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Joe & Josephine: For Everyman and Everywoman


If you're anything like me, Christmas is a very conflicting time of the year. As much as I enjoy finding gifts for friends and family, the insanity of Christmas consumerism often leaves a bitter taste in my mouth after eventually getting all my shopping done. With this in mind, for the past few years I've made a consistent effort to purchase my gifts from local artists around Toronto. This year, that (last minute) list will include a couple pieces from the small but beautiful Joe & Josephine collection now being exhibited at the MADE Design Store gallery.

More photos and info on the collection after the jump...

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First off, if you've never been to the MADE Design Store on Dundas West (just east of Manning), you should definitely make the trip before the 25th rolls around. Described by owners Shaun Moore and Julie Nicholson as a "design product retailer working to build a valuable resource of modern Canadian design", the "Canadian-ness" of it all, without resorting to obvious beer commercial-style antics, makes me smile every time I visit. With this in mind, let me tell you a little bit about the Joe & Josephine collection currently being featured in their cozy little gallery.

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Describing themselves as "a design collective that brings seven diverse backgrounds together in a unique, multi-disciplinary space", a predominent focus in their work is to consider human beings and their complex relationships with objects. This is where the cleverly thought out name, "Joe & Josephine" comes in. Originally coined by Henry Dreyfuss in the mid fifties, these two fictional characters were used as representational tools to embody the physical and psychological characteristics of every man and every woman. These two characters drive an ever important goal of the collective to fill the gaps between human behaviour and design.

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Inspired by the intimacy of MADE's gallery (hidden away at the back of the store), the collection was put together in an effort to call attention to the smaller, and sometimes overlooked areas of the home. These objects make clever but subtle references to the comforting act of collecting and the hidden nooks and corners of our lives where one might not assume to find much meaning or personality. One of my favorite pieces that plays quite intimately with these