It’s a rainy day here in Toronto, and I’m spending a quiet Sunday at the store reflecting on the past year and all of the amazing changes that have happened. There is nothing special about today, but it has a sort of significance for us because by this time next month we will have moved back into our home above the store.
Our mornings have consisted of talking about how nice it will be when we are back above the store, and our vision always includes enjoying coffee in various spots around the home. I go up almost every day to check on the progress, and I always find myself saying things like “Oh yes, the light is very nice here. This is the perfect place to have a cup of coffee.” In fact, there are 20 nice places to have coffee I think.
Now I feel a bit self conscious saying this next bit, but I think that if I acknowledge the stereotype all will be forgiven. Bloggers are often in the habit of apologizing about neglecting their blog, and we are guilty of this as well. We tell ourselves, once we are around nice surroundings we will be able to take more photos and talk with you more. I insist this is the truth, we will be back to our blogging ways soon enough.
Now I get a lot of people asking why we haven’t posted more photographs of the progress of our home, and I don’t really have a good answer. We’re always up for sharing most things, but this home is so intimate for us. I think over a time a mosaic of our home will be built with each post in the coming months. To just take a bunch of snaps of each room feels inappropriate. This is a space that needs time to settle in and evolve. Plus, if we show the whole house, how will we sell volume five of Mjolk?
Anyway, I’ve been holding on to these photos of Studio Junction’s new workshop. A space that we have greatly benefited from, as most of our mill work has churned out from here. New machines were buzzing away as I stopped by to visit a forest’s worth of white oak slated to be milled into doors, windows, and cabinets.
The work space is in a large brick building with a cantilevered mezzanine.
The work desk.
A prized Japanese hand saw.
A micro building model made of laminated wood.
The industrial glass windows are operable from this sliding track mechanism.
Piles and piles of white oak.
A huge slab of wenge being saved for something special – although we don’t know what that special something is yet!
The individual components for our doors.
The original light feature that was connected to the curve wall in our shop. The curve wall was originally part of an installation at the Gladtstone Hotel called “Come up to my room”. It was perfect timing because we commissioned our store shortly after and used the curved wall as a permanent feature at our store.
Seeing this, I wish we included the ceiling element as well!
The model of the infamous Courtyard House.
Only four more weeks to go. We can’t wait.
Pia Wallen Cross Blankets are hard to come by, but we’re happy to report we received a decent amount of stock recently. As well, you’ll note the grey is discontinued and has been replaced by wild cotton, which is a pale blush colour. LOVE.
Pia sent Elodie a little gift – her baby slippers in the new wild cotton (blush) and polka dot style. Serious baby approves? Parents approve! Thank you Pia!
We’re pleased to share our third and final installment of our trip to the Nakashima studio in New Hope. Today we’re taking a look into George Nakashima’s gallery, like previously noted we’re saving some photos for the book so this sneak peak will have to tide you over until next year!
There were beautiful illustrations of George Nakashimas buildings earlier in his career used for his portfolio and competitions. Note the signature at the bottom “I am a citizen of the U.S.” With a Japanese last name there was a lot of discrimination even though the architect was born in America and achieved a Masters in Architecture.
A sound sculpture by Harry Bertoia.
Floating stair case embedded into the stone wall.
Elodie on the Tatami mat.
One of my favorite pieces – The Conoid bench complete with antique indigo cushions.
Many aspects of the Nakashima compound were man made by George Nakashima, the plot of land was originally plowed farm land so elevations in the land, stone work, and most of the trees were planted by Nakashima himself. Although you would not expect that any of it was man made as it looks so natural in its setting.
The bridge separating Pennsyvania from New Jersey. We were staying at a hotel on the Jersey side in Lambertville.
The local diner – Sneddon’s
Copper lamps and sad clowns.
The area is unbelievably picturesque and lush.
We asked a local jogger where the best place to get lunch in the city was and they told us about a cute spot called “City Market”.
New Hope Apple juice – so delicious.
The deli acts as a hub for many of the locals. Lots of fresh food and good coffee on hand. I ended up getting a super American meal – ribs and corn bread!
A collection of iconic American condiments all on one shelf.
A beautiful cedar paneled facade with tall grasses. So tastefully done.
I didn’t even make this connection, but RADO auction house was actually in Lamberville. Lot’s of amazing things by Nakashima, Bertoia, and other big names on hand. We were lucky enough that they had a preview that day, it’s nice to see all of the work in person but it’s also overwhelming seeing that many beautiful things in one place.
An apple is more her speed, she’s just starting to eat solids.
Om nom nom.
Onto Part 2 of our 3 part series on the Nakashima Studio. Today we visit the Reception house, the refinishing shop, and the lumber storage building.
The Reception house.
A vintage indigo dyed tapestry separates the showroom from the office area.
There’s a real sense of working in nature throughout the workshops.
