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Iceland – Design March

Posted at 4:10 pm in Travel

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We attended Design March in Reykjavik, Iceland the other week. Previously we had only ever visited Iceland during the summertime, when the sun is always present, so it was surprising to me when I looked out the window of the airplane and saw complete darkness. Arriving just before 6am (1am our time at home), the darkness and intense sideways rain both shoved us into bed until 11am. Usually we just grab breakfast and push through the day, but the winter is like that.

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We started the day off at the Grey Cat, which has retained its charm and coziness.

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Thankful for the brightly coloured buildings on such a grey day.

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First visit to Harpa. The last time we visited it was nearly complete, but not open yet.

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We only managed to catch the last two talks of the day thanks to our excruciating jet lag (I think parenting  children under the age of five and travelling across time zones are two things that just shouldn’t happen at the same time – next year we’re going south).

Stepping into the future by Dr. Thorvaldur Ingvarsson, EVP of Research & Development, Össur reminded us that design is more than tableware, furniture, graphics, etc. Prosthetic design improves quality of life, and I admire this Icelandic company for its commitment to continually innovating and pushing their product further.

See The Unseen by Lauren Bowker, The Textile Alchemist (pictured above) was inspiring in that Lauren has a lot of vision and passion, and has brought together science, textiles and performance to bring understanding and greater meaning to things like pain and emotion.

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Design March opening party at the art gallery.

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The weather was as they say. If you don’t like the weather, just wait 5 minutes. In one day we saw rain, snow, hail, wind, sun, all of which was on repeat by the hour.

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Dinner at local spot Snaps. Nice atmosphere and good food. One of the only new (to us) places we tried on this trip.

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Post dinner we popped into Geysir for a few minutes and when we left this was happening. Just wait 5 minutes…

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….

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We stayed at the relatively new Icelandair Marina Hotel and it was a great hotel. Nice rooms, better than standard buffet breakfast (or you can get a different breakfast option at the cafe), and nice communal spaces if you are so inclined to meet up with others or want to get out of your room for a bit.

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As an aside, I just revisited all of our posts about Reykjavik, which seem to be mostly still relevant and can be visited here. A few changes:

Dill restaurant is no longer in Nordic House but it moved to a new location and I highly recommend getting a reservation. We missed out this time…

Friða Frænka the antique shop is closed. From what I gather the owner was ready to retire. A loss to downtown Reykjavik for sure.

Spark Design Space will be closing April 1, 2016 due to rising rent. Another loss for downtown Reykjavik.

Icelandic Fish & Chips seems to have moved down the street and another fish and chips place has replaced it? Weird?

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mjölk Publishing

Posted at 12:04 pm in General,Mjölk

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Mjölk: Volume 1

Inspired by Japanese shop and gallery catalogs, this project has been in the works for over a year. We worked closely with book designer Emily Tu, with words by John and photographs by Juli, to bring you the first Volume of what will hopefully be many publications over the coming years.

Inside volume 1:

Cafe Valand tour – Stockholm
Iris Hantverk workshop tour and interview with Lovisa Wattman
Kaffi Mokka tour – Reykjavik
Takashi Kougei workshop tour
Andrea Maack interview
Vik Pronsdottir interview
Iba Takahito home tour
Takano Coffee – Niseko Japan
Tanno Studio workshop tour
Pia Wallen workspace tour and interview

Curated guide to: Stockholm, Reykjavik, and Asahikawa Japan.

A little peek of the inside.

104 pages.

Printed in Toronto, Canada.

Available to be purchased here

Filed under: General,Mjölk | 5 comments

SS Mjölk Pylsur

Posted at 12:35 pm in General,Mjölk,The Junction

Mjölk is recreating Reykjavik’s “Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur”  in front of their shop–with a cheeky nod to their logo.

Come join us on Friday, August 5th, from 7-11pm, or until the dogs are all gone.
mjölk – 2959 Dundas Street West, The Junction, Toronto

Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur means “The best hotdog in town”  and after 60 years in business they have become arguably the most famous hot dog stand in the world.

We will be cooking the hot dogs just like at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, steam cooking them in LAVA beer (courtesy of Fitumi Trading Co., who imports Icelandic Beer which you can buy at the LCBO), and importing all of the authentic toppings including a special Icelandic mustard, remoulade mayonnaise, ketchup, and frizzled onions directly from Iceland.

After you’ve had a hot dog, visit the other participating shops and galleries (on Keele north of Dundas, AND on Dundas west of Keele to just past Pacific)–Narwhal Gallery for an art opening, Russet & Empire for Paper Moon Photography, Opticianado for a history of eyewear, Margret bar for the after party, and more!

Copenhagen: Part 1

Posted at 2:39 pm in Travel



We arrived in Copenhagen after a 3 hour flight from Reykjavik. Unfortunately due to the time change we were having what felt like breakfast in the late afternoon in Copenhagen. We dropped off our bags at the hotel and trekked over to Cafe Dyrehaven, one of the coolest local spots in Copenhagen.

In the 70s this place used to a really dodgy bar, one could even use the term drug den. Of course like many rough neighborhoods the cafe now caters to young locals in the hip Vesterbro district.

The bar looks as if it has been untouched since its opening.

