Our recent trip to Japan found us in the most Southern part of Japan’s main island, spending our first days in Kumamoto city. Japan always has us returning because every region seems to have their unique cultural specialties, so even though there is a familiarity to some cities in Japan, it really does feel like a completely new experience when you go to a new region
Kumamoto Castle just so happened to be outside the doorsteps of our hotel. It has a special place in popular culture because of the epic Samurai movie Ran, directed by Akira Kurosawa in which soldiers attack the castle. It was the most expensive film ever to be made in Japan in that period.
The stone walls are very beautiful, and incredibly difficult to scale I’m sure.
The exterior is really beautiful, but it isn’t an old castle. Actually it was rebuilt in 1960, and the interior is now a museum.
The laying of Japan: parking lot, stone tower for spirits, bamboo, and office building.
Kumamon bear, the character for Kumamoto City.
We also visited the former home of author Lafcadio Koizumi who is famous for translating traditional Japanese folklore and ghost stories for a Western audience.
His home and garden were very beautiful.
American icon-ism in Japan.
We would be spending most of our visit with our friend Ai Hosokawa, who took us to an incredible coffee shop called Antiques-Coffee.
The owner is a famous Ikebana artist (pictured), curator of antiques, bee keeper and makes some incredible coffee which is served in lacquer-ware cups by famous wood artisan Ryuji Mitani.
Most of the antiques come from Japan, Korea and China. There are also beautiful floral arrangements to be found throughout the cafe.
These two Mei-Ping vases really caught my eye. The one on the left is ceramic and the other to our surprise is made from copper coated with lacquer-ware. We ended up taking that one home with us.
The antique glass vase also caught my eye, but I could only chose one piece for myself so early on in the trip.
For those of you that follow us on Instagram, you probably know we just got back from a short but sweet trip to Japan.
This was our first trip outside of the country in almost 2 years, so as you might expect we had our share of business meetings and visits with suppliers as well as artisans to interview for the book and also to secure some future exhibitions. Having said that, there were some really beautiful moments visiting our friends, meeting new ones, sharing meals and the reinvigorating inspiration that comes from traveling.
On our last day in Tokyo just before our flight left in the late afternoon we went with our friends Ian and Kimberly to one of their favorite Sunday antique markets. This was where all of the restraint we showed not buying things during the first portion of our trip had worn off and we had some yen left over in our pockets ready to be spent before we got on our flight.
It’s kind of embarrassing to say, but in all of our visits to Japan we never made a point to visit an open air antique market. We have been to a lot of antique shops, but we never really did enough research to find out where and when the markets were on. Luckily our friends formerly from Toronto, now living in Tokyo, had been to many of the markets around the city and took us to this one.
Needless to say, we walked away with some very nice work.
Although not specifically from this antique market, we found the Mei Ping vase above at Antique-Coffee located in Kumamoto.
I originally thought the vase was ceramic, but after picking it up I was shocked to find it weighed almost nothing. The vase is made from copper, and then finished with black urushi. It is from Korea and around 200 years old, the urushi has been slowly peeling away and underneath the exposed copper has turned a blue-green colour. The vase was originally used to fill with sake to be offered to the gods.
From here on these are all the antique market finds. This one I especially love because I knew absolutely nothing about it, even after I bought it I came back to ask some more information. It’s an old Korean copper or brass bowl, around 1000 years old. It seems we are naturally attracted to Korean work, some of the best metal and pottery we saw on our trip was from Korea. Now these pieces are even more significant since the government has banned Korean antiques from leaving Korea. If you go to a shop or market there and legitimately buy something, they will apparently confiscate it from you at the airport.
Copper has been a reoccurring material obsession for us.
From the same dealer where we bought the Korean bowl we also saw this small shrine, which is actually one used for traveling.
It is from the 1600s, and coated with a rich black Japanese lacquer.
