To do: The Design Exchange

Here’s something for the upcoming rainy weekend in Toronto: check out the new and ongoing exhibits at the city’s  Design Exchange (DX).

Located in the spectacular space formerly the hectic trading floor of the Toronto Stock Exchange, the Design Exchange “is Canada’s only museum dedicated exclusively to the pursuit of design excellence and preservation of design heritage.”

I highly recommend dropping by to see what’s in house and on display at the DX, and if you have no time for a proper tour, the gift shop is a mecca of cool finds, unique books and design gifts. I’ve always found a DX visit inspiring and refreshing and I know if you’re reading this blog, you’ll like your visit.

A few current exhibits you will enjoy at the DX:

Vertical Urban Factory, Sep. 3- Dec. 9. Looking at more than 30 factories to consider their integration within urban settings such as Detroit and New York, with case studies such as the American Apparel factory in L.A. and the VW “Transparent” factory in Dresden, Germany. (paid exhibit)

Considering the Quake: Seismic Design on the Edge, Sep. 13 – Dec. 9. “Design meets practical application. Examples: From ARUP’s Hermès Building featuring the work of Renzo Piano Architects in Tokyo, Japan and their York University Subway Station with Foster and Partners in Toronto, to Daniel Libeskind’s Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, to Cast Connex’s seismic technology that will be included in New York City’s World Trade Center 3 design.” (included with general admission, about $10)

Permanent/ongoing exhibit –  the Must-See:

DXUNCRATED

This exhibit features iconic pieces from the Design Exchange’s permanent collection, which celebrates Canada’s rich industrial design history from 1945 to the present. Spanning over five decades, the Design Exchange’s permanent collection covers more than six hundred industrial design objects and archival materials including furniture, housewares, textiles, electronics, and lighting. DXUNCRATED illustrates political, technological, and social changes that occurred following World War II to present day. Items on display will include the famous Clairtone Project G Stereo (pictured below), Thomas Lamb’s Steamer Chair, and Russel Spanner’s Dining Chair.

The Clairtone Project G stereo produced by Clairtone from 1964-7 is a Canadian design icon

To celebrate all that is design and Canadian ingenuity, this year’s annual fundraising party coincides with the DX’s relaunch on November 16, featuring interactive design installations, fancy food from celebrity chefs, and today’s big names in Canadian design. Find out more here.


20 Below: Penny Paper Co. Packaging

The Penny Paper Co. is a Toronto-based stationery supply company owned by Lindsay Stephenson (of Little House Blog and BlogPodium fame). I’ve had my eye on her custom stamps for a while but I have only recently noticed these sweet cream-coloured drawstring bags.

large cotton drawstring bag, $6.25

Use them plain for wrapping small gifts or personalize them, fill them, and use them as party favours. Time to get crafty!


Celebration: Labor Day

What have you got planned for Labor Day today? A BBQ with family and friends perhaps?

Eva Solo Table Grill

Enjoy a wonderful day!


Forging French doors

This week I had the most exciting time meeting and getting to know one of Canada’s foremost window dressers, Philip Minaker. Having created hundreds of major storefront windows during more than 25 years as a style director for many iconic Canadian and international retailers in Toronto and his home town of Winnipeg, Philip is a fascinating individual unlike any other.

His boundless creativity and problem-solving know-how are only surpassed by his sweet and fun personality. Philip is a fashion force and he’s put on countless runway shows and deconstructed trends working for various styling and retail roles at The Bay, BCBG, Lipton’s, Eaton’s, Mondi, Parachute, and the list goes on and on.

He is known for his stunning sales-boosting windows and his ‘let me show you’ philosophy about sharing his fashion knowledge. His windows are known to increase sales; a job well done, then. Look for his work coming up at Toronto’s downtown Josephson’s in the next few weeks- he told me that he’s currently fabricating the set pieces for the fall windows.

Beyond having a keen eye for styling, trends and balance, Philip is an incredibly talented artist and he creates much of what you see in his displays. Today’s French doors featured below are an example of his incredibly simple take on getting what you need: make it yourself.

When I met Philip on the weekend during his first of two moving sales, he invited me in his home where he has these gorgeous antique French doors behind a bed (those aren’t for sale, though, sorry! but just DIY for these and drop in on Philip’s second sale for other very cool stuff).

These gorgeous French doors are not real; they’re two large format prints of doors that are glued to large pieces of foam. The antique look is truly outstanding and the quality of the print here is just right, working in favour of achieving that natural aged look that the doors have.

The best part about all this is that they weigh nothing! They’re made of foam! You know, the inch-and-a-half rectangle sheets of white foam from the craft store. So simple. Philip told me that he cut the print and foam in the curved shape at the top and he has another piece that creates an archway to really bring it all together. I think they are spectacular just like this.

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Images courtesy of me via Philip Minaker

You’ll want to be there for Philip’s second moving sale in a few weeks, September 13-16: he is parting with some of his window dressing treasures including props, decorative urns, industrial art, art hangings and artist canvasses, art that he has created, beautiful vintage mannequins, and so much more.

