Paloranta 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.
This 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.
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, coffee, or serving your guests. It just depends on your priorities. Paloranta has well-made things that will improve your home.
Design 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.
This 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.
Another 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.
Scandinavian 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