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.
When we first moved into our renovated apartment above the store all of the walls were bare and it’s been a long process getting around to finding the right home for all of our art work and also acquiring new pieces to fill out our long hallway between the kitchen and the living room. We have always imagined having a wall committed to a mixture of art work in different mediums and sizes and mixing found works with contemporary pieces.
Here is our work in progress.
A midcentury encaustic work we purchased at Rogue Gallery in Leslieville when it was still open. To the right is a hanging broom by Oji Masanori and a bouquet of dry lavender. The Turkey feather is used as a duster for ash during the Japanese Tea Ceremony and there’s a little bit of Renaud Sauvé’s wave tile work peeking in too.
A calculated risk with having small vignettes on small tables, a curious baby who likes to put things into his mouth.
An African Dan Mask, something I really love because it is a mask celebrating beauty. The small teeth are real baby teeth, marking the transition between childhood and womanhood. The bead work underneath is used to cover a Zulu tribe ceramic pot used to ferment beer.
An abstract painting by Japanese painter Junpei Ori inspired by objects designed by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. A copper bowl by Tapio Wirkkala, and a mid-century hand-turned teak bowl from Denmark.
Some inspirational books by Jurgen Lehl.
A Max Papart print found at the Junction Flea Market last summer, smartly framed in white oak.
Kuba panel textile from LATRE, just down the street from us. Along with our Shoji Cabinet to the left, originally designed for our apartment but now available to order. Above that is a beautiful photograph by Joshua Jensen Nagel who uses expired Polaroid film.
I hope everyone had a nice weekend. Monday is our day off so today was pretty relaxed, with brunch at Luna, a visit with Sali Tabacchi, coffee at Full Stop and some grocery shopping. Since the dwell article a few things in our home have changed so we thought we would give you a little update.
The first little thing is our tiny little Peace Lily in an Arabia Finland planter, along with the Luca Nichetto Timeline bowl and copper Zoo table by Claesson Koivisto Rune. We also sell the TMM floor lamp by Spanish designer Miguel Mila, we always have his designs on display at Mjölk.
Available at Mjölk but not on the webstore yet: Luca Nichetto Timeline bowl and TMM floor lamp in white oak, beech, walnut or wenge. Please enquire here.
Underneath this little side table is our new (old) mid-century Swedish carpet by Judith Johansson. She is one of our favourite rug designers, you might recognize her work from the red and blue carpet we have at our cottage.
When we first moved in we didn’t have any rugs on the floor at all, and in the beginning it was really nice and minimalistic. However, as we grew into our home we starting craving the warmth you get from incorporating textiles. They are also so nice underfoot and remarkably cut down on sound.
The full shot of the living room rug.
The untreated vegetable tanned leather on our 2213 sofa is about 2 years old, and wearing beautifully. Eventually it will be a cognac brown.
Elodie rolling around on the carpet.
You might be wondering where our old Berber rug moved to. We found a great place for it in our bay window underneath the Conoid bench. The two carpets play off each other really well. We’ve always loved textiles but incorporating different styles in the same room can be challenging. That’s why we really took our time waiting for the perfect rug to tie everything together.
All of the subdued fall colours are really nice. Funny enough, when we bought the rug via an online auction, the colours in the photograph were more blue, pink and orange, so we were really disappointed when this colourway showed up. Thankfully because of all the white oak and natural leather it works and it ended up being a win!
A photo of Elodie to end with.
I hope everyone is having a nice week! It’s been a busy month here, and we found a little bit of time to show you a few new things around the homestead that have been inspiring us lately. If you follow our instagram you have probably already seen photos of our mid century Danish piano. We finally got it all tuned up and it sounds pretty good for such a tiny pianette.
In the festive spirit we have our little Aarikka elves sitting on the ledge.
Our Rosemary bush and Bay leaf tree. The bay leaves come in handy for making soups this winter!
Studio Junction lent us their Danish coffee table to be used as Elodie’s play table. Little friends Miffy and Totoro sitting on Elodie’s African chair, a gift from Tomii Takashi (complete with red crayon).
Advent Calendar bought on our yearly pilgrimage to The Finnish Place. Marimekko with little pockets. Elodie loves discovering the treasures, though it seems that the pleasure in finding out surpasses the enjoyment of the object. Usually she just says More! More!
An antique Zulu beer fermenting pot in clay, such a nice shape and pattern.
A mid century Cleo Hartwig sculpture of a dove, next to a brass bowl by Luca Nichetto for Skultuna.
Left, we bought the most interesting looking tree on the lot (Georgian Bay Xmas Trees outside No Frills on Pacific – convenience!). All of the trees are full and perfect looking but they didn’t feel right. Then we saw this scraggly thing and well, home it came. Tree skirt by Marimekko, from The Finnish Place.
On the right is Elodie’s decorating.
Left, a Royal Copenhagen vase and to the right the only work of a Japanese National treasure that we will ever own, a unique tea bowl by Tatsuzo Shimaoka. The lines in the bowl are actually from ropes that were embedded into the clay, the bowl has a gold repair to the rim.
A vintage wood-mold Savoy vase by Alvar Aalto, along with a collection of 3 Tutsi baskets from Africa. Some of the tightest weaving I have ever seen, and such an incredible form and pattern.
Isha update: happy cat.
Well, winter looming outside our doors and we’re all spending a lot more time around the house and finally getting around to framing art and finding places to hang them. We have a couple of interesting antique Japanese *correction – Chinese scrolls (I bought these from a shop in Japan)* that we thought we should share with you. One is finding its home in a narrow wall in our bathroom to the right of the sink.
It is the popular motif of the plum blossom, but this one is the lucky double plum blossom *peach blossom?* ensuring a good spring. It’s a nice reminder during winter, the promise of the spring to come. Also, the artist used their finger print to make all of the little dots – I think that little bit of charm was what encouraged me to buy it.
A closeup detail of the finger prints used for the blossoms.
The other is just a fun piece that I bought for Elodie. When I saw the cats, bamboo and flowers I thought it would look great in her future bedroom. Plus one of the cats looks just like Isha! Elodie really likes this piece, she likes counting the cats.