Before there was Mjolk, there was a groundbreaking modernist store on Bloor Street West Front Street East called Karelia. It was a store that introduced modern Finnish design to Toronto. You could find high-end pieces by Yrjö Kukkapuro and Eero Aarnio, designers that still haven’t returned back to the Toronto modern retail scene.
The store existed before our time, but we have a lot of customers and former employees of Karelia that come in our store and reminisce about its time as a store.
Let me back track a little — Every Monday on our day off we visit a neighbourhood in the city. Today we trekked over to Leslieville, on Queen St. East. We visited Jake at one of the best stores in the city, Machine Age Modern. After talking obsessively about Tapio Wirkkala he took out an old poster he had from Karelia. He mentioned he had visited Janis Kravis, the owner of Karelia who is still working as an architect in Toronto.
He told me the owner has a whole wall of modernist glass, one of which was signed “Thanks for having me over for dinner – Alvar Aalto” A one of a kind piece created by Aalto to mark the occasion.
Imagine getting Finel coffee percolators for $15.95?
Jake gave us an early wedding gift, which are little mementos from the old Karelia store.
Two stainless steel hearts.
Which come together to form a sculpture. I’m not sure who the designer is but Jake thinks it’s from Sweden, I still need to do some research…