Why he’s a 2019 Top 40 Under 40:
Louis Duncan-He is a gifted interior designer, but it’s his volunteer work with PFLAG Canada that genuinely shines, and it’s changing the way members of the LGBTQ+ community see the world.
After 15 years in advertising, Louis Duncan-He shifted into lifestyle design after a chance encounter with a newly qualified physician who asked him to help redefine her style. What started as a makeover and shopping spree became a career inspiration. “Through that process, I saw how empowered she became, and that’s the piece that brings me the most joy,” he says.
Today, Duncan-He moves effortlessly between work in art, advertising and interior design. He’s also a sought-after keynote speaker. His emphasis on collaboration and his ability to connect with people makes his design input a hot commodity in the lifestyle arena. But while his career successes are certainly impressive, it’s his work with PFLAG Canada — a charity organization that offers peer-to-peer family support for those challenged by gender and sexual identity — that makes him peerless.
In 2017, Duncan-He spearheaded the development of Destination Pride, an online search platform that allows users to quickly measure a city’s attitudes toward LGBTQ+ travellers based on the local “laws, civil rights and social sentiment.” The initiative picked up 13 awards at the 2018 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, and not only makes global travel safer for members of the LGBTQ+ community but also provides essential data and benchmarks to cities who need and want to do better.
Duncan-He sees a through-line in these seemingly disparate areas of influence. “I want my brand to stand for something and to empower everyone to live beautifully,” he says. “If I can help you do that, it’s going to have a profound impact on your ability to navigate the world.”