The Best New Design Stores in Toronto, 2010
The best new design stores in Toronto might be where you'll find a couch, a vase, a vintage Brownie camera or set of "Thank You" cards, but they won't provide you with any suggestion that we're living through an era of monolithic aesthetic consistency.
Sure, the wind is still blowing from the mid-century modern, but it's identikit: some fab '50s, a bit of Scandinavian Modern, a dash of Mad Men office minimalism and a lot of '70s newlywed style. But the buffed-up junk shop treasures have been returning to our living rooms, heralding, perhaps, a revival of Art Deco or a sudden influx of clutter and Victoriana? We'll see what the next year brings.
In the meantime, here are the best new design stores that opened in Toronto during 2010.
This big, bright space in Caledonia Road’s design district is a sign of the triumph of modernism, which is now popular enough to fill a vast space like Shelter with more reasonably-priced North American items instead of high-ticket imports. The large space affords its ability to display dining room sets – space-hogging suites that often get shunted to catalogues and websites in smaller downtown stores.
These two cluttered floors of decent modern knock-off furniture is probably a lot more like what your place will look like than some spacious, white-painted showroom, which is probably why you’ll feel more permitted to really try out a sofa or two. Prices are aggressively reasonable and sales almost constant, and you’ll spend even more time checking stuff out now that they have a LIT coffee bar in-house.
This onetime Consumer’s Gas office opened up with glass and clever wells punched through the three floors to let in light. It’s no surprise then that the collection of high-end modern furniture looks so precious, even intimidating. Avenue Road departs from many of its luxury competitors, however, in featuring a selection of pieces in gorgeous, finely-finished exotic woods, which do a lot toward warming up all that glass and metal.
Opening a new location in King East’s designer row just around the corner from their old one, Kiosk’s owners have put a lot of air around this striking, graphic collection of modern, minimal furniture, so it’s no surprise that you often feel like you’re in the lobby of a boutique hotel. There’s a lot to be said for hotel living, however, which is why so many people have embraced its rigorous aesthetic, while stores like Kiosk are eager to help you achieve it, with items like a spidery floor lamp that looks like it could scurry away at any second.
Design isn’t just chairs and tables, which is why Pixel Print made our list for its bright, winsome graphic arts – greeting cards and notebooks and prints, many produced in the back rooms of this Dundas West shop. They do custom orders as well – everything from business cards to posters, at more than reasonable prices.
There are stores where you can buy your glass and hardwood coffee table, and there’s the store where you find something to put on it; Pimlico is the latter. Small and white-walled but still intensely colourful, it’s full of vases, candlesticks, table lamps and storage items – tchotchkes seems an unkind word – from the place where whimsy meets modernism. That place is mostly Europe, where a generation of Starck-inspired designers have forced playful and simple to get along.
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