Some people have the presence others can only wish for. When Tommy Smythe walks into a room, it is clear he has a stature that requires noticing. The manner in which he enters a space is full of grace and confidence, without the fog of arrogance and pretentiousness. As he sits on an elegant chair at Ribbehege & Azevedo, an antique showroom in Toronto’s Castlefield Design District, he crosses his legs and resets the frame of his glasses on his nose. He is focussed and ready to discuss the finer details of the artform of interior design.

He begins immediately by announcing that anyone could do what he does. I laugh. He’s not joking. He shifts his position and straightens his back. He continues to explain that any eye can be educated. With will and commitment, the eye can be trained to seek out unique pieces or perfect

furnishings. At that thought, his eye is caught by a beautiful mirror. He sees they are a pair and immediately comments on the rarity of that. ‘I must have seen 400,000 mirrors, actually make that 4 million…’ he observes, ‘…that’s how I know it’s rare to see a pair like that in the same room.’ The countless years of browsing stores like these has taught his eye to discover these unique items forthwith.

This aside does not assist his theory of how this can be done by anyone. The mirrors are stunning, but to me they are simply mirrors. I have probably seen thousands of mirrors in my lifetime, but to be able to pick out a rare one, I cannot. Tommy quickly points out that if I had looked at those mirrors with a different eye then maybe I would be able to. Seeing mirrors or other pieces of furniture or decor is not enough—the eye must look, focus, and study.