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Design Stores

Commute Home

Posted by Staff / Posted on May 9, 2010

Commute HomeCommute Home is my perfect design store. There are many design stores to love in this city, but Commute's inventory of constantly fresh products and designs appeal to my short attention span. If you've got an Ikea problem, their distinctive brand of home furnishings will cure it, assuming money is no object of course.

Commute HomeCommute's retail shop on Queen is really just a front for a multi-faceted business with multi-talented employees. Their showroom is a carefully curated and ever evolving mix of products that are either for sale or just please the owners mightily to have around.

Commute HomeThere is always some refurbished office or industrial lighting from the past and some current work that is intended to look timeless. Indeed, a hallmark of the best Commute work is that it literally defies dating. Early on in my visits to the store I overheard someone ask "Is that from the 50's or Russia or what?", I find myself repeating that very question almost every time I go in.

Commute HomeThrough their commissioned works for some big name restaurants, Sara Parisotto and Hamid Samad who co-own Commute, have left their subtle signature all over town and beyond. If you've ever eaten at Terroni's Queen location right across the street you've seen their work : ditto for the Adelaide and Los Angeles locations. How about Colborne Lane? Cinq 01? Nyood or Babur? Any of these places prominently feature the quirky aesthetic of Commute.

Commute HomeThere is no bored salesgirl or overeager greeter here - the staff are working on their next design. The "sales desk" is always cluttered with things like textbooks, research material or, test pieces.

Commute HomeOver the course of the last few weeks I watched a gorgeous "headlight chandelier" come to fruition on the back table. Which brings me to my next point. The store begins at the Queen street end as a very public friendly retail store... as you make your way towards the back, the space becomes a bit more intense and you begin to realize that the store is also the prototype lab. Things get built and tested right here. How honest is that?

Commute HomeYou can literally see things travel from prototype to product in store. It's the "open kitchen" restaurant applied to design. A business model that has more in common with a bakery like Pain Perdu than a furniture store like the Brick. If they could persuade people to eat their dinner tables instead of eating at them - they'd be rich.

Commute HomeThere is a manifesto / poem cut into a wall of the store that has cemented itself into my psyche. I like it for a number of reasons, but mostly cause it ends like this:
"We make it for you
because we like you."

2Commute HomeIt's more earnest than a Simon & Garfunkel lyric and finding stuff like that makes me like Toronto a little more.

Photos by Mauricio Calero



Pookie Pal / May 9, 2010 at 08:53 am
This store looks fantastic, I look forward to checking it out! Great Post..I like the last line the best!
LMIH / May 9, 2010 at 09:45 am
My office is furnished mainly with items from Commute and it's just flat-out amazing. Commute is definitely of the highest quality with lasting style.
mr / May 9, 2010 at 02:19 pm
Ian I typically like your posts and still like this one. However, my problem is with the very distinct commute home design. I can walk into any restaurant listed above and quickly see and feel the commute home signature, weathered materials, old-school lights, exposed painted brick. It's all really nice, but the fact that I can pick them out with a quick glance through the window just says to me "OK, nice, but do you have anything else, or a different style you want to show me?" To be fair Terroni is the most distinct of what I have seen from CH, and the design is indeed timeless.
Ratpick / May 9, 2010 at 10:09 pm
Agree 100 per cent with "mr" above.

Also, more than once I've seen this shop passing off some steel-item-with-the-paint-stripped-off as "stainless." I know that other area residents have remarked on this over the years.

ian / May 9, 2010 at 11:26 pm
Thanks for the compliment, mr - I appreciate it.
I could pick out an old Dylan song coming out from a cafe's window in much the same way - and like it. His new stuff, not so much. Be careful what you wish for.
Also, please pat yourself on the back - If you can spot a restaurant's designer through the window - you may have a new career awaiting you.
Dave / May 9, 2010 at 11:40 pm
I went here with the intent of purchasing a custom dining room table based on the recommendation of a friend. I was told, I would have to come back to speak to a “designer” but I wasn’t offered an exact time when to come back. This store screams Queen West attitude. Perhaps, I wasn’t dressed cool enough to warrant a meeting with the “designers.”
karen / May 10, 2010 at 09:09 am
In reply to Ratpick's and Mr 's comment. Commute never has bases with paint stripped off offered unless its vintage. I have had tables made there in the past and it's either steel or stainless, and they educate you on the difference......and if you are not sure, use a magnet, that will tell you.
Mr's, there are so many people that are trying to do what Commute has been doing for years.
Mike Jones / May 10, 2010 at 11:36 am
Its really expensive!
stacey / May 10, 2010 at 12:35 pm
While this store is quite beautiful and very expensive, I scored a headboard there last week for $30. It helps that I live two doors away but there are frequently one off pieces on the sidewalk for really cheap. Plus, it's a great place to gather ideas for projects you can build yourself... for far, far less money.

Here's the headboard: - I wouldn't be surprised if they found it in the alley behind the store and slapped a price tag on it.
Lily / May 10, 2010 at 05:52 pm
I agree that most restaurants designed by Commute Home do have a very specific aesthetic, but that is perhaps because these restaurants do ALL commute home style, not just pieces mixed in with other styles to create a more personal style for the restaurant. I agree that Terroni is the exception for this.

It's like clothes..... just because you wear a pair of skinny jeans doesn't mean that you look like a hipster. But if you are wearing the skinny jeans with the plaid shirt and the nerd glasses and messed up hair and the converse sneakers, then you will look like every other hipster in the west end.

After that long and strange rant, haha, I do love CH, but it is important to mix and match and be creative when you buy stuff from there to create your own style. And that goes for skinny jeans too.
Andy / August 24, 2012 at 04:50 pm
What can I say? Interesting stuff. However, when they were still on Queen West my wife and I went there looking for a table and a few other pieces. We were ready to spend a significant amount there as we do like the style. We were treated with such snobbish condescension and rudeness by whoever the guy in the store was that we soon left without buying anything and never went back. You can be as good as you want at designing things but if you are an AH with people you remain an AH! :)
Toronto Dude / November 9, 2013 at 05:30 am
The best interior decorators that I know. I even like the guys clothes. I go their for ideas to create in my home, cuz it is very expensive. Anyways, have a nice night.

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