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Design Stores


Posted by Ian Milne / Posted on May 12, 2010

PalorantaPaloranta is a tiny shop on Queen near Niagara that is teeming with smart Scandinavian home furnishings. This isn't a place to go to outfit your whole pad - it's a bit too pricey for that. But it is the place to to make a wish list, treat yourself, or buy your best friend a birthday present.

PalorantaThis well-curated shop is actually one of three - the other two are in owner Teemu Paloranta's home country, Finland. A visit to their website confirms that the Toronto store is just the front door of a larger entity.

PalorantaYou can buy a cheap bike that will get you around, or you can buy an expensive bike that will be aesthetically pleasing and improve your ride. The same principle applies to making ice cubes, coffee, or serving your guests. It just depends on your priorities. Paloranta has well-made things that will improve your home.

PalorantaDesign stores sell stuff that has been well thought out. That is to say, someone thought about the intended use, took time to improve the product, and specified materials that make it thinner, lighter or more durable. In short - better. Often the result of good design is that the product looks better too.

PalorantaThis is the case with many of the Eva Solo products carried by Paloranta - the fact that they perform a function is almost a bonus when they are so nice to look at. The beautifully crafted Smiley Bowl ($129) or a handsome Glass Bird Feeder ($189) are both on my want list. I admired an award winning Ice Cube Bucket and tray combo, but at $120, my practical side wouldn't allow it on the list.

PalorantaAnother line of products available at Paloranta is Marimekko - the Finnish brand that enjoyed worldwide popularity in the 60's and 70's, and which has always been difficult to find in Toronto. The time is right for a revival of Marimekko's signature punchy patterns and colours. You'll find them embossed on everything from wallpaper and tablecloths to shower curtains. I like a certain Birch tree pattern shower curtain, but is it worth $60? I think that depends on what the rest of your bathroom looks like.

PalorantaScandinavian design, and Finnish design in particular, has enjoyed long-term popularity because of its simplicity, functionality, and beauty. I wish I could afford more of it.


Photos by Jason Taveres



Joseph / May 14, 2010 at 09:01 am
None of this stuff is ironic or used. I'm confused.
Adam / May 14, 2010 at 10:16 am
Teemu also sells his own art in the store (some of it seen in the second last photo on the left wall) and he has a lot more downstairs. Great little shop.
Darcy McGee / May 14, 2010 at 10:47 am
Buy vintage. It's better for the environment, and probably better made.
matt / May 14, 2010 at 11:36 am
for such a designy store, their sign is pretty lame.
ian milne / May 14, 2010 at 11:46 am
Maybe I should have made them a sign instead of reviewing them. And Darcy, the idea is that if we don't buy some nice product now - the next generation won't have anything other than vintage landfills.
Darcy McGee / May 14, 2010 at 01:03 pm
Yes I know. Buying quality new is better than buying crappy new.

Buying quality vintage is better than buying anything new. It defrays the environmental cost over more years.
Darcy McGee / May 14, 2010 at 01:07 pm
> You can buy a cheap bike that will get you around, or you can buy an expensive bike that
> will be aesthetically pleasing and improve your ride. The same principle applies to making
> ice cubes

That made me laugh though. A bicycle is a pretty complex piece of machinery compared to an ice cube tray. There's definitely quality differences in bikes. I'm not so sure about the latter, but if you feel better making cubes in a $100 ice cube tray from Scandinavia, you should meet my ex-wife.

I can make ice in pretty much anything and the quality isn't going to be much different--it probably depends much more significantly on the water & the freezer I use than the tray, which is little more than a receptacle for water.

(For what it's worth, I use a space invaders ice cube tray and an easter island head ice cube tray.)
Brad / May 14, 2010 at 10:45 pm
Teemu is an amazing individual who came to Canada to share his passion for art. This store is definitely worth checking out. For a country with a population roughly the size of the GTA, Finland has produced some amazing product and talent!

L replying to a comment from Darcy McGee / May 15, 2010 at 03:53 pm
I have actually used a couple of crappy ice trays in my time. One was a vintage stainless steel one at my grandma's, which looked really cool but was a ridiculously un-user-friendly design. I had a couple of trays from the dollar store, and they sucked for so many reasons- weren't stackable, plastic cracked, ice cubes never cleanly came out, etc.

I agree that we shouldn't consume so much new stuff. Reusing anything rather than letting it go into a landfill, clearly is the best choice for the environment. But, when we do have to buy new things for our lives, it is best to buy quality with the idea that it'll last a long time. I think we should all get into the habit of paying more for things when we have to buy new, but buy less often.
Samantha Madonik / May 16, 2010 at 07:41 pm
Thanks for posting about the store Ian. :) I work at the store and we have a gallery in the basement and are always taking submissions for new emerging and mature artists to exhibit/sell their work.If anyone is interested they can email me at

Also just a miner correction, Marimekko was popular in North America in the 60s and 70s...not so much the 80s...And the Ice cube tray is actually a cooler as well as a maker.

thanks :)
Jake / May 18, 2010 at 12:10 pm
Finland is not a part of Scandinavia, its a part of the Nordics.

Cool stuff though.
Mei / August 2, 2010 at 09:38 pm
I agree the sign could be much improved. I bought some amazing Marimekko wallpaper here. Really hard to find cool wallpaper in Toronto. Teemu was great to deal with. I Recommend this shop!!
Tea / November 24, 2010 at 02:57 am
Moi Jake,

5 countries belongs to Scandinavia: Finland, Sweden, Norway, Danmark and Iceland.

And yes...we are cool :-)

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