The finishing building where coats of tung oil are hand applied to each piece.
Nakashima wall hanger.
The beautiful guest house, which we will be featuring in the 3rd volume of Mjolk. The ottomans have the original antique indigo cushions used for the Rockefeller’s Japanese home.
The traditional tea room complete with a cantilever to the garden to closer connect with nature.
The bathroom was tiled by Mira and her brother Kevin.
Hinoki and copper bath buckets.
The lumber storage building.
This is one of the most valuable collections of wood in the world, many lengths of old growth trees in the Nakashima collection do not even exist anymore.
The famous bow-tie inlay.
A specifically beautiful piece of 7′ American walnut destined to become a Conoid bench, you can see the curved line which will eventually be where the slated back will be constructed.
The other week we made a pilgrimage to George Nakashima’s studio in New Hope Pennsylvania. This is a trip I’ve been wanting to make ever since seeing George Nakashima’s work in person at Gallery Toukyo when we were in Japan last summer. (and subsequently seeing more in New York later in the year).
It sounds strange that the first piece I saw by this American born Japanese architect/craftsman was in Japan, but maybe the setting was the perfect place to experience Nakashima’s work. A gallery specializing in hand crafted / Mingei work being meticulously displayed on original Nakashima pieces from an exhibition in the 1980s. The owner had purchased the entire collection, a large investment at the time that has turned into a priceless collection.
I remember specifically the long 7′ bench sitting in the window with Windsor style spoke-back being held together by a Torri like arch, running along only around 5′ of the length thus leaving a substantial 2′ cantilever for displaying pottery. I think it’s been embedded in my mind in the same way Nakashima’s signature is embedded in the display pieces at Gallery Toukyo.
It’s not a road trip until you’re stopped by the State Police for speeding! Oops! But really, our car only has Km on the speedometer.
Onto the epic road trip… We wanted to visit the Nakashima workshop before the arrival of Elodie, but just couldn’t find the time. This would be our first road trip with the baby, and also for us as a couple. I don’t know how we managed to not ever take a road trip, but we discovered we haven’t traveled much in our own country or through the US, and if we did travel it was by plane or train.
It took around 12 hours to drive to New Hope from Toronto after you include a stop for lunch and stops for changing diapers and the inevitable search for a Starbucks pick me up. We were originally considering making the trip all in one day, but I’m so happy that we decided to stay over the first night so we were refreshed for our studio visit the next day.
Of course we took a staggering amount of photographs, we’re saving the best for the 3rd volume of Mjölk, so in the meantime I hope you enjoy the first part of this blog post: a tour of the Conoid studio.
A cast iron knocker from Japan, on a wide plank walnut door.
Antique Japanese indigo mats on a Nakashima R bench.
The top of a Minguren end table.
“Please remove shoes”
Conoid rocking chair, and a slatted cabinet.
The Conoid showroom.
There are beautiful ceramic and iron pieces neatly displayed on cabinets and coffee tables around the studio.
A Japanese fish hanging.
A collection of Burls for Lamp bases.
The iconic butterfly joint.
Sitting outside of the studio was this amazing sculpture by Harry Bertoia, who was a good friend of George Nakashima.
The work shop flooded with natural light on looking the lush property.
The concrete pillars holding up the shell ceiling of the Conoid Studio.
I hope you enjoyed part 1! We have plenty more photos to share with you.
It’s a rainy day in Toronto so I thought I’d cheer you up with an Elodie update. I can’t believe these photos are from a month ago but whatever…she’s now almost 6 months old! It’s been so wonderful, yet challenging with the business. We really are just a mom and pop shop so we thank you all for your patience with us as we learn to balance this new and very demanding addition to our life!
These two are friends, really! Except that Isha doesn’t understand that she should stay very clear of Elodie’s very active feet.
Elodie is generally a pretty serious, taking it all in baby but when she smiles it’s pretty awesome. Elodie loves kicking in her bouncy chair, being read to (favourite book seems to be Goodnight Moon), staring at her hands in a very intense and fascinated manner, putting her foot in her mouth, chatting when the mood strikes her, licking apples, pretending to fly, staring at leaves dancing in the wind, sound effects, peek-a-boo (duh).
We also want to thank you for your lovely comments lately, especially regarding the guest cottage reno and the post about Elodie’s special gift! It’s always so nice to hear from you and we wish we could have a better system to approve the comments quicker and also answer them clearly so that you are aware that we are responding to your questions (we think you have to check back and that would be annoying as we don’t respond right away). If anyone knows of any plugins for WordPress that would help smooth this process over, let us know! In the meantime, know that we do read your comments and appreciate them very much (I even read through the infinite amount of spam we get to make sure comments don’t fall through the cracks).
Finally, we just returned home from a quick road trip to New Hope, PA to visit the George Nakashima studio. As soon as we can get the photos uploaded we’ll share a snippet on the blog.