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!
Click here for the City of Makers website.
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 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.
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.
For the first 5 years of having our store Mjolk, we never offered beds. It seemed like our small showroom wouldn’t be able to display such a large item, and we ourselves didn’t own a bed frame. When people came to us looking for the perfect bed we would say, well… we don’t sell beds, but the nicest bed we have seen is the Companions bed designed by StudioIlse for De La Espada.
I don’t know how many people we must have recommended this bed to over the years but it seemed to come up a lot. Fortunately for us, we had the opportunity to meet Luis De Oliveira the head of De La Espada and after telling him how much we admired the work they were making especially the work designed by Ilse Crawford and Luca Nichetto we were given the opportunity to represent two of their brands: The Nichetto brand and also the StudioIlse brand. Finally, we had the chance to offer, in our opinion, the best beds available today.
That brings us to our own home, which for us gives us the inspiration for the store and has become our laboratory and testing ground. It acts a little like an extended showroom for customers looking to see what will happen to their furniture after years of use and with children, how natural leather patinas and soaped furniture becomes like driftwood with age. We decided we should order the bed for ourselves, along with the Companions bedside table so we could start enjoying it in our own daily life.
The bed is made from solid white oak with a hand-turned spindle back which acts as a bench for you to prop yourself on while you read in bed. We have put this to test ourselves every night since we like reading before bed, and it makes the act much more comfortable.
A small collection of items we have acquired including a ceramic vessel for storing incense, ancient roman glass and the “box of air” sculpture by Japanese potter and Tea Master Masanobu Ando.
The companions bedside table is soft and warm but also incredibly practical. A generous top surface with a beveled edge for our Cestita table lamp, a cork basket for our iPhone and hudsalve and a lower shelf for books. This keeps all of the surfaces organized and clean looking.
We had this Japanese paper fan framed for the room. The pattern is designed by Claesson Koivisto Rune, and the fan is made by a small workshop in Kyoto for Sfera Gallery. We also sell this in our store.
A large floor vase inspired by African water jars made by Uchida Kouichi, one of our favourite potters.
Howell lurking from behind the bed. Did you notice all of the feet on the StudioIlse craftworks have copper legs? From the smallest stool to the longest table, it is such a beautiful and thoughtful detail.
Real life in progress.
I recently came across the work of Tokyo based photographer Petri Artturi Asikainen while searching for images of the 901 Tea Trolley designed by Alvar Aalto for Artek.
He was commissioned by Artek to show how their products were used around the world and we were especially enamored with this styling by Beams Fennica director Keiko Kitamura. Showing the Tea Trolley as a table for the Tea Ceremony.
It seems like the perfect series to capture the interaction of Scandinavian furniture and Japanese ritualism. We hope you enjoy!
A red lacquered natsume used to hold matcha tea.
A handwoven bamboo basket and cart iron kettle.
This is very inspiring to me, I never thought of the trolley as a table for sitting and having tea at. It’s really made me further appreciate this versatile piece of furniture.
A very beautiful scene.
We are really proud to be apart of Luca Nichetto’s vision for his new collection launch with De La Espada at Maison & Objet in Paris. Luca Nichetto wanted to create a living environment to show his new collection and specified many of these lifestyle products to be sent from Mjolk in Toronto, to Paris.
The new 109Q Match cabinet was displayed with the Sucabaruca coffee set, designed by Luca Nichetto for Mjolk
Jicon mugs by Oji Masanori
Brass tool holders by Oji Masanori
The Sarpaneva cast iron pot
as well as a collection of ceramics designed by Luca.
A detail of the hardware on the Match cabinet with Jicon mugs by Oji Masanori peeking out.
You can see the rest of the collection on the De La Espada website, and you can contact us directly if you have any questions about the new work.
We never formally got to introduce all of the individual works in the Garden Works collection by Anderssen & Voll, so I thought I would share each piece along with some words by A&V.
Anderssen & Voll on the Garden Works Project:
The herb pot containers are primarily meant as safe havens for the pots of fresh herbs you buy at the grocery store. In our experience these herbs lead an unsafe existence once they hit the kitchen counter: heavily plucked and with no designated place to stay.
The pots are made from hand thrown terracotta, the side opening promotes watering the soil from the bottom instead of from the top, which displaces soil and exposes sensitive root systems. Watering from the bottom promotes healthy root growth and as a result, a bigger plant.
The opening on the side also allows you to pour away excess water 20 minutes after watering.
Herb Pot Large
Min Watering Can
Indoor gardening is a miniature world. Clean, cultivated and controlled. In this context, we wanted to work with the watering can as a precision tool: a big, softly shaped wooden handle with references to kitchen utensils, a relatively small volume of water leading out in a long and precise spout. The ornamental dialogue between the sensuous shape of the handle and the drawings of the wood grain is something we really appreciate in this product.
The water saver has basically the same function as a PET-water bottle turned upside down. The water is filtered through the soil and seeps slowly into the pot. We adapted this function to a sculptural glass object that mimics the plant and that would be nice enough to park in your flower pots even when it’s not in use.
New Mexico Cactus Pots
Cacti and succulents enjoy being watered directly into well drained soil. Their roots should never be standing in water. Our answer to this was to lift the pot on a short stem above the water collecting disc. The ornament on the disc as well as the chosen colour palette (not pictured) is influenced by our image of sun baked landscapes and the natural habitats of cacti: New Mexico, Arizona or even closer destinations like The Canary Islands.