November, 2011

Day trip to St. Catharines

November 30th, 2011


Yesterday we left the city to visit my parents. On the way there we stopped by Rise Above for some lunch, a vegan cafe/bakery/restaurant that my brother has been raving about. It was nice coming back home to see some life injected back into the old stomping grounds. I’ve always had long conversations about how to resurrect these beautiful downtown areas, and my big idea is to take over an entire block of real estate with a group of other young entrepreneurs offering something unique, and instantly creating a destination area worth visiting.

I’ve seen a lot of singular business with good potential have to close down because of little foot traffic, so it makes a lot of sense to create a reason for people to spend an afternoon or night in one central area. This could start with a manageable 3 businesses, most of the buildings in these areas are beautiful and the rents are very low. Investing a bit of money to the interior, branding, and signage are all key to the success of the business and branding the neighborhood. It doesn’t take too long to instill a sense of pride in the community if you simply bring the area back to it’s former glory, and give people something to be proud of.

Rise Above is positively setting the tone for the potential in this area so hopefully we’ll see other interesting new businesses follow suit.


Now back to our lunch! The menu is comprised of an enticing collection of vegan comfort foods. They also had their daily soup, market sandwich, and pizza of the day.


I ordered the special which was a chana masala wrap with a green salad.


Juli got the potato/broccoli/vegan cheese ball with a side of oven cooked root vegetables.


The inside is so nice, it really shows the potential for the rest of the interiors on the street.


The Donuts looked delicious, but we had to pass since my mom had already promised to make us a batch for dessert.


After lunch we took a walk down St. Paul St. to scope out any other new gems in the neighborhood.



There are still too many vacancies though, which is a shame since it’s an interesting street!


We walked by a recently cleared area and it turns out they are planning to build a performing arts center designed by Diamond and Schmidt architects. This could be the very thing that this downtown area needs! It will bring out so many people, and before and after concerts people are going to want to go out for dinner and have drinks.

Really looking forward to seeing what it looks like when it’s finished.


And then a foggy ride to mom and dad’s for dinner!

Filed under: General | 10 comments

Mjolk Gift guide 2011

November 24th, 2011

It’s hard to believe it, but the holidays are right around the corner. Hopefully you already have some gifts in mind this season, but if not take a look at a curated little gift guide we made in the store yesterday.


Stocking stuffers:

Kuro Cube – A charcoal fridge deodorizer $25
Crow bottle opener – $28
Wrapwrap – wood cord organizer – $20
Bird – Made in Denmark, designed by Kristian Vedel $55



Goats milk soap – Made in Finland $10
Goat hair face brush – Made by visually impaired craftspeople in Sweden $18
Comme Des Garcons unisex perfume – designed for Artek, made in Italy $140
Hudsalve – Made in Sweden $12
Concrete Shaving kit with traditional badger hair brush $98


For the survivalist:

Kuksa cup – A traditional hand carved drinking cup $65, $75, $85
Hudsalve – Developed by the Swedish military to prevent frost bite and dry skin $12
Kishu Binchotan – Charcoal water purifier $28


For the Bar:

Skultuna Brass champagne coaster – Designed by Claesson Koivisto Rune $65
Wood bar spoon – hand carved by Japanese artisan Tomii Takashi $85
Tin cup set – designed by Oji Masanori and moldable in your hands $140
PUG! muddler – Made by Chris Gallagher $85
Brass crescent bottle opener – designed by Oji Masanori $50


For the traveler:

Corona globe – designed by Nendo $98
Leather passport wallet – Made by Kenton Sorensen $120
Hoi Bo travel bag – Made in Toronto $740


For the ladies:

Eve aluminum bracelet – designed by Claesson Koivisto rune $65
Belle brass jewelry stand – designed by Claesson Koivisto rune $120
Krummi hanger – Made in Iceland $45
Hoi Bo leather toiletry case – Made in Toronto $160


For the foodie:

Brass knife keeper – Designed by Oji Masanori $300
Kakudo butter case – available in walnut as well $120
Thor Bjorklund cheese knife and planer – $15 each
Cara egg cups – made of linden wood $20 each
Vegetable brush $12
Tomiyama Koichi Japanese walnut cutting board $120


Hostess gifts:

Pia Wallen felt coasters $28
Beech wood and horse hair table brush set $38
Charcoal water purifier and mouth blown bottle gift set $120
Cast iron flower shears $68
Kin set of 5 brass tea light holders by CKR $85


For business:

Pia Wallen leather notebook $50
Kenton Sorensen iPad case $200
Masakage Tanno wood business card case $175
Cherry wood shoe horn by Oji Masanori $89


Thoughtful gifts under $30:

Kartio glass by Kaj Franck – many colours available $25 for a set of 2
Peel cup by Nendo $28
White and black Dala horses from Sweden $25 each
Kivi tea light holder (Many colours available) starting from $18
Dress up vase $28


Thoughtful gifts under $100:

Kami mug – Keeps your hot drinks hot longer $75
Copper scissors – $85
Kazan volcano tissue dispenser $90
Ceramic soap dish by Masanobu Ando $65
Same same but different set of 3 drinking vessels $55


Thoughtful gifts over $100:

Ceramic pitcher made by Masanobu Ando $185
Hand tooled oak tray by Tomii Takashi $225
Black lacquer ware dish by Tomii Takashi $120
Magnetic wood cone shoe horn by Nendo $350
Raw candleholder made by hand using a band saw $275

Filed under: General,Mjölk | 6 comments

HOPEA at Mjölk

November 19th, 2011

Recently I discovered HOPEA, an online shop that sells vintage modern Scandinavian and Canadian jewelry. Coveting was immediate. Although I’m generally a no fuss kind of person who rarely remembers to put jewelry on, I’ve been trying to dress it up a bit more. Modernist jewelry is my happy medium. Simple, clean with interesting form.

Honestly, it was hard to pick just two pieces. Cosima has an amazingly curated selection of necklaces, bracelets and rings, everything from clean minimalist to brutalist.

Erik Granit “Spheres” Bracelet, silver, 1974.
Maker mark, “E. Granit & Co.”, “925”, “V7”, “Made in Finland”

Designed by Jorma Laine and produced by Kultateollisuus Ky in Finland, c. 1970.

We got to chatting, and in no time we realized that it would be nice for people to come and see some pieces in person. So we’ve curated a small selection at Mjölk.

So, if you’re in Toronto, you should come by the shop to see these pieces in person! If you’re out of town, definitely have a browse on HOPEA‘s fantastic website.

Filed under: Mjölk,Thrifting | 1 comment

Building permit finally approved

November 15th, 2011

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If you have walked / biked / or driven past our store during the last few months it would be fair for you to think we had closed down based on the amount of scaffolding and hoarding in front of our building.

Unfortunately the scaffolding needed to go up to assess the state of the windows, and stayed up during the entire permit process. Now that the permit was finally approved yesterday everyone is scrambling to get the exterior work finished before the winter, and to our dismay the facade work won’t be completed until January.

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Through the whole permit process you find yourself starting to loathe the bureaucrats at city hall. The act of simply stamping a piece of paper that had already been approved by two other people should not take 8 weeks to do. The worst thing is you try to be nice with them, because you know if they sense attitude your project might end up at the bottom of the pile.

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At the end of the day, news of the approval made us more optimistic. Things are happening upstairs and there is a new energy to get the ball rolling on everything. We have come to terms that the renovation won’t be completed in time for the baby, but in the end it will all be worth it.

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A plywood slide to carry down all of the debris to the lower roof. Not the easiest site to work on!

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Hopefully the updates in the future will start to look less like an industrial work site.