I knew this place had a reputation for a good Eggs Benedict so that’s what I wanted to get. The eggs sat on a piece of dark rye Rugbrød, the combination was fantastic. I think it may even be better than an english muffin.

Juli had the fried cod with buttery dill on rugbrød.

After breakfast we took a long walk, it’s been a good 2 years since we were last here but everything is still so fresh in our minds.

Danish bike culture is amazing. Then again, we shouldn’t take it too hard. There are no hills, and no notorious bike thieves like we have in Toronto.

We didn’t have much time to visit many shops but we wanted to visit Klassik, one of the largest collections of mid century Danish design in the city. I also really wanted to visit Dansk Mobelkunst which I would say is the best curated vintage shop in the city but it seemed to be missing. Maybe they moved? Maybe we walked right by it and missed it… Next time we’ll write down the address.

A beautiful specimen, a vintage Hans Wegner “the chair”.

Three amazing Poul Hundevad stools, on my wish list for sure.

One of my favorite chairs of all time, the Spanish chair by Børge Mogensen. We sell them in the shop!

There is a really cool street called Jægersborggade which we kept on coming back to during our stay in Copenhagen. It has an amazing collection of great cafes, bars, and some of the best eating in town. For our first night we were off to Manfred’s, opened by former Noma sous-chef Christian F. Puglisi. During the day it is a gourmet take-away, and at night it becomes a tiny special sit down restaurant offering the best of local and seasonal ingredients.

If you can book in advance there is seriously limited seating available. — brunch available on weekends.

We were a little early for our reservation so we stopped by MusiksMag Bar, also known as the music cafe for a drink. We really fell in love with this place, they keep it really simple:

Pour over coffee, cheap red wine, or 40 kroner Carlsberg.

Time for our reservation!

They have a record player in the corner and tons of vinyl, they keep it going until close without skipping a beat.

Our table had a little chalkboard paint on it to label the reservations.

As an appetizer, Juli had the fresh salmon with buttermilk.

I had the creamy cauliflower soup with crunchy croutons, so delicious.

Our main was ox tail, roasted beet, and bulgar. It was a great combination and a wonderful meal, we had to waddle back to our hotel.

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Travel essentials 4

Posted at 4:39 pm in General

You may or may not have heard, but we are leaving Monday to go back to Scandinavia. We’re starting in Reykjavik (Iceland Air stopover), then heading to Copenhagen, Stockholm, and finishing in Helsinki. This time of year is a wonderful time to travel, it’s getting warmer but cool enough to trek around with a jacket, and we’ll be there just before tourist season.

A big mistake we made on our last trip was not preparing for rain, it poured for most of the days we were in Stockholm and I ruined a pair of nice leather boots. This time we are bringing our rain boots and jackets with us, along with a slew of other handy things we wanted to share with you.

The two rain boots on the floor we both purchased during our last trip to Scandinavia. Juli picked up a pair of Ilse Jacobsen low rise rubber boots, and I got the classic Swedish Tretorn rain boots.

From top left / clockwise

Mucu pocket notebook $15
Mucu blank notebook $14
Kuksa camping cup $85
SIWA glasses case by Naoto Fukasawa $28
Masakage Tanno business card case $165
Ruler
Pencil from MUJI
Japanese pocket tape measure

The Kenton Sorensen Dopp kit is just a classic, I take it on every trip and it only gets nicer with use. $200

I picked up a beautiful white travel electric shaver at the MUJI in Narita Airport. Honestly, I purchased it because the design is just so pleasing, but it does a pretty good job, and the size is perfect for traveling. Underneath is a soft cotton VIC face cloth I purchased from Canoe in Portland.

The great thing about going back to a place you’ve been before is that you are familiar with the city, and you don’t need to rely on travel guides to find your way around. The exception is the guide in the photo above which was gifted to us on our last trip to Reykjavik. It’s full of obscure spots that only true locals would know about.

For instance, best place in Reykjavik to enjoy the sunrise, or where to get an ice cream cone.

Juli – I’m not going to lie, I bought this gorgeous Hoi Bo purse after seeing a well-worn one on an acquaintance. And then I ran into another friend who had an even more worn-in one. These bags age so beautifully. The trip is the perfect time to break it in, because the bag is big enough to carry my honkin’ camera, a book, and a sweater.

Also pictured is the Kenton Sorenson passport wallet, which I love because it helps me stay organized. $120

We have definitely stepped up our luggage in the past few trips and replaced everything with nice Filson bags.The hat above is designed by Naoto Fukasawa for SIWA and is made by highly durable Naoron paper, which will be fine even in the rain.

We’re looking forward to start blogging on location! See you in Scandinavia!

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Icelandic pottery

Posted at 3:06 pm in Thrifting

We never really got around to sharing the Icelandic pottery we found during our trip to Iceland. We got this little vase from an antique shop called Fríða Frænka in Reykjavik. It’s a simple shape with an interesting texture.

There were some pretty neat lava vases which were really textured, but the colours were a bit to intense for us.

The bottom is stamped “Glit” a ceramics studio founded by Ragnar Kjartansson in 1958. I don’t think it exists anymore, but there was another studio producing similar “lava” vases that we poked our heads into during the trip.

Filed under: Thrifting | 4 comments