You’ll love meeting Philip- just drop in to say hi and check out all the fascinating pieces of his career that he’s selling to new good homes, and meanwhile take a look at his moving sale ad on Kijiji– lots more pics there to see what he’s got on the floor (including Herman Miller La Fonda chairs…).


Marketplace: Fierce Deer

Last weekend I attended the Home County Folk Festival here in London. There’s a festival almost every weekend here in the city but I think Home County might just be my favourite. The music is great, the crowd is relaxed, and there are always some creative vendors. This year I was most attracted to the pretty jewelry and the lace and vintage window display at Fierce Deer, a Toronto-based shop owned by Kate Swan.

pretty white lace backdrops at Fierce Deer

the Fierce Deer earring collection displayed on lace-backed vintage windows

Fierce Deer necklace charms

pretty knobs (remember this post?) hold necklaces

silver-plated necklace

a cup full of charms that are used for custom design

a creative vintage display at Fierce Deer

it’s the details – like the consistent deer theme – that make this shop so charming

Kate’s white cat – brings the shop good luck!

what I walked away with – a tiny bear on a long chain necklace – a must for my menagerie

It was great to meet Kate and to explore her charming jewelry shop. If you’d like to see more – go on and visit Fierce Deer.

Photos by Jordana.


At the cottage

This week I’m writing my White Wednesday post from our family’s beautiful cottage in the Haliburton Highlands, which is really just on the edge of Muskoka in Ontario. We’re on Livingstone Lake- a small, quiet lake near the quaint town of Dorset.

I came up here this week for a few days to relax and help out my dad who is building me a stunning canoe made from a cedar tree on our property that he cut and milled into cedar planks. The canoe has a ribbed interior that is now undergoing coats of clear varnish and its exterior is wrapped in a canvas that is coated with various fillers before being painted its final hue: a brilliant vermilion red! (My colour choice).

Today I share with you a few white things that caught my eye around here and give you a glimpse into the most special place in my life and the canoe that is nearly done.

There are all kinds of species of trees here, including birch (pictured above).

I quite like exploring clusters of trees, especially a magical spot where tall hemlock trees

create a very high canopy that prevents much underbrush from growing. Birch trees

let a lot of light through their leaves and many ferns and saplings grow underneath.

When you’re out on the Canadian Shield you’ll find lots of rocks

and since my dad is a geologist, rocks have always been in our viewfinder.

This is a piece of white granite that is a decoration in my stepmom’s garden bed.

These are the tips of kayak paddles. I grew up in cottage country in Québec and Ontario

and my dad is a perpetual sportsman, having always loved and sought adventure. He taught me how

to ‘Eskimo roll’ back in my early teens and we went down a river in kayaks when I was barely

barely 13 years old. We still have the kayaks and I paddled them last month.

Ta-da! Here is my canoe wrapped in canvas and coated in a white sealant.

It’s sitting like this under the deck drying for a few weeks and then

we’ll apply another coat of sealant

This is a closeup that shows the strokes of the paintbrush from coating the canvas

with white ‘stuff’ that has the effect of an egg shell finish, and the interior ribs sticking

out until they’re trimmed where the gunnels will be.

This is the can of filler that was brushed onto the canvas on the canoe

This is one end of the canoe and if you know your canoes, you’ll recognize the shape- it’s a Prospector.

This boat is slightly modified and built to be strong, fast and hold a good amount of camping gear.

Shifting, gears, we use a four-stroke motor to putter across the lake in an aluminum boat

during the in-between seasons when our regular ‘big’ boat is in storage for the winter.

I really like the type for this number four

This large buoy prevents us from accidentally scratching the hull of the boat

as we dock it. Not that we really *need* the bumpers but… just in case

Our cottage is off-grid and water-access, so learning how to tie knots is important.

Talk to seafaring folks and they’ll never call a rope a rope- it’s a ‘line’. A line can be used

for just about anything- I always keep one kicking around. I’ve been taught how

to tie a bowline knot but I always forget how, and this self-strengthening figure eight

is never quite right when I do it. My dad did this one when I arrived on Monday afternoon

and mine didn’t look nearly as nice.. so it’s not pictured

This is a danger warning sticker on the boat’s dashboard:

Warning! do not put your feet into the propeller. Ouch :S

I’ve been treated to beautiful sun and puffy white clouds this week.

I took this quick pic off the dock while looking for white stuff;

I’m hoping that when Jordana does make it up here for a visit she’ll

show me all the white things I’ve missed in today’s cottage tour for you all.

Happy summer, everyone!


Art: Abstract and Affordable

It seems that we’ve got summer activities and art on our brains this week. I was browsing through the amazing work of some Etsy artists last night in hopes that I would find inspiration for the three blank canvases that are waiting for me (this was the last piece I painted – a year ago!). What do you think of the works I’ve gathered here?

$50, Adriane Duckworth

$280, Tainted Canvas

$325, Letter Happy

$260, Linda Monfort

$81, Lulu & Drew

Do you buy original art? Do you always have a budget?

Or, do you prefer to make your own?