Filed under: Home Reno | 6 comments

OMFFG (Only at Mjölk: Fredericia furniture goodness)

November 9th, 2011

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On Thursday we celebrated the opening of the Fredericia furniture showroom at Mjölk. This has marked a new chapter in the evolution of the store, we’ve gone from carrying a range of different furniture collections to focusing on a few key collections. A big reason for us to open the store in the first place is because of Fredericia, and not being able to see their collection locally.

You may or may not be familiar with our 1960s black leather sofa by Børge Mogensen, we purchased it at auction a few years before opening the store. Originally we thought we were getting a good price for a Mogensen sofa but after adding on a few additional expenses:

20% hammering fee
Packing and crating
Ocean freight to Canada
Driving to the airport to clear customs
Paying duties and taxes
Paying for local delivery from airport to home
Payment for de-crating and disposal of packaging

After everything it would have cost the same to order a brand new Børge Mogensen sofa, but there weren’t any retailers on the East of Canada. It was this experience that lead us to our first thoughts of opening a store. We thought there must be other people like us looking for this type of furniture in Toronto, and if they had a way to see it and order it they would buy it from us.

Fast forward to opening the store and visiting the Fredericia factory for the first time. We met with our friend Elizaveta the export sales manager, the president of Fredericia Thomas Graversen, the Fredericia office staff in which we could finally put names to faces, and the incredible team in the workshop. After an amazing day of talking Mogensen, Ditzel, and FurnID we got home knowing this was a company we wanted to do business with.

Now we have worked together to launch the official Fredericia showroom in Toronto, which we are thrilled about. Thomas and his wonderful wife Henrietta flew in from Denmark to come for the event, and Elizaveta came from a trip around the world.

We were so happy to see a lot of familar friends, designers, architects, and customers all in one place. The night had a wonderful positive energy as people enjoyed the catering from Parts and Labour, good conversation, and (in our opinions) the most beautiful furniture on earth.

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The wall of Trinidad chairs in all the colours of the rainbow.

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Nara Coat Stand.

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Thomas and Liza.

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We set up a projector on the glass wall at the back featuring a movie about Fredericia. That is Thomas’s father on the left and Børge Mogensen on the right.

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The 2213 sofa at the end get it’s name from the internal length of the sofa. A length specifically designed by Børge Mogensen so he could lay flat on the sofa from head to toe. A length my brother really appreciates when he crashes on our Mogensen sofa.

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The Spanish Chair.

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The best part of the night for me was sitting around the dining table after everyone left and just chatting the night away.

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Gallery Stool.

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A few thoughts on Fredericia:

By the standards of cabinet making in Denmark during the time Thomas’s father took over the company, Fredericia’s furniture was not considered craft furniture, it was modern and built efficiently. By today’s standards Fredericia is considered to be craft furniture, as other companies made concessions to create cheaper and more mass produced products. There is an uncompromising attitude when it comes to making classics like the 2213 sofa by Borge Mogensen. Longevity was such an important aspect of Mogensen’s work that he only used the best materials. Although as time went on material costs and labour became more expensive, the construction of the sofa has remained the same.

When Thomas purchased the company he brought in a fresh perspective. Thomas brought the idea of sub-contracting to Fredericia, the idea of if we can’t make something let’s find someone who will. A piece like the Sting Ray chair started it’s life as a wire mesh chair made  by Thomas Pedersen. After seeing the work at an exhibition, Fredericia put the chair into production and constructed it using the largest plywood vacuum press in the world and has since won dozens of design awards. Another example is the Trinidad Chair. At a time when routers were in their infancy Thomas and Nanna Ditzel worked to create the Trinidad chair using the efficiency and accuracy of this new technology to create a fan pattern in the back and seat of the chair.

These are some of the reasons why we admire Fredericia, and are honoured to be apart of the family.

Thank you for everyone that came out on Thursday, and to Thomas, Henrietta, and Liza for flying all the way to Toronto to celebrate the opening.

Filed under: Mjölk | 7 comments

OMFFG: Fredericia Furniture Showroom Launch

November 8th, 2011

Filed under: Mjölk | no comments