What is really spectacular is when the doors are opened, beautiful gold leaf lined doors and back panel with three intricately carved figures are revealed. There has been some speculation about who these figures are, so if anyone knows anything about them please write us.
Another object we had no idea about, is this pair of wooden sticks on a rope. I just really liked the form, weight and shape especially where the rope was tied. Bringing them back home we found out these are knockers used during the Kabuki theater to get people to sit down and get ready for the show.
This is maybe more of a touristy thing, but I wanted to find a nice gong to hang on our wall. The problem was finding a really nice old copper one, not a new one made of brass or one made from iron. It also had to be simple. There were a couple of gongs at the market but this one was the nicest, and the sound is really nice.
These wooden molds to make Tea Ceremony sweets are beautiful and sculptural.
What made this mold special to us is its shape. There were a lot of other molds we saw, but none of them had a handle.
We loved how the carvings just peak out through the openings.
Red snapper is a special fish used to symbolize celebrations, crane and turtle are for long life and wisdom.
Another beautiful object that caught Juli’s eye was this antique watering can in copper. Its smaller scale makes it ideal for watering bonsai and other small plants.
The form is incredible.
Finally, always one to attempt to find a piece of artwork during our travels Juli found this lovely print of a dancer. In a way it has a Japanese quality, but is in fact, to our surprise made by a French print maker in the 1960s. It’s being framed now, so we’ll share another photo once it’s up on our wall.
Autumn is a time to get out and breathe in the earthy air. Lately a lot of people on my instagram/facebook feeds have been visiting the waterfalls of Hamilton, a natural wonder that I was completely unaware of (I guess Niagara Falls gets all the love in these parts, or so I assumed). Anyway, it’s totally a thing. I love it when places brand themselves “The Waterfall Capital of The World” too. I somehow doubt it but that’s ok! There is plenty to explore (waterfalls, Bruce Trail, Niagara escarpment)!
I inquired as to what falls were toddler friendly. This website gives difficulty ratings. We went to Tew’s Falls (#15 on their list, so those other falls must be quite something) and the nearby Webster’s Falls (the top photo), which was about a 15 minute walk down a trail that was doable but nicely challenging for a toddler and mama carrying a baby.
We were impressed. John thought I was crazy planning this outing but had to admit it was quite something. Elodie loved it but immediately wanted more, as one does when they are two and a half.
Some nice views along the trail.
I wonder how the fall colours are now, we went a couple of weeks ago. Would be spectacular.
On the walk back to our car Elodie became exhausted (YES! FINALLY!) and had to be carried. We thought we’d have to skip lunch and head home but we decided to head to nearby Dundas (town of) to maybe grab some takeaway from Detour cafe. The main street in this small town is pretty crazy busy, which struck me as weird but it must be a thoroughfare. We had trouble finding parking and then scored a spot right out front, and Elodie hit that second wind that then prevents her from napping, so we had a lovely cozy lunch, where no food was flung, nor tears cried. WIN! Here she is feigning sleep.
All in all, a day trip I’d like to make again!
We just returned from a trip to Oslo and Stockholm for design week. It was a super busy time, meeting up with friends and seeing what was going on. I didn’t really take many photos of the cities themselves because we’ve been so many times I find it hard to capture (that and the nonstop overhead clouds and dreary weather made for not the best lighting scenario).
Although most of our shopping seemed to revolve around Elodie, we did manage a few fun purchases. Above is a Höganäs Keramik pot. We saw it at the Red Cross shop that’s located directly across the street from the Claesson Koivisto Rune office. We didn’t buy right away but then ran over minutes before closing on our last evening in town. It’s currently freshening up our front entryway, which still has a way to go in resolving the space aesthetically and practically.
Another last minute find at the Red Cross. I had been looking for some mid century Scandinavian art and the colours and simplicity in this piece stood out.
One of Elodie’s favourite peek spots. Also, she chooses her own socks.
