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Design Stores

Metropolis Living

Posted by Ian Milne / Posted on July 24, 2010

Metropolis TorontoMetropolis Living is an inviting new store in the Junction that sells vintage home decor pieces. That description barely does justice to this fun shop. Something about the playful juxtapositions of objects and their skewed scales, or the smart re-purposing of materials brings a smile to my face. And I'm not alone - on two recent visits, I was amused to see others who were actually laughing out loud at the pieces for sale.

Metropolis Living TorontoIt's refreshing to see this trend of "value added" vintage taking root in Toronto. The key is that it's not just cleaning up some old piece of equipment and putting a price on it, but actually re-inventing a new, desirable piece out of something that would have been scrap. One of the best examples of this is a superb dining table that was created by grafting a section of a bowling lane onto table legs. Presto! Easily the coolest dinner table I've seen all summer. ($2,895)

Other stunners include a glass-topped table with a base made from an industrial cord spinning rig and a coffee table transformed from an industrial cart. ($1,895)

Metropolis Living TorontoMany of the objects are just well-chosen pieces of history, like a 1940's miniature motorcycle taken from a carnival ride ($1,195), or an improbably cool tripod lamp with a spinning colour wheel ($595).

Metropolis Living TorontoTo suggest that these pieces will promote conversation is a given, but I'm happy just having such cool things around me to inspire me. My idea of something interesting to frame and put on my walls is an antique blueprint of a bridge ($350), so I was pleased to find a sterling example available of that here.

Metropolis Living TorontoSignage letters are near and dear to me as well, and a nice selection is available. The collection included (past tense - it's sold) a monumental 10 foot tall M ($2,200) that someone smart snatched up for their garden.

With so much to look at and friendly staff, I'll be back soon.Metropolis TorontoMetropolisMetropolisPhotos by Dennis Marciniak

Discussion

36 Comments

Langford / July 28, 2010 at 09:23 am
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This place is magical. There isn't a piece of 'junk' in it.
Matt / July 28, 2010 at 09:38 am
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When a coffee table made of scavenged material costs $3,000, it's not value-added. It's ridiculous.

A bunch of steampunk-inspired knick-knacks and artfully distressed junk selling for hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Not a good omen for the Junction's future.

There's definitely some cool stuff to be found, no doubt. And some serious creativity at play, but it's as much in the exploitive prices as in the design.
Danzel replying to a comment from Matt / July 28, 2010 at 09:44 am
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We've watched more and more "Antique" stores pop up in our neighbourhood (the Junc) and are always amazed at how much some yuppies will pay for refurbished crap. Anything in the name of "Art" or "Cool" tho, right?
kari / July 28, 2010 at 11:14 am
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One man's "junk" is another man's treasure - thanks for the post Ian - I've been on the look out for big sign letters and am excited to go check this spot out!!
Angie / July 28, 2010 at 11:18 am
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I visited this store recently and was amazed at all the cool stuff! I think it's a great addition to the Junction...I would rather have a higher end store in my area than a second hand shop any day...If I can afford to buy something I like, I will buy it...
annakarenina / July 28, 2010 at 11:33 am
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whatever matt.. u cant put a price on an idea. the people running this store had the vision to bring these objects to light. what makes a coffee table made of wood and chrome any more valuable than a table made of scavenged materials? NOTHING is priced according to the worth of its materials. If this was the case, everything would be dirt cheap then. This is why people PAY designers.. what takes me 30 minutes to layout on a computer is priceless to someone who doesn't have the ability or foresight to imagine it themselves. thats just how it is.. deal :P
Matt replying to a comment from annakarenina / July 28, 2010 at 12:14 pm
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I'm not suggesting some of the stuff isn't cool. I'm just saying that the prices are outrageously high.

And that I hate to see how every neighbourhood in central Toronto is slowly turning into a collection of shops peddling overpriced lifestyle accoutrements to rich people (or people who must have very over-extended credit). All part and parcel of making the city unaffordable for all but the privileged.
Angie replying to a comment from Matt / July 28, 2010 at 12:21 pm
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Matt...The city is very diverse...rich, not so rich, whatever...It's the difference between buying a cadillac or a civic...there are cars for everyone...just because you can't afford a cadillac doesn't mean you should leave comments that their prices are ridiculous...go for something you can afford...the city's been hit hard all around the last few years...why don't you just praise people who take a chance to make a living? Is it offensive to you? If you don't like it you don't have to buy it....Live and Let Live and I'll quote my mom "if you don't have anything nice to say don't say it at all!" Peace
ian milne / July 28, 2010 at 12:26 pm
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I don't just write these posts, I make things, using new and old materials. This isn't stuff from the garbage given a paint job, it was cool to begin with and now it's even better. If you want to hate on things in your 'hood, Matt - go find a usury "cash for cheques" place.
Matt / July 28, 2010 at 12:58 pm
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Yes Angie, it is offensive to me. I think it's decadent and ridiculous. That's just my opinion.

