I sat adjacent to Constantine Tohme at a large wood table in his open concept live/work studio. As we settled in and exchanged introductions, I scanned his apartment - gazing at the various pieces of furniture, lighting, and art objects that seem to pull me in with an unapologetic magnetism. As a diplomatic child of the age of technology, I mentally “hearted” many of his pieces. “I’ve always had an interest in aesthetics and the placement of things… That [interest] came from not really having my own space. So, when I got one, I thought, ‘Everything has to have a place’,” Constantine said in response to my reaction. Within a relatively short period of time, Constantine has reserved a pot for himself within the design community under the name Black Flag Co., and I daresay he has already earned a spot in the modern home.
Constantine is originally from St.Lucia but moved to Toronto when he was just 16 years old. Since then, he has traveled the globe gathering inspiration from multiple continents in all their eccentricities. Two years ago he returned to Toronto to attend the Institute of Traditional Medicine, where he continues his studies and designs as a hobby. “Toronto is the BEST… There are a lot of opportunities here if you work hard… it isn’t saturated like other cities.” Since moving back to Toronto in 2012, Constantine finally had the opportunity to imagine a home - his own home - designed to his taste. That is where it all began, “I didn’t want any IKEA,” Constantine announced with utmost sincerity. Tohme gravitated towards wood and concrete and began questioning their properties and their use within modern and traditional furnishings, “I had these materials and I would ask myself, what can I do with this?” Upon review of his growing collection of works in progress, one can see repetition in the use of wood pieces to create geometric patterns as table tops, fluorescent tubes arranged into prisms, and the beginnings of imprinting on concrete. Herringbone becomes a motif on many of his tables, which he refers to as “Modern Americana”.
Constantine has absorbed as much information as he can by talking to different designers, cabinet makers, and carpenters around the city to get a better understanding of materials and, of course, construction. He bought his first electric saw and sander (which he mentioned with sheer enthusiasm), and started building in his studio before finding a shop just a few blocks from his house, where he now has access to a full workshop. Constantine notes that his work continues to become more refined as he gains familiarity with new tools. “I’ve figured out a way to essentially cut the [weight of the] material in half using secondary forms,” Tohme added, upon our discussion on his concrete slab tables. His willingness to learn is most admirable and is paving the way for an awakening in the age old form vs. function debate.
Wave your white flags and take a chance on Black Flag Co. as founder, Constantine Tohme, works in stride to help us all live more beautifully, with furniture worth “hearting”.
WRITTEN BY: JOHNATHAN BRODERICK
PHOTOS BY: KYLE KOFSKY
CINEMATOGRAPHY: BRAD SILVERBERG
PRODUCT TV TORONTO