Yes, you didn’t read that title wrong. We are back picking up where we left off 6 years ago, when we first started renovating our clapboard cottage on Georgian Bay.
So much has happened in that time, the short of it being:
We opened Mjölk
Had 2 kids
These are significant milestones and as you get older and your family begins to grow, your needs tend to change. When we started our first renovation we did all of the work ourselves, and of course we were limited by our abilities and had to use some ingenuity to get the job done. Hence the crafty plywood walls (I didn’t know how to drywall) and the relentless use of white paint on the floors, walls, doors and ceilings.
We’ve reached a point that some of our initial handy work is starting to get a little shabby looking, and this summer we decided to do some aesthetic and functional renovations.
Above: A photo of some work in progress: new sconces for the mantel, repurposed from two of the bedrooms.
One of the biggest changes we have made is we cladded the entire interior of the cottage with tongue and groove pine painted white. We also painted the blue doors out white.
It now looks incredibly Swedish and has given the space a whole new energy!
The sexiest change is definitely the kitchen, which has been a source of frustration for us during the past few summers. Our small work kitchen was perfect when it was just the two of us but now with two kids we are cooking in portions to feed four each meal, and when we have guests over this number can easily reach over 10 people. Our sweet deal of a find under counter fridge died THREE years ago (we’ve been running back and forth to the guest cottage) and no one would service it (too good to be true I guess). As a result, we had to get a regular sized fridge which completely compromises our counter space.
We took a look at the configuration of the cottage and ultimately decided to move the entire kitchen(!!!), and in the process come up with an entire new design.
A couple of teaser additions are in the photo above: I am not going to lie, I have always wanted a SMEG fridge. I can’t believe they are still made in Italy, and the design is just so endearing. The jewelry so to speak is the unlacquered brass faucet resting on top which will be wall-mounted. We got this faucet from Addision’s here in Toronto, which is a fascinating architectural and antique plumbing store. I think it is made from two different fixtures put together by the owner so we could achieve a super long faucet.
You may also be wondering what will replace the old kitchen – we have zero storage so we thought some large wardrobes would be perfect, making the space more of an entryway instead of a bottleneck.
We’re looking forward to sharing the results with you as we get the work done!
In the meantime, if you want to see some of this stuff live as it happens please follow our Instagrams:
Many of the painting depict everyday life with a nod to Scandinavian design and lifestyle. We ended up buying a couple of paintings after seeing the OEN blog post, and after seeing a recent batch of new works decided to round out the collection with three.
The one above is a newer work with figs, these shapes are cut out and painted and placed back on the wooden canvas to give it more depth.
These shapes remind us of Alvar Aalto’s Savoy vase.
This one is inspired by the Tea Trolley by Alvar Aalto which is one of our favorite pieces of furniture.
Also in this photo: The Spoke-back sofa by Borge Mogensen for Fredericia, a pillow from Marimekko, a Zebra pillow by Alvar Aalto for Artek, a blanket by Inga Sempe for RorosTweed and a Moroccan Berber rug. All items available from Mjolk.
We’re very excited for porcelain artist Alissa Coe’s solo exhibition, happening here at Mjölk in just two days!
We’ve received some finished samples to photograph and the work is incredible! Please come out to our opening reception this Wednesday, May 6th from 7:00pm – 10:00pm.
A collection of work in porcelain inspired by the power and primordial nature of geometric form.
With this body of work I have attempted to create a primal feeling, as if each piece could have existed from the beginning of time, encapsulating all the strength and fragility of nature in the quality of the forms and materials.
- Alissa Coe
If you haven’t already had a chance to watch any of the City of Makers episodes, we would recommend watching Alissa’s first. This interview happened during the beginning stages of her work for this exhibition, and you can get a glimpse into her inspirations and hints at what might be in the exhibition.
The image above is a sampling of the vessels and tableware that was made specifically for the show in primary shapes, made from thin white nearly translucent porcelain. She will also be presenting a 6′ long ceiling sculpture and a 6′ tall pyramid sculpture.
Large hexagonal flower vessels.
Elements water carafe and tumblers, a collaboration between Alissa Coe and Vincent Joseph Montastero.
Hand thrown cone vase.
A grouping of three hand thrown vases.
Black glazed hand thrown vessels with distorted lip.
Some photos of Alissa’s studio during the process of creating works for the exhibition.
The rough porcelain components of the pyramid sculpture.
Various plaster moulds and nearly finished pieces.
Are you familiar with the book “Scandinavian Modern” written by Chrystina Schmidt and Magnus England? It contains some beautiful interiors of some of the most notable designers and architects in Scandinavia spanning from mid-century homes to current dwellings. The photograph above is from my favourite article, which is the home of Børge and Alice Mogensen, it is especially beautiful since the home itself (designed by Børge Mogensen) is a beautiful blend of Danish and Japanese design sensibilities, and also includes all their personal effects and art, all in perfect harmony within the space.
