September, 2012

George Nakashima Studio – Part 2

September 27th, 2012


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.



Wind chime.


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.


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George Nakashima studio – Part 1

September 25th, 2012

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.

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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.

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Elodie, a progress report

September 14th, 2012

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.

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Mjolk guest cottage!

September 3rd, 2012

This is officially the last weekend of the summer, and we’re currently sitting on our deck after a large pancake breakfast sipping on some coffee. I’ve been asked a bunch of times how the cottage renovation has been, and when we were going to be posting some more photos.

We’ve been holding off sharing it because we let Remodelista have the exclusive to the story. Since there will inevitably be some readers who don’t follow Remodelista, or simply missed the article we wanted to do our own post about it as a nice farewell to the summer.

Of course, I have the feeling we are in store for some beautiful weather in September, we can already feel the cool breeze coming off of Georgian Bay.


I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but the whole inspiration for this cottage was the “Finnish summer home”. There is a large Finnish and Estonian community in Ontario, in fact we have the highest amount of Finns outside of Finland. We liked the idea of bringing back the cottage to it’s original state with natural pine floors, and simple practical furniture. We wanted the pieces we chose to furnish the cottage with to feel as if they had always been there.

Now taking a second to study this photo, you can begin to appreciate what adding a layer of plaster did for the white fireplace. When it was simply painted stone it just didn’t look right. We also added an iron hook and a Japanese palm broom and dustpan to break up all of the white.


The Swedish sconces look just like tree branches.


A pair of Aalto shelves with some Japanese iron sculptures, an old laminated wood architecture model, a milk bottle terrarium, a birch bark box to hold matches, and a brass Wirkkala-esque candle holder.


For the dining room, we settled on a table, bench, and chair set by Ilmari Tapiovaara.


We even picked up a stool for additional seating, or to be used next to the fireplace to stoke the fire.



I think it pairs really well next to the vintage Aalto bar cabinet.


Stacked rocks.


The stool in the foreground is an early 1930s/40s Aalto stool we found at Machine Age Modern in Leslieville. The sofa is a blue Hiroshima sofa by Naoto Fukasawa with beech wood legs.

The sofa choice was inspired by Aalto’s blue sofa we saw in his home in Helsinki.


Aalto also used these Zebra pillows on that blue sofa in his home, so we order a couple for ourselves directly from Artek.


All of the bedding is colourful striped sheets and pillowcases from Marimekko. In all of the bedrooms we have small Aalto luggage benches.



The second guest bedroom with wood blinds from Bamboo Bazaar.


Both of the wall lights are paper and wood lights by Miguel Mila. We’ve started to carry his lighting in our shop, I just haven’t had the time to update our website yet!


The final bedroom actually fits 2 twin beds, both with lime green striped bedding.


An Aalto bench as coffee table, and the beehive pendant light.


Finally the best room in the house. Furnished with two beautiful Alvar Aalto daybeds upholstered in Aalto’s Sienna pattern.


I can’t believe the summer is almost over, but we’re really looking forward to the fall. We’re getting a bit anxious to travel, so hopefully we can line up a trip or two before the end of the year.

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