Nakashima Opening

July 30th, 2013


Last week on Wednesday night we opened our doors for the opening reception of the first Nakashima retrospective in Canada. We had an incredible turn-out and we thank everyone who took the time to visit and say hello to us and the Yarnall-Nakashima family.



An Ikebana bowl specially made by Masanobu Ando, and a flower arrangement by Mira Nakashima with flowers from Coriander Girl. So beautiful!


Conoid dining chairs made with walnut and carved hickory pickets.


Beautiful lounge chairs in cherry with maple burl arms.


Asa-no-ha cabinet with a Conoid coffee table in front. Tea ceremony tools by Masanobu Ando.


Large vase by Uchida Kouichi on the left, and Urushi tea containers, and tooled tray by Shingo Tsukuda.


A Mira box / jewelry box.

Nakashima belongs in our showroom.





The most beautiful wood boxes and trays by Tsukuda Shingo.


The tori arch of the Conoid Bench.


A special vase by Japanese potter Uchida Kouichi resting on the edge of the bench.


Hand tooled wooden trays by Tsukuda Shingo.



Peeking into the rarely photographed back half of our showroom.



Tea Ceremony bowls and trays made by Masanobu Ando.


A unique collection of Calligraphy tools made by Masanobu Ando for the exhibition. Mira Nakashima was nice enough to lend us her Calligraphy brushes for the exhibition display.



One of our favourite collections in the exhibition, the desk, the Captain’s chair and the table lamp are spectacular. Hovering above is a silver glazed cross by Masanobu Ando. Ando-san doesn’t have a connection to the cross, but he saw many on a trip to Europe and thought they would make a nice wall flower vase.


Grass-seated chairs with a wall hanging cabinet.


Ultimo bench with Japanese indigo fabric.



Minguren end table with vase by Uchida Kouichi.




Black copper glazed lidded statues by Uchida Kouichi.


Hand chiseled black urushi coated tableware by famous wood craftsman Ryuji Mitani.



A collection of hammered silver works by Mami and Takejiro Hasegawa.




The Opening reception with Mira Nakashima in her summer Yukata.








A collection of woodworkers (including our architect Peter Tan) nerding out ;)




The two Johns – John Baker & Jon Yarnall (Mira’s husband, woodworker and head of the Nakashima chair department).

A big thank you to:

Fielding Estate Winery - your wine was highly complimented all evening. Thank you for helping make our evening a special success.

Sali Tabacchi – we adore your innovative program design!

Mira and Jon Yarnall, Maria and Maya for coming to Toronto to be a part of this historic event.

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Tomii Takashi: 1 week away!

June 18th, 2013


Please mark your calenders! Next Wednesday on June 26th we are  presenting the first North American exhibition for Japanese wood artisan Tomii Takashi. The evening reception starts from 7:00 – 10:00pm, and Tomii Takashi is flying here all the way from Japan to attend the opening and meet you all.

We just received a sizable collection of work that will be making it’s debut next week, and everything is incredible. I took the liberty to photograph a sampling of what to expect come opening night, all of the pieces in this post and many more will be available for sale (and not before).

Anyone who loves wood should be in attendance to this show, please invite your friends.

Here is our little write up for the exhibition:

Tomii Takashi is known as a prodigy in Japan and is quickly becoming one of the most recognized wood workers in his field. His work exhibits very clean modern forms that are contrasted by soft tool marks. These marks leave a connection to the maker, and also reveal that such refined work can be made by the hand.
Tomii Takashi’s interest in woodworking began during his one year stay in Vernonia, Oregon where forestry is the key industry. After coming back to Japan in 1995, he started to carve kitchen tools such as butter knives, spatulas, and spoons out of twigs he gathered in the nearby hills. Although he dedicated himself to science experiments throughout his student years, he was inclined to cook and collect kitchenware, ceramics, and wooden tools and furniture. Gradually he started to dream of living by making wooden tableware, and finally in 2002 when he was 25, left graduate school and entered the “Shinrin Takumi Juku” where he learned solid wood furniture making for 2 years. He then worked for Oak Village in Gifu.

In 2008, Tomii moved to Shigaraki, Shiga prefecture and started creating wooden tableware for daily use in his workshop in Minamiyamashiro, Kyoto. All of his pieces are hand tooled or turned on a lathe into very simple and beautiful shapes.

Tomii lives with his wife, Miyuki who helps his work, a daughter and a son. They are enjoying their everyday lives surrounded by rich nature.


Incredibly deep bread trays made from one solid block of chestnut.


Hand chiseled oak tray, with small sakura dish and lotus spoons.


Large Japanese white urushi lacquer-ware bowls


Tomii Takashi will see you next Wednesday!