The photograph above is of particular significance, as you can see it has been opened to this page so many times the binding has broken which means when opening the book it naturally wants you to settle here. This is where we show a lot of our customers what a Mogensen sofa will look like in 40+ years, and how natural materials get better with age. It also in some ways gave us the courage to buy our own 2213 sofa, and as a direct result of that experience of buying a sofa from Denmark and having a lot of trouble during the process bringing it over to Canada, it gave us the idea to open our own shop bringing in Scandinavian furniture and crafts from Japan.
I don’t know how many times I’ve looked at these images of Mogensen’s home, first obsessing over the furniture, and then the rugs and pottery, trying to find out who designed them… Then the artwork on the wall, who made these pieces? Particularly that purple modernist painting… How would you ever go about finding the name of the artist?
Unfortunately Alice Mogensen died a few years ago, and the home was sold along with all of the personal contents which were sold at auction. For better or worse, the home has found a new and different life, and we will never get to see it as it once was.
I personally think the Mogensen home should have become a museum like Finn Juhl’s home, or Alvar Aalto, but of course I don’t know the circumstances and cannot speculate further. If these pieces were to disperse around the world it would seem very fitting that fate would find us and give us the opportunity to secure the exact painting we had been so captivated by in Mogensen’s home for years.
Recently I was searching for Mogensen pieces online and serendipitously stumbled across a listing for this exact painting!
The artist is Albert Mertz, and the name of the painting is “The Abandoned Space”, painted in 1962 and presented during an exhibition in Denmark, of work that the Danish painter had done while living in Paris. All of the other paintings in the room are also by Albert Mertz, possibly acquired from the same opening.
The Spanish chair in front of the painting.
Our new-ish Mogensen 2213 sofa slowly turning that famous cognac colour, although it will take many more years.
We feel very lucky to be able to have this work in our home, and have a little part of the interior that inspired us so much in our life.
For the first 5 years of having our store Mjolk, we never offered beds. It seemed like our small showroom wouldn’t be able to display such a large item, and we ourselves didn’t own a bed frame. When people came to us looking for the perfect bed we would say, well… we don’t sell beds, but the nicest bed we have seen is the Companions bed designed by StudioIlse for De La Espada.
I don’t know how many people we must have recommended this bed to over the years but it seemed to come up a lot. Fortunately for us, we had the opportunity to meet Luis De Oliveira the head of De La Espada and after telling him how much we admired the work they were making especially the work designed by Ilse Crawford and Luca Nichetto we were given the opportunity to represent two of their brands: The Nichetto brand and also the StudioIlse brand. Finally, we had the chance to offer, in our opinion, the best beds available today.
That brings us to our own home, which for us gives us the inspiration for the store and has become our laboratory and testing ground. It acts a little like an extended showroom for customers looking to see what will happen to their furniture after years of use and with children, how natural leather patinas and soaped furniture becomes like driftwood with age. We decided we should order the bed for ourselves, along with the Companions bedside table so we could start enjoying it in our own daily life.
The bed is made from solid white oak with a hand-turned spindle back which acts as a bench for you to prop yourself on while you read in bed. We have put this to test ourselves every night since we like reading before bed, and it makes the act much more comfortable.
A small collection of items we have acquired including a ceramic vessel for storing incense, ancient roman glass and the “box of air” sculpture by Japanese potter and Tea Master Masanobu Ando.
The companions bedside table is soft and warm but also incredibly practical. A generous top surface with a beveled edge for our Cestita table lamp, a cork basket for our iPhone and hudsalve and a lower shelf for books. This keeps all of the surfaces organized and clean looking.
We had this Japanese paper fan framed for the room. The pattern is designed by Claesson Koivisto Rune, and the fan is made by a small workshop in Kyoto for Sfera Gallery. We also sell this in our store.
A large floor vase inspired by African water jars made by Uchida Kouichi, one of our favourite potters.
Howell lurking from behind the bed. Did you notice all of the feet on the StudioIlse craftworks have copper legs? From the smallest stool to the longest table, it is such a beautiful and thoughtful detail.
Real life in progress.
I recently came across the work of Tokyo based photographer Petri Artturi Asikainen while searching for images of the 901 Tea Trolley designed by Alvar Aalto for Artek.
He was commissioned by Artek to show how their products were used around the world and we were especially enamored with this styling by Beams Fennica director Keiko Kitamura. Showing the Tea Trolley as a table for the Tea Ceremony.
It seems like the perfect series to capture the interaction of Scandinavian furniture and Japanese ritualism. We hope you enjoy!
A red lacquered natsume used to hold matcha tea.
A handwoven bamboo basket and cart iron kettle.
This is very inspiring to me, I never thought of the trolley as a table for sitting and having tea at. It’s really made me further appreciate this versatile piece of furniture.
A very beautiful scene.