Cottage Renovations 2015

May 27th, 2015


Yes, you didn’t read that title wrong. We are back picking up where we left off 6 years ago, when we first started renovating our clapboard cottage on Georgian Bay.
So much has happened in that time, the short of it being:

We opened Mjölk
Got Married
Had 2 kids

These are significant milestones and as you get older and your family begins to grow, your needs tend to change. When we started our first renovation we did all of the work ourselves, and of course we were limited by our abilities and had to use some ingenuity to get the job done. Hence the crafty plywood walls (I didn’t know how to drywall) and the relentless use of white paint on the floors, walls, doors and ceilings.

We’ve reached a point that some of our initial handy work is starting to get a little shabby looking, and this summer we decided to do some aesthetic and functional renovations.

Above: A photo of some work in progress: new sconces for the mantel, repurposed from two of the bedrooms.


One of the biggest changes we have made is we cladded the entire interior of the cottage with tongue and groove pine painted white. We also painted the blue doors out white.

It now looks incredibly Swedish and has given the space a whole new energy!


The sexiest change is definitely the kitchen, which has been a source of frustration for us during the past few summers. Our small work kitchen was perfect when it was just the two of us but now with two kids we are cooking in portions to feed four each meal, and when we have guests over this number can easily reach over 10 people. Our sweet deal of a find under counter fridge died THREE years ago (we’ve been running back and forth to the guest cottage) and no one would service it (too good to be true I guess). As a result, we had to get a regular sized fridge which completely compromises our counter space.

We took a look at the configuration of the cottage and ultimately decided to move the entire kitchen(!!!), and in the process come up with an entire new design.

A couple of teaser additions are in the photo above: I am not going to lie, I have always wanted a SMEG fridge. I can’t believe they are still made in Italy, and the design is just so endearing. The jewelry so to speak is the unlacquered brass faucet resting on top which will be wall-mounted. We got this faucet from Addision’s here in Toronto, which is a fascinating architectural and antique plumbing store. I think it is made from two different fixtures put together by the owner so we could achieve a super long faucet.

You may also be wondering what will replace the old kitchen – we have zero storage so we thought some large wardrobes would be perfect, making the space more of an entryway instead of a bottleneck.

We’re looking forward to sharing the results with you as we get the work done!

In the meantime, if you want to see some of this stuff live as it happens please follow our Instagrams:




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Junpei Ori Paintings

May 18th, 2015


We were introduced to Japanese painter Junpei Ori through the OEN blog, and fell in love with the compositions and charm of his work.

Many of the painting depict everyday life with a nod to Scandinavian design and lifestyle. We ended up buying a couple of paintings after seeing the OEN blog post, and after seeing a recent batch of new works decided to round out the collection with three.

The one above is a newer work with figs, these shapes are cut out and painted and placed back on the wooden canvas to give it more depth.


These shapes remind us of Alvar Aalto’s Savoy vase.


This one is inspired by the Tea Trolley by Alvar Aalto which is one of our favorite pieces of furniture.
Also in this photo: The Spoke-back sofa by Borge Mogensen for Fredericia, a pillow from Marimekko, a Zebra pillow by Alvar Aalto for Artek, a blanket by Inga Sempe for RorosTweed and a Moroccan Berber rug. All items available from Mjolk.

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Alissa Coe Exhibition

May 11th, 2015


Last week we launched Alissa Coe’s solo exhibition at Mjölk. Above you can see her stunning installation hanging above the dining table, which is showcasing an exploration in tableware. We had a wonderful turnout during the opening party, and we thank you all for attending!

Below you will find more photos of the exhibition, but if you live in Toronto, we encourage you to come by and check it out in person. The pieces are so fine and delicate, something that is hard to appreciate in photographs. We hope to get a selection of pieces in the webshop as well.

Read more about the exhibition here.

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Vincent Joseph Monastero and Alissa Coe – they collaborated on the Elements carafe and cups

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Alissa Coe at Mjölk

May 4th, 2015


We’re very excited for porcelain artist Alissa Coe’s solo exhibition, happening here at Mjölk in just two days!

We’ve received some finished samples to photograph and the work is incredible! Please come out to our opening reception this Wednesday, May 6th from 7:00pm – 10:00pm.


A collection of work in porcelain inspired by the power and primordial nature of geometric form.

With this body of work I have attempted to create a primal feeling, as if each piece could have existed from the beginning of time, encapsulating all the strength and fragility of nature in the quality of the forms and materials.

- Alissa Coe

If you haven’t already had a chance to watch any of the City of Makers episodes, we would recommend watching Alissa’s first. This interview happened during the beginning stages of her work for this exhibition, and you can get a glimpse into her inspirations and hints at what might be in the exhibition.

The image above is a sampling of the vessels and tableware that was made specifically for the show in primary shapes, made from thin white nearly translucent porcelain. She will also be presenting a 6′ long ceiling sculpture and a 6′ tall pyramid sculpture.


Large hexagonal flower vessels.


Elements water carafe and tumblers, a collaboration between Alissa Coe and Vincent Joseph Montastero.



Hand thrown cone vase.


A grouping of three hand thrown vases.


Black glazed hand thrown vessels with distorted lip.


Some photos of Alissa’s studio during the process of creating works for the exhibition.


The rough porcelain components of the pyramid sculpture.


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Various plaster moulds and nearly finished pieces.




Finished vessels.

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City of Makers

April 29th, 2015

Last summer I (John) hosted a documentary series called City of Makers. Produced by Andrea Orazi for Narrative Pictures and directed by Scott Abraham, the series examines the people who shape a city’s creative identity.

Ive been meaning to share this on the blog once the episodes became available, so very sorry for my delay. Having a store that specializes in goods from Scandinavia and Japan we aren’t well-known for carrying Canadian made things, but you might be surprised how many things we have that are made right here in Toronto. When Scott and Andrea approached us to be involved in their documentary series, I thought this would be a great opportunity to introduce our friends whose work we really love and respect and who we feel are on an international level of quality but just so happen to live here in Toronto.

I hope you enjoy this first series!

Learn more about the project from the City of Makers Director Scott Abraham.

Click here for the City of Makers website.

Alissa Coe
Alissa is a ceramicist who mainly produces sculptural commissions, including work for the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto. Alissa also produces the Sucabaruca coffee set for Design store and gallery Mjolk.

Brian Richer
Brian is an artist who works in stone, his work is influenced by his training as an architectural stone carver. He is also a designer for his company Castor.

Brian Vu – Latre Art and Style
Brian runs his own store in the Junction neighbourhood of Toronto.  Brian uses the ancient dye indigo to colour his clothing, his designs are influenced by his love of military clothing.

Sarra Tang – Hoi Bo
Sarra is a designer who makes bags, clothing and accessories for her company Hoi Bo.  Sarra is known for bags made from her unique hand processed dry wax material.

Lubo Brezina – Lubo Design
Lubo is a furniture designer who works in wood. Lubo’s recognizable style combines substantial timber with Japanese joinery techniques.


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Abandoned Space

April 6th, 2015


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.

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