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The Read: Mjolk Volume II

June 17th, 2013


What an exciting week! We received the printed copies of Mjolk Volume II, and I’m always so amazed at how good the photos look after being printed. Photographs must long to be printed because there is just something that doesn’t translate to screen viewing.

After grabbing a copy for ourselves, it is a ritual for us to go over the entire book as if we are reading it for the first time. Of course we have read the book over and over, but there is something about turning the pages of the finished version that is like experiencing the book for the first time, and getting into the head space of a new reader.

There are some notable changes, we went from around 104 pages in our first book to a whopping 144 pages in the second. Of course we are still advert free, so it’s 144 pages of pure content. We’ve also learned a lot from the first book, and know what we liked and what we didn’t like. Based on these decisions we decided to focus on editorial content only, shifting from a magazine / catalog hybrid to a proper book. Last but not least I think the overall voice is clearer, as this time we set out to do the interviews and photographs while the first time was more of a mosaic from our personal travel photos.

We’ve started sending our books to our faithful stockists already, so if you’re in a city and want to get a copy of the new issue we appreciate you being patient to support your local retailers. If we’re not carried in your city yet (and there’s a good chance that we aren’t) please let your local book or special interest shop know! We’ve been picked up numerous times because of customers who wanted to buy it locally.

Above: The Nakashima article, with a tour of the Nakashima studio and houses complemented by an interview with Mira Nakashima. The Nakashima exhibit at Mjölk is July 24 (runs for about a month). Mira Nakashima will be in attendance.




The cover which is the entrance to wood artisan Tomii Takashi’s home. I hope to introduce you all to Tomii when he visits us next week on Wednesday, June 26th, for his first solo exhibition in North America!

To pick up a copy of Mjölk Volume II, visit our webshop or come into the store!

To see stockists visit here, at the bottom of the page.

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Mjölk Volume 2, at the printers

June 12th, 2013
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Last Thursday I went with Emily Tu, our book designer, to the press approval for Mjölk Volume 2. It was my first time going (John went last time) and I got to see what a big job printing these books is.

We get it printed at Warren’s Waterless Waterless Printing, thanks to our friends over at Pure Green Magazine, who suggested it. We like that it’s printed locally, so that we can see the paper, process, and proofs, plus they are environmentally responsible. All that AND they are the same price as others quoted (in Toronto).

Above we discuss the proofs, which are unfortunately on coated paper, which makes it tricky to tell exactly how it will be on our paper stock. This is unfortunately industry standard and the paper manufacturer has no ambition to offer an uncoated proofing paper.


The aluminum plates (our book had about 9). The plates are etched directly from the computer, so there are actually images and type all over the green, but because the ink hasn’t touched it yet you cannot see it. Where you see the black writing is where Dave, the production manager, put a felt tip marker to it.

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After approving the cover, they ran it. On the left is the black plate. On the right is the stack of covers.


The press, plus the black and blue plate. Each of the three colours and black have their own plate.



Running some recycled paper through to prime the press.


Ink pots.

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Removing a page from the press.

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Then the technician places it on a table where the colour bands along the side get analyzed by a computer (left), then transfers the paper to another table where they can make adjustments to how much ink is distributed along each plate (right).



This was pretty impressive, as a lot of decisions have to be made here. Of course it’s nice for a client to sign off on all pages, but we weren’t able to hang out until 3am!


The ubiquitous calendar / clock (that isn’t a clock) shop shot.

Thank you to Dave who took the time to show us around!

Mjölk Volume 2 is arriving this afternoon, just in time since we have sold out of Volume 1!

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Rainy days

June 11th, 2013



Toddlers are notoriously terrible with staying cooped up indoors.  What to do with all these rainy days we’ve been having? Any and all suggestions welcome…places to go, things to do at home.

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Kazumi Tsuji Dinner

June 6th, 2013


On their last night staying with us, Kazumi Tsuji cooked dinner. Kazumi lived in San Francisco so her cooking is a mash up between Japanese, American, and Italian.



We used a mish mash of tableware: Teema (for some reason we only own four cereal bowls, but there were six of us), beautiful lacquer bowls bought from Sabita in Sapporo on our honeymoon, Kazumi Tsuji glasses, Masanobu Ando plates…Japanese cooking is all about the small and many plates, so it’s fun to get to use an assortment of beautiful pieces in one sitting.

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(Clockwise from top left)
Mussles in a white wine and garlic sauce
Spinach salad with toasted sesame seeds
Eggplant and zucchini, hands down the crowd favourite. I wish I knew what she did!!!
Tomato, steak and onion…stew?

It was such a treat to have Kazumi cook for us!

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