Even & Odd
Even & Odd is a pretty little home decor boutique that sits in a slightly less pretty and little stretch of Toronto's Corktown.
As I make my way along Queen to the new design shop, I pass a couple of boarded-up windows and more than a few men staggering along the sidewalk. That's not a judgement — simply an observation — but it did make entering the floral-scented boutique feel as though I had entered a new world.
Owners Carmen Tsang and Winnie Yip, however, looked specifically to Corktown when deciding to open their new shop, not deterred by the area's... uh... "eclectic" cast of characters.
"We picked this area," Carmen says, "because of the new condos going up. There will be many new homeowners, and the area is developing." They're not alone in thinking this. Corktown is quickly becoming a design destination in the city.
"Somewhere like Leslieville," Winnie chimes in, "is already developed."
Even & Odd offers a mix of rustic and chic, selecting mostly small home decor items sourced locally and from abroad. Carmen and Winnie, who have been friends for more than a decade, tell me they have long been interested in interior design. They finally decided to leave their web design and marketing careers behind this year in favour of launching their own business stocked with some of their favourite things.
"This generation loves things that are new and unique," Winnie says, who adds that she bought her first condo about three years ago. "They have the basics, but they want to mix and match with unique accessories; to show off a bit of their personality."
That "personality" is where Even & Odd come in. Carmen and Winnie guide me through the space, starting with the back area that houses some of the shop's bigger pieces. "A woman came in and said she had to have this," Winnie says, running her hand over a mango wood stool with an iron base ($189). The women have paired it up with a cast iron table with an oversized crank than can adjust it from bistro height right down to side table ($750). It looks like industrial salvage, but Winnie and Carmen assure me it is new.
There are a few vintage items sprinkled throughout the shop, though the majority of items are new. One of my favourites is a pepper mill made from salvaged fallen branches found in Ontario ($69). The mill literally looks like a tree branch, until you turn it on its side. There are smaller gift items too, including bags of maple caramel corn from Quebec ($4.50), mini glass bowls made in Spain from recycled glass ($6), and various types of Savon de Marseille soaps ($5). "We plan to put some of these together for pre-made gift baskets," Carmen says. "Something to bring to a housewarming."
Even & Odd also plans to offer custom furniture design in the coming months, as well as a comprehensive online shop. For now, customers have to head to Corktown if they want to check out those nifty wooden pepper mills, and they might as well take a mental snapshot of the neighbourhood while they're in the area. Judging by Even & Odd, things are about to change.
Photos by Morris Lum