But hey, it's a big city... there's room for ridiculous decadence. Live and let live, right? But, my very reasonable concern is that inner-city Toronto is slowly becoming one giant district for frivolous, inessential decadence. This is not a model for a healthy city. That's all. I care about Toronto. I want it to remain diverse and accessible for everyone.
Gregor / July 28, 2010 at 01:44 pm
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Maybe it would be easier to stomach if Ian had made some reference to the prices being very exclusive. For example, I can't recall a restaurant review on this site that blithely referred to $100 entrees as delicious, sans phrase. On the other hand, the tone here can fairly be interpreted as "Tra-la-la, look at all the decor I can get for the cost of your annual rent!" If this was a high fashion website, nobody would be irked. But you can't expect that most of your readers could merrily pick up a $3000 coffee table. Some recognition of that seems like an easy and obvious gesture of respect.
Langford replying to a comment from Gregor / July 28, 2010 at 02:09 pm
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It is a dinner table, not a coffee table. The price is in the article - $3000. Of course it's a lot, it doesn't need to be pointed out as a "gesture of respect".
Payday Advances / July 28, 2010 at 04:02 pm
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To Ian Milne: Getting off a tangent, but what makes "cash for cheques" any different than this store? Applying the same logic to these cash for cheques businesses, if there are people willing to pay for the service, then so be it. Along the same lines, if people are willing to pay huge sums for furniture or anything else, it's reasonable. There's value in both services - don't discriminate just because it isn't creative or what have you.

To Matt: You want accessibility? There are thousands of stores in Toronto selling every imaginable good and service that cater to consumers in every income bracket. You can get furniture for free on Craigslist for goodness' sakes. Why would you care what other people are spending their money on? You say your model of a healthy city includes diversity but how is hating on an expensive furniture store promoting diversity.

And what is up with your obsession with "decadence". Some people would consider the fact that you are commenting on a meaningless store review on blogTO incredibly decadent when you could be putting your time to more productive use.
Matt replying to a comment from Payday Advances / July 28, 2010 at 04:34 pm
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Point taken. I'm not hating on the fact that there are expensive furniture stores. Of course there are, and if/when I have the cash, I'll shop there.

But I have an emotional reaction to this sort of thing (exorbitantly priced boutiques.) I often feel that Toronto is becoming a city catering to a sort of exclusive, executive class of trend-obsessed professionals with identical taste in food, fashion, and everything else. It's boring, it's anti-urban, and it's not in keeping with the democratic, diverse image of Toronto we present to the world.
ian milne / July 28, 2010 at 04:35 pm
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Dear Payday Advances (Gee, I wonder what you do for a living?)

No one has ever willingly set foot in a "payday advance" store. They do it because they have to.
infernalmachine / July 28, 2010 at 06:32 pm
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i hear what matt is saying. he dislikes gentrification - and we'd all be blind to claim that gentrification isn't happening extremely quickly and seemingly in every nook and cranny of toronto. even regent park is getting the treatment (daniels is building condos there)

i completely agree - a good city is diverse, it shouldn't be an enclave for nothing but the rich professionals. we don't want to become manhattan (now mostly office towers and boutiques instead of places where art can thrive - all that action's out in brooklyn now)

i'm afraid if property values keep skyrocketing like they have since 2000, gentrification in toronto will only get worse. pretty soon jane and weston will be full of gastropubs.


i still think the stuff in this store looks really cool, and while it's overpriced it is all one-of-a-kind and designer.

ml / July 28, 2010 at 08:47 pm
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The hate is on for Matt, but he makes himself an easy target. However, as the last post pointed out gentrification is on the move. As a relatively young city we only change in 2 directions, wealth and poverty. Gentrification is a bi-product of wealth. I just traveled through the US and found high levels of unemployment. Much cooler Cities than Toronto to live in are experiencing up to 20% real unemployment. So would you rather be headed in the other direction? Think about it, 1 in 5 people out of work. Anyway, back to this store... the value of a table is relative, good deal to me, yet rip-off to you. I'm happy to be headed in the upward direction and happy to have stores like this in my neighbourhood.
n / July 28, 2010 at 09:09 pm
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Hmmm. to each their own. If you like it and can afford it, by all means buy it. To the rest just don't buy it... Even stores like this one may go out of business (I am not suggesting anything), depends on the customer support. It's good to see that some of you are considering these as affordable, but myself I think they are overpriced. And I dont like the design as well. I'll stick to west elm sales for my furniture needs.
Matt / July 29, 2010 at 09:08 am
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I make myself an easy target how? I guess by having a strong opinion... anyway, it's false logic to suggest that we have to choose thorough gentrification and sweeping poverty. Toronto has always been a pretty economically balanced city. Until these last few years, at least.

And we're still pretty good, but less so with every year that passes, and every neighbourhood that fills up its main streets with shops like this. Sorry. That's what I think.
Matt / July 29, 2010 at 09:08 am
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Sorry, I meant to say it's false logic to imply we have to choose BETWEEN gentrification and poverty.
Jenny / July 29, 2010 at 02:41 pm
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This is a really interesting conversation that has been articulately expressed. I think I understand all points of view. But my bottom line is that when I went in this store, my pulse quickened because I was stimulated by the creativity I saw there. What I like most is that the items are unique and that the owner will even work with you and items you already own to re-invent them, too. I wish this store was in my neighbourhood because it would be on my walking route and I could stop by more often. I haven't bought anything, but I probably will at some point when it is just the right thing for me. I love the idea that I would have something totally unique.
Payday Advances / July 29, 2010 at 04:11 pm
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Ian, if those people "have to" go to a payday advances store, what would happen if these places weren't around? Would YOU loan them money so they can make their rent and pay their bills on time? Would you do it for free? Keep in mind these are short term loans to borrowers who are almost certainly on the verge of insolvency?

BTW, sorry to get so far off topic from your original review of this store (which I rather enjoyed). Also, I don't work for one of those cash stores, I just chose the name because that those bright yellow signs were the first image to come to my mind after reading your comment.
ian milne / July 29, 2010 at 05:10 pm
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Payday,

Your comments are valid and well put, but you asked what the difference between a design store and a cash store was.

ian
EL / July 29, 2010 at 09:08 pm
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I am happy that this store opened in the Junction. Love their stuff.


PS: Don't be mean to Matt.
Everyone has an opinion. Respect that.
Matt / July 30, 2010 at 09:37 am
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Just to reiterate my first points, here's where I'm afraid this kind of thing leads to: http://tiny.cc/d0j5a

For those who don't click on the link, it's to Toronto Life's recent "baby essentials" list, including items like a $1,000 "changing station" from some ridiculous baby boutique on Queen West.

My problem is over-consumption, and the fear that Toronto is turning into a place where our urban lifestyle is defined by what we purchase, and where so much stuff is too exclusive. So I'm not happy to see this in the Junction. Because I like the Junction as it is, a slightly out-of-the-way place where under-the-radar creativity can flourish (and where decently-paid factory workers can still buy a house in the city.)
Minty / July 30, 2010 at 08:44 pm
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Matt, I agree with you about over-consumption. But stores like this shouldn't be the enemy when you talk about people consuming too much. Places like Walmart, IMO, are more evil than this place or Ella and Elliot. I have been to this store, and it is wonderful! I see it as a form of art gallery. You save up and buy a piece here, and it is memorable and you have it for a long time. I personally prefer to buy less and pay more for what few items I have, and really enjoy those items.
Paul / July 31, 2010 at 10:57 am
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Matt, now i'm not saying this to anger you I'm just, as you have done, professing my view. You state that Toronto is a Democratic city and that this store doesn't reflect the democratic nature of Toronto, but what you seem to be suggesting is anti-Democratic, its also seems anti-capatilist, there is always diversity in a city, when it comes to product and price range, In a democratic/capitalist city, everyone has equitable right to choose what they are willing to purchase, your argument seems to be falling along the lines of a socialist argument, what your suggesting is a controlled economy, where price and product is regulated. if you've ever eaten at Mcdonalds, some people would state that you are willingly fuel a multi-billion dollar corporation, who is taking all of the capital produced for them by canadians out of canada, isn't it better to use toronto's personal capital to fund small family owned businesses who will willingly put money back into toronto's economy?
Matt replying to a comment from Minty / August 1, 2010 at 11:52 am
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I dislike Wal-Mart, but this is sort of an elitist view. Wal-Mart sells necessities at low prices to people who can't afford to shop elsewhere. Metropolis Living does not sell necessities. Not that people shouldn't indulge sometimes, but the comparison doesn't hold water.

We can talk about the unfairness of Wal-Mart's business model, and their exploitation of third-world labour, but that's a different issue.

And Paul, you've somehow misconstrued what I've said as being anti-small business and advocating a controlled economy. I don't know where you got that from. I'm gonna stop checking this thread 'cause I'm just pissing into the wind here.
Marco / August 3, 2010 at 11:40 am
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To me all that surrounds is art. I believe that there should be a variety of stores for people who appreciate different art. I do not think there is room for bias and prejudice whether the art is a $10 poster or a $3000 coffee table. Part of the diversity of this world includes these and everything in between. A large part of life is recognizing this and learning to appreciate it; not only in art but also in culture and the world at large. Failing the ability to appreciate then tolerance is the only alternative.
T / January 11, 2011 at 12:16 pm
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re: the argument about this store and it's relation to over-consumption. If you look at it in a different light, this type of store actually helps combats over-consumtion as it works to re-use discarded/reclaimed furniture and other discarded pieces to make them re-usable and revelant to today's aesthetic.

I, myself a young working 'middle-class' (i hate to make those references but it provides more context) professional, appreciate great/creative design and have been slowly furnishing my condo over that past 6 months. That beign said, I cannot afford to furnish my condo with completely new furniture that cuts my taste, just not affordable to me. So, I decided that the majority of my large items I purchased would be second-hand/bought at a discounted rate etc. I would then put in more money into a couple key items that would set the tone and feel of my decor, for instance, my couch. Using this strategy and some creativity I was able to buy the $2K couch I wanted while still remaining within budget for my furnishings.

Now in terms of afforability for the lower-income bracket, shopping at such stores may not be as possible, but it doesn't mean that they shouldn't exist...there are plenty of more affordable stores (little store called IKEA comes to mind) and of course many second-hand stores (Goodwill, Salvation Army etc)that may be better suited. Goodwill used to have a great 'flagship' store around the George Brown Culinary school campus where you could bid on used furniture pieces that had been donated. I was able to get a great chest of drawers, solid and good quality for very little - does anyone know if its still operating in the city?

Re: Jenny - thanks for the tip, I have a great table that needs re-doing, maybe i'll go in and talk to the owners to get their recco.

Peace!
Gregory / January 11, 2011 at 01:26 pm
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I love how this website has turned into an online
mix martial arts battleground.
Good thing it's legal here now or you'd all be
in trouble. Except Matt. He's the champ!
Laughing at you all.
AStar / February 15, 2011 at 04:30 pm
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Matt,
I would far rather purchase a priceless piece of furniture from a small business owner than purchase an affordable piece of junk from Ikea or the like. The owner's at Metropolis bring these items in from all over the US and bring them to their store in the Junction. For you to do the same you would have to source it, drive way out or get it couriered, refinish it and then pay staff min wage to sit in your store and sell it. More expensive, yes but fair, absolutly. I much prefer taking my time to purchase life-long pieces of art/furniture that I will not have to replace in a few years as they are broken or just scream of Ikea.

Your argument about Walmart is just offensive. Try living in a small town, and owning your own small business when Walmart moves in. You're closed in months and working for the beast for min wage not long after that. They wipe out entire microeconomies for disposable crap. Talk about elitist.

Payday,
Fine, you have a point. I just don't like the fact that you are a block from three women's shelters and there are three of you within 2 blocks. The Junction is cleaning up its image and I hope eventually they will wipe you out too. If you didn't exist, our government would have to deal with the larger problem at hand. Because you do exist, they can sweep it under the rug while you make a profit on people's welfare cheques. Shame.

AStar
Bill / June 20, 2011 at 01:02 pm
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You're a small man, Matt, aren't you?
M replying to a comment from Bill / June 20, 2011 at 01:33 pm
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So would you be even smaller for belittling someone for having an opinion? Even if you don't agree with him, he articulated his thoughts very well without attacking anyone.
Elaine Rushlow / March 25, 2012 at 11:19 am
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I am always intrigued at how people can think outside the box and make something simple into something creative and useful. Do I always agree with the pricing? No. So here's the answer...if you like it but it doesn't fit your budget...go make it yourself. If you can't then well...that's what the designers and craftsperson's are...keep up the good work all. Peace.
Mike / November 25, 2013 at 04:19 pm
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You guys should list on http://www.bulletinboardfurniture.com/

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