We saw this book at designer Eva Schildt’s home. It’s a sort of I spy in Stockholm book, perfect for us non-Swedish speakers. I was going to get her a book to learn Swedish but we figured it wouldn’t be a good idea since we are clueless how to pronounce anything!
Elodie loves helping daddy water the plants, so we got her a Moomin watering can. Of course she tends to water the floor but I am sure it will improve in time. Skill building! Also, I can’t believe she chose matching socks!
Tall toddler = belly shirts!
They bloomed already! I’m liking where we moved this painting. The three items together make a nice grouping.
Prototype of the Float candlestick by Anderssen & Voll (their website never seems to be working lately so this links to Muuto) for Muuto. It doesn’t seem they went with this colour for production, lucky us!
We managed to pop by Blås & Knåda, a ceramics and glass store in Södermalm where we picked up four pieces by Hisako Mizuno Jonsson. Funny enough, our friend Alissa Coe told us about these pieces a few days prior and we ended up buying them!
So we ended up being pack mules on the way home, carrying a lot of breakables. Thankfully everything arrived home safely. We were reluctant to put anything in our luggage because on the way there the airline lost our suitcase with ALL the Sucabaruca prototypes!!! And the bag didn’t make it back to us for over 3 days, with no updates. But it all worked out as you can see in the previous post.
Our main reason for visiting Winnipeg was to see our friends Nils Vik and Thom Fougere (and to make a new friend of Mike from Scandinavian Modern). We met Nils and Thom years ago at IDS (ahhh so young), when they had their prototype on display. Since then Nils opened a very successful cafe, Parlour Coffee, in the Exchange neighbourhood (more on Thom later).
They offer pour over, which is still a rarity.
A lot of interesting events happening in Winnipeg these days!
The Parlour space is definitely more of a grab and go scenario, however there are some bar stools if you’re lucky to nab one.
A simple menu. I imagine their treats sell out pretty early, as there seems to always be a lot of traffic.
I spy Mjölk Volume II and a much coveted Volume I, probably the only one left worldwide!!!
Tyndall stone facade and some benches to enjoy before the -40 temperatures start.
As if we hadn’t had enough coffee we headed over to MAKE Coffee + Stuff. We were invited to be on the Jury for an international lighting competition they were holding, called 011_SHADE.
Some of the other jury members.
Although this light wasn’t photographed the best in the submission package, it turned out to be a surprise hit for us.
This one we found to be a unique take on the bubble light.
This design is so intriguing, with the weight of the concrete and lightness of the wire.
You know how we love that charred wood look.
We attempted a fancier meal on our last night at highly recommended Segovia. We don’t generally do dinner with Elodie as her bath time is at 6pm sharp and she’s in bed by 6:30-7. Add a time change and well, we were heading towards disaster city. We were THOSE people. The ones with a screaming toddler in a fancy restaurant. But I mean come on, who really goes out for an intimate dinner at 5PM??? Sheesh. We should have had that room to ourselves yet the tables filled up around us. Anyway, Elodie refused to sit with us or eat anything. I had bought her a Thomas the Tank Engine toy so she happily played with it on the floor…well happily until she tried to choo choo it to where all the servers bustle about. Rookie parent I am it took me forever to remember to shove my iphone at her, which let us shovel food into our mouths for about 7 minutes in relative peace. Check please!
I will say that although we crammed the food in (is there any other way with young kids anyway?), the food was incredible. Oh to be savored…maybe next time!
The main event of our trip was the Thom Fougere + Børge Mogensen exhibition.
It was so amazing to see Thom’s work finally available for purchase, taking production into his own hands and working with local suppliers it is very inspiring. It was also a pleasure to meet and have dinner with Mike from Scandinavian.Modern, a kindred spirit indeed. He really knows his stuff and has impeccable taste. He is always pushing designers that tend to be a little less mainstream here in North America, and of course the Danish modern enthusiasts who are in the know have a ton of respect for his offerings.
Here is the images we could muster on a dark and cozy Winnipeg evening:
The beautiful Tyndall stone table, an iconic stone used throughout the buildings in the prairies.
Charge catch for holding your phone while it is being charged.
Bench coat rack system, and wood and metal side table.
The Parlour portable coffee bar.
Believe it or not, this used to be just like our old apartment. We also have a vintage 2213 sofa in black leather with mahogany legs, as well as Thom’s tyndall table. I think it is a perfect combination.
The newest work on exhibit is Thom’s magazine rack which is to the left of the Mogensen sofa.
The brass detail of a rare armchair Børge Mogensen designed for Karl Andersson & Söner.
Børge Mogensen canvas and oak Easy chair for Fredericia.
An incredible module sofa with wall mounted headrests. If we had a place for it in our life, I would love this for our home.
We had a great time in Winnipeg, and we’re looking forward to our next visit!
The other week we visited Winnipeg. Why Winnipeg you ask? Well, firstly I (Juli) grew up visiting my grandmother and family several times a year, even attending a French day camp at St. Boniface for a month in the summer. More recently though, we have made quite a few friends through the shop that are from Winnipeg. Some events were happening all at the same time so we figured it was a good time to visit.
It was Elodie’s first airplane ride and she was surprisingly amazing for a very busy 18 month old. Although I think a 2 hour flight is her maximum, she stayed in our lap and was quiet the whole flight (not as good the way back, but what can you do!). We rented a car and made our first stop The Forks for some lunch. We were going to go to the children’s museum but Mike from Scandinavian Modern told us about this amazing park right next door.The Variety Heritage Adventure Playground had plenty to do to burn off some of that toddler energy.
After a long play session Elodie passed out in the car and we drove around town.
We then visited Little Sister Coffee Maker, a new cafe in Osborne Village, co-owned by our friend Nils Vik of Parlour Coffee and his sister-in-law Vanessa. I am so embarrassed that I didn’t get any proper photos. Travelling with toddler made it hard to get in the zone, and we thought we would have time to visit again (we didn’t), so I only got two shots!
Regardless, the atmosphere is really lovely, and the details are all there, right down to the colour scheme and fresh flowers. Honestly, this is the type of cafe we would go to daily if given the opportunity. They actually use legit Iittala mugs and serve incredible croissants and baked goods. I had a mocha and it was the best I have ever had. John had a pour over, which not many places take the time to do. In order to get Elodie to sit still for a few minute we placated her with her very own cookie. She responded with a fairly adept impersonation of Cookie Monster (nom nom nom) and refused to share even one bite of her cookie with us. She is her mother’s daughter.
A cute post box turned trash bin.
We were pretty tired after our busy day so we headed back to our fancy digs at The Fairmont to grab some room service and put Elodie to bed. We ended up with a double room suite (it was the only room available, I swear) and it was worth every penny. When your kid goes to bed around 7pm the last thing you want to do is sit in the dark for the rest of the evening. Also the room service was surprisingly good for a change.
If you are familiar with Winnipeg then you will know that Stella’s is an institution at this point. I used to go with my grandma to the location in Osborne Village and it’s as good now as it ever was. Best breakfast in town – actually I wish there was one in Toronto!
I know this looks pretty average but they make their own jam and bread which are two huge factors in the best breakfast category. We ate here both mornings.
The Exchange area
Winnipeg City Hall
Centennial Concert Hall
Manitoba Museum and Planetarium
The first diorama in the museum is the bison hunt, a classic. I always insisted on visiting the museum, every single time, dead of winter even (three buses).
A newer diorama of a Ukrainian homestead. Looks like a William Kurelek painting!
Tyndall stone, a limestone rich in decorative fossils, is widely used in commercial applications in Winnipeg. Our friend Thom made a gorgeous coffee table out of this material.
The iconic The Golden Boy, perched on top of the legislature building.
Another post to follow!