Distill is a store specializing in Canadian designed goods. It's a near perfect mix of crafts, jewelry, and clothing, all made in Canada. I feel the need to begin with a word about its location...
My impression of the Distillery District since it opened has been that it was just another tourist destination - a place to drop off visiting relatives for a couple of hours.
My first visit there was to see a friend's gallery space, and a quick assessment of the area shops was that they reeked of that old marketing ploy - the forced theme. If you've ever visited the "quaint village" at a big ski resort, you know what I mean.
But the Distillery District is more than that. It's home to individual businesses, artists, and distinct shops that just happen to share a nice historic environment. (I know I am not alone in my first impression of the area, so I feel that needed saying.)
Distill is one of the many shops and galleries that make this area worthy of an afternoon stroll. But the focus on Canadian talent makes Distill exceptional, and a 'must visit' stop (before or after having a fresh bread sandwich at Brick Street Bakery and going on a Segway ride with Segway of Ontario).
The store truly shines in the jewelry department. For men, there's a solid selection of cufflinks from Toronto's smart GreenShag ($80). And Judi Patson makes cufflinks from spirit levels that have been duly added to my wish list ($180).
Nicole Kagan understands the interplay of metal and stones in ways that are flattering, and at the same time, lightweight (prices vary - drgo bracelet $80).
Anneke Van Bommel channels the wilderness through icons of the Canadian outdoors in pins, broaches, and earrings. Axes, logs, and hockey players adorn her silver and wood creations.
I found lots to like in the store, especially in the invited artists' area. This is a portion of the store devoted to an artist, or group of artists, to comprehensively explore their work.
A recent visit revealed complexity, skills and talent that duly impressed. Lana Filippone has created shot glasses and teacups that are smart, well-executed, and a reminder that made by hand is better (shot glass $16, tea cup and saucer $64). I'm impressed again when I ask about them and I get a description of the complicated reverse screen print process from the artist herself, who happens to be tending the store. Thanks again, Lana.
Shuyu Lu's jewelry is also a standout. Her Ball necklaces' slight lines and yet solid proportions belie the level of difficulty involved in one-off jewelry.
Photos by Jason Tavares