This is the phrase that Éric Corbeil, co-president of the Home Society group (Maison Corbeil, Jardin de ville, MUST), likes to repeat. As Maison Corbeil celebrates its 50th anniversary, he wants the family business to stand the test of time, like beautiful, timeless designer furniture.
It was in 1973 that Colette Corbeil and her husband Raymond opened a modern furniture store. “It was the beginning of the craze for European furniture, the first store was located on rue Jean-Talon. From 1980, a landmark moment, we partnered with the French furniture manufacturer Ligne Roset,” recalls Éric Corbeil.
“My father and I met Mr. Roset several times to convince him of the benefits of an association. Ligne Roset has also been a family business since 1860 and we now work with his son Roset. In 1980, Maison Corbeil thus became an essential destination for European furniture and design, and for Ligne Roset, this presence in Montreal opened the doors to the North American market. This association still lasts. »
Over the years, Maison Corbeil has offered designer furniture, sofas, armchairs, tables, beds, chairs, desks with a modern and contemporary style. Some pieces of furniture have even become icons, such as the Togo sofa, created in the 1970s, but which was not successful upon its creation. Inspired by a tube of toothpaste, this structureless sofa, made entirely of foam, had a surprising appearance for its time.
“Her silhouette was very avant-garde. He was successful later and influenced a lot of furniture later. He started the trend of soft sofas. It is over the years that we see that furniture becomes iconic. Togo has experienced different periods of popularity, it never goes out of fashion, there are always new generations who discover it and the success is worldwide. The good thing about this piece of furniture is that it can be in different environments, in a very modern apartment or in a chalet in the countryside. This is the strength of good design,” says Éric Corbeil.
He also cites the Componibili side table, which dates from 1969 and which revolutionized the design of modular furniture with its storage compartments. “It’s a small piece of furniture that has found its mark and is still so current. Kartel, an Italian design brand, makes this piece of furniture. Kartell offers so many beautiful things, designer furniture and objects that are very successful around the world, lamps, chairs, vases…”
Éric Corbeil’s great pride is having created the MUST brand in 2005 and thus making designer furniture accessible to as many people as possible. “We did not want to remain elitist, there was the desire to democratize design with more affordable prices, local manufacturers, and to share our know-how. We’re very proud of it,” he says.
The MUST boutique spaces show attention to detail in the layout of the stores, with a varied offering of furniture, sofas, armchairs, tables, poufs, but also accessories, such as cushions, mirrors, glasses. “Our offering is varied. MUST is a brand, it’s a style that you buy, the look is modern, harmonious, very mainstream. We have a design team that is developing the brand, we are very selective and we want to extend the concept across Canada,” explains Éric Corbeil. A new MUST store has just opened in Quebec, then it will be in Mississauga by the end of the year and in Toronto at the start of 2024.
And what are the trends in the world of design and decoration? “Decoration is not like clothes, you don’t change them every season! “, exclaims the co-president. “There are large five-year periods where you see trends emerge. We are currently in a very Scandinavian period where the design is very refined, where there is wood and more curves. There are also more and more more technological fabrics which allow for fewer folds, for example on sofas, and foams are more comfortable. »
According to Éric Corbeil, Montreal is a city that is not conservative compared to other North American cities and that accepts new things very easily. “We like a change of scenery! In Europe, there is a greater tradition of furniture, the layout of a living room is constantly evolving over several years, people buy one beautiful piece at a time. Here, we are completely redoing our house and 10 years later, we want a change! So we change all the furniture in the living room, we change the style, we go from Victorian to contemporary! »