line of text sandblasted into the wall-to-wall mirror above: “Reason is, and ought to be, only a slave of the passions.” This lounge area then leads to a dazzling dancefloor, overlooked by a second lounge on the mezzanine floor above.

The resulting effect, according to Seven general manager Joe Perri, is “Wow.”

II by IV’s varied influences shine through the entire design chain, from preliminary block and space planning, through presentation of a concept (“the fun part,” according to Menchions), to the working drawings, to comple-tion. “We’re inspired by everything around us,” says Menchions. “Automobiles, movies, fashion, cosmetics, you name it.”

And in the midst of their current success, II by IV’s only stress is being able to maintain their renowned level of quality from project to project. “It does get stressful once in a while because you want to do the very best for the client,” says Menchions. ”But it’s all just a matter of managing the process.”

FANTASIA More nightclub landscape by II by IV


The first club designed by the firm is a magical space of off-scale dimensions and dramatic shapes, colors, lighting, and special effects. The resulting creation has an Alice Through The Looking Glass feel: The designers call it “a fun fair for grown-ups.” The main entrance of the 15,000 square-foot space leads through a series of gateways to “a new reality”: The foyer is dominated by a circular cashier and security station that resembles the ticket booth of a movie theater. Floors and walls are painted in giant multi-colored geometrics, and bathed by the glow of an eight-foot chandelier of orange and fuschia acrylic. Doors lead from “world to world,” into a huge space with a blue-painted concrete floor, topped with a pouring of clear, shiny, metallic epoxy, that appears liquid and pulsating. Suspended bullet lamps provide lighting in lime green, cobalt, white, and pale blue. Surrounding the dancing area, cocktail tables are lit from above by theatrical projectors casting moving shapes through large, floating, translucent acrylic ellipses. Theatrical lights, smoke machines and special effects create a constantly changing display of light and pattern – a veritable kaleidoscope.


Fusion is an example of II by IV’s minimalist, cutting-edge vision, designed to attract members of the fashion and entertainment industries. Located in the heart of Toronto’s fashion district, the club is both “hot and cool, futuristic and retro.” The 8,200 square-foot space has a compact, efficient lobby and a padded entrance “tunnel” that leads to a series of lounges and the dancefloor. Narrow partitions define the spaces. Hypnotic, asynchronous wave motions are produced by concealed motors in curved panels. Over-sized bubble mirrors amplify the light and distort views of surrounding areas. Vertical, mirrored slats provide glimpses of adjacent spaces and create a fun-house reflection of activity in the lounge. Overhead lighting maximizes the iridescence of the hundreds of yards of vinyl drapery that serve as a unifying backdrop. Top and bottom-lit holographic images flicker on the vinyl-covered, mobile panels. Fiber optic cyber-flowers “blossom” from the drink rails, swaying and changing colors in time with the music. In keeping with the futuristic theme, white dominates, but is softened by hues of metallic grey, violet, baby blue, and mint green.

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Copyright 2004 Club Systems International Magazine
Copyright 2004 TESTA Communications