October, 2011

Mjölk + HOI BO Pop up shop launch

October 24th, 2011

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Friday night we had the opening for “Hoi bo + Mjolk: A perspective on travel”. We set up the front half of our showroom with a Hoi Bo popup shop to showcase Hoi Bo’s beautiful collection. The night also fell on the same night as the Junction “Show Off” event, which we couldn’t participate in because of our scaffolding in front of the building.

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Waxed cotton tool rolls for wrapping up toiletries and having a place to set your items on instead of placing them on the bathroom counter. The leather cases are all hand formed, and the closures were custom made and designed by Sarra.

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To bring more of Hoi Bo’s studio to our shop, they brought their fern. We secretly want to keep it because it looks so good in the front space.

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Bags lined up on the white risers.

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A custom dress, bag, and necklace by Hoi Bo.

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We served a collection of Quebec cheeses from the Junction Fromagerie with pumkin seeds, cranberries, and grapes.

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Our three Thor Bjorklund knives.

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Custom leather wrapped apothecary jars for pills, or balms.

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The first bag when you enter is the black leather on grey canvas travel bag.

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Although we only took photos in the beginning and it doesn’t look like that many people came, it really got packed after an hour of being open. We had a bunch of apple cider and Perrier and it along with the cheese was demolished by 9:00.

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Part of the exhibition will continue this week, we hope to see you in the shop! Of course, the travel bag will be here longer.

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October 19th, 2011


As you can probably surmise from the above photo, we have some exciting news we would like to share! We are expecting a baby, due in early April!

I’m not going to lie, the first three month were pretty rough. Sheer exhaustion prevented me from doing anything but lay around and read Game of Thrones and nap. As a result, John had to manage the shop, blog and all the every day things by himself. Thankfully he’s been very supportive and I am now feeling a lot more energetic, so we’re hoping to get the blog back on track.

This news is why we dashed off to Japan again, to secure some new artisans and pieces for the shop before we can’t travel to far flung places for quite some time. While John picked up his usual gorgeous trays and cutlery, I had a more singular focus…


A set of handmade baby cutlery from Westside33 in Kyoto, and a natural maple baby rattle we purchased at an exhibition in Tokyo. The wood produces a really soft sound, and it makes a good shaker if you need some percussion.


This hang tag is given out in the Tokyo JR stations to expecting women so that people will know to give up their seat. Sadly, this didn’t work for me on the long train ride to Oji Masanori’s new home. My baby bump (aka food baby) wasn’t prominent enough. But it’s a nice idea.


A silk baby bonnet from Finland. I bought one of these during my first trip to Iceland because I saw it on all of the babies, and I wasn’t sure I would ever find it again. Of course, when we opened the shop we hunted some down, and they are available in store and soon online.


A baby bib by Akiko Ando, a clothing artist from Tajimi city. We have a small collection of her husband’s ceramics (Masanobu Ando) currently in our store.


A soft cotton blanket by Yumiko Sekine for Fog Linen.

We’ll keep you up to date on any big milestones, and maybe some design minded baby stuff we come into contact with, but don’t worry, this isn’t going to become a baby blog! We promise!!!

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Mjölk & HOI BO: A Perspective on Travel

October 12th, 2011

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During our most recent trip, a lot of you noticed the new bag I was wearing. We were both really happy that people noticed, the bag is actually a prototype travel bag that was a collaboration between maker Sarra Tang (HOI BO), and Mjölk. We took it with us for a crash test in Japan, catching different trains every day, spending a new day in a different city, and only using one day trip bag everywhere we went.

The collaboration started after Juli purchased a HOI BO bag for herself, and we posted it on our blog. Sarra saw it and came over to the shop and bought one of our Eve bracelets by Claesson Koivisto Rune. Later they got together over dinner with a mutual friend and after finding a lot of similarities in sensibility a collaboration started to make a lot of sense. After visits to the studio, and bites at the Drake the essence of the bag started to take shape. For all of us the resulting bag had to reflect the shared belief of a perfect balance between form and function.

For Sarra the real challenge was to design a toiletry case and bag that could be used for a man and woman. Not create a genderless bag, but a bag that complimented each gender in a different way.

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All bags and leather work are exclusively made at the HOI BO studio in the Historic Distillery District

Fabric : Waxed canvas, 100% Cotton.  Made in the US since 1847
The fiber is both water and soil repellent

Leather : Naked bark tanned leather.  Tanned in the US since 1881

Hardware : Solid Brass

Also features a black leather cover for cellphone pouch.

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To compliment the bag a pair of two leather toiletry case were made and designed by Sarra. There is no machine work used on the leather case, they are entirely sewn and fabricated by hand using natural tanned leather. The brass details are all designed and cast by HOI BO.

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We felt it was really important to share with you Sarra Tang’s studio space to get a feel of where and how these pieces are all made. The space is located in the Distillery and open to the public, you can also buy her work in the studio.

One of the first things I noticed in the store, besides the beautiful partially finished beeswax bags hanging in the ceiling, was the custom made plywood clothes hangers with a layer of natural leather stamped with “HOI BO”, they even had a sand cast brass hanger. That level of thoughtfulness in her space was something I instantly admired and connected with.

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Partially finished beeswaxed bags hang from the ceiling, interestingly enough they look like beehives hanging from the white painted ceiling.

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Natural blocks of beeswax.

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With a team of three makers, all of HOI BO’s work is hand crafted in-house with deep consideration for both quality and innovation of process. Their satchels are created in production runs of 4-6 pieces allowing them to focus intimately on every detail.

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A collection of leather accessories with the ubiquitous tomato pin cushion.

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A brief shot of the work desk.

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Coming full circle back to the bag, we’re going to be having a launch party on October 21st, where you will be able to purchase the bag. We will only have a limited amount available since the production runs are small in order to keep a high standard of quality.


The bag can be worn three different ways, as a backpack, shoulder bag, and messenger bag. You can also remove all of the straps to create a beautiful brief case. Above you can see the bag in a couple different uses.

We hope to see you at the event!

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Tomiyama Koichi Exhibition

October 5th, 2011


On one of our last days in Japan we stopped at Toukyo Gallery, a famous gallery in Tokyo specifically for exhibiting Japanese handcrafts. The gallery is filled with original George Nakashima furniture, which was purchased by the owner of the gallery at a Nakashima exhibition in the 1980s. His collection is now priceless.


Here at the gallery we got to meet Tomiyama Koichi in person, an artist that we have been working closely with to bring his works to our store. Koichi san has a wonderful collection of studio work which consist of beautiful handmade cutting boards, trays, spoons, and pendant lights. But he also spends a lot of time experimenting with different materials and lacquer finishes and continues to show one of a kind art pieces at galleries all over Japan.


In this photo you can see the studio cutting boards on the top shelf, and then black lacquer dishes, and at the very bottom a completely unique idea. finishing slabs of slate with traditional white lacquer-ware, Koichi-san mentions he doesn’t think this has been experimented with before.


The front of the store has a beautiful long George Nakashima bench, with a collection of ceramics.


George Nakashima dining table.


A set of wood nesting bowls in different lacquerware finishes: black, white, and red.

Each colour is made from a tree sap mixed with a different powder metal.


A hand tooled tray we’re looking at stocking in the store very soon.


One of the few hand turned bowls in the exhibition.


A new material Tomiyama Koichi has been exploring is hammered steel. He made this small metal table for the exhibiton, and on top is his collection of new coffee scoops (which are now on our online store). The wooden trays are used to bring grounded coffee to the filter for easy pouring.


Of course while we were at the exhibition a couple pieces caught our eye, and we couldn’t help picking them up. One of our favorite ideas was this tomato tin, it was re-purposed to be used as a storage container. The bottom and top were replaced with wood and finished with Japanese urishi. The fit is perfect, and it will look beautiful in our kitchen.


A set of some of our collection so far.


The other piece we got was this butter knife. It is actually made from old discarded stainless steel butter knifes. The original long blade is cut down and made more functional, the original handle is hammered down and finished with Japanese urushi.


You can see a little bit of the old flower pattern in the handle.

Please visit our online store, or the physical store to see our collection of Tomiyama Koichi!

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