Smash, a design store meets art gallery in the Junction, makes an immediate impression with a large, pink Jesus prominently on display. It dangled above me, hanging haphazardly from the top of the gallery window right by the entrance. Hesitating, my eyes then veered to the rusted metal racks filled with industrial-sized spindles of string, and beyond where a large banquet table propped with modern lamps, oversized wrenches, and a profusion of lab beakers occupied the middle of the room.
Is Smash a movie set? A surreal junkyard? No, but it has elements of both and is one of the most interesting new stores to grace Toronto in the past 12 months.
Befitting its eclectic neighbourhood, Smash fills its long, gutted space with an amazing collection of salvaged industrial/architectural items, many of which were procured during a recent buying trip to Argentina. To some, these large, massive objects and furniture may seem like ancient artifacts of our utilitarian past but they do offer a refreshing, contemporary feel - even if serious creativity is required to imagine how they might fit inside the average Toronto apartment.
The whole store is filled with unique, one-of-a-kind pieces that won't be found anywhere else in the city. An industrial vanity ($1,400) or steel medicine cabinet ($1,275) serves a more useful purpose than a tall church window or wrought iron gates. Think outside of the box and you can build your own furniture with beams of reclaimed lumber collected from demolished buildings and barns, and other salvaged material and artifacts scoured at various sales and auctions across North America and abroad.
On the recession-friendly side of things, there are a number of affordable objects available here as well including multi-coloured suitcases ($40) and contemporary art pieces by local artists such as Kagan McLeod ($20 and up).
On a stretch of Dundas West dotted with antique stores, Smash is one of the stars. There's so much eye candy here it's ridiculous. And since opening in the Spring of 2008, many have flocked north of Bloor to attend the store's diverse art happenings curated by Jerome Jenner in his gallery space that is infused throughout the store. Remember that bright pink Jesus?