One thing I am thankful for is that the people I follow on Instagram often post about places in Toronto that I have yet to discover (@fieldguided, @framestory and @blaisemisiek). The Centennial Park Conservatory is just a short drive from us in Etobicoke. It has three sections, tropicals, cacti and seasonal. Oh and it’s free. One thing I’ve noticed about having kids, it IS expensive if you ever want to leave your house and not go to a park. A day out can cost close to $100, between parking, food and admission. So it’s always such a delight when there is something to do that is simple and free. Of course, toddlers don’t go at the same pace as we do, so we were done within 15 minutes, but I can see it being a nice place to visit in the thick of winter, for a quick escape!
On the way home we stopped in a Ma Maison on Dundas West for a treat of croissants and lattes.
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.
A much beloved member of many households, pets often get the short end of the stick when it comes to their personal effects. You’d think that they don’t care about all this stuff, but just as I enjoy coffee from my Teema mug more than the mismatched mugs at my local diner, our cat Isha also prefers certain materials. I used to have a weird random water dish for her and she never seemed to drink any water. I then switched it out for a nice ceramic one and the bowl is empty daily! Isha has spoken! The bonus of course it that we don’t have to look at an eyesore anymore.
Wild cherry pet bowl small
A wild cherry food bowl for a small dog or cat, handmade by Japanese wood artisan Shoji Morinaga for Kyoto based gallery Sfera. The cherry wood is very heavy, so the bowl doesn’t move when your pet is eating.
Oiled wild cherry wood bone chew toy (left)
A hand carved and oiled wild cherry wood bone chew toy (for small dogs) by wood artisan Shoji Morinaga for Kyoto based gallery Sfera.
Oiled wild cherry wood branch dog chew toy by Shoji Morinaga
A hand carved oiled wild cherry wood branch dog chew toy (for small dogs) by wood artisan Shoji Morinaga for Kyoto based gallery Sfera.
Talk porcelain water bowl for pets
“Talk” is a porcelain water bowl for a small dog or cat, handmade and painted by Japanese ceramicist Shin Murata for Kyoto based gallery Sfera. There is an unglazed “talk bubble” to add your pet’s name.
Humans can learn a lot from a dog like me. My name is Don, and I live in a flat with my master, Shigeo. It was empty when my master moved in, but he soon filled it with things that a dog needs. He bought tasty upholstered furniture for me to chew, carpets for me to wipe my paws on and curtains for me to tug and pull down. My master littered the floors with leather-flavoured shoes and sweaty socks, and made piles of chewable objects for me to get my teeth into.
My time as a puppy was a happy one, until the day my master came home from the pet shop with a bag of products. Some of them were functional, such as plastic containers, metal food bowls and rubber mats, but none reflected the tasteful décor and stylish objects we had at home. Rather than use pretentious pet products, I longed for simple objects made from the natural materials that belong to a dog’s world. I had often seen them when we visited the workshops of the artists and craftsmen my master knows. Even if many of them seemed too good for the average human, I knew instinctively that such objects were perfect for a design-conscious dog like me.
Even a loopy master like mine has redeeming features. Although he never gives me enough treats and often brings playtime to an abrupt end, he does understand my sense of style. Years of pulling on the lead have taught my master that I’m always a step ahead, and in matters of taste, he knows I’m top dog. So when I barked excitedly at wooden containers, eagerly licked the insides of ceramic bowls and nuzzled nice fabrics, he understood that I was making a style statement.
Thanks to my canine creative direction, my master enlisted the help of expert craftsmen to bring my vision for designer dog ware to life. The beautiful objects they created add a stylish dimension to the experience of caring for a pet. And it’s all thanks to me, a humble dog, with a bit of help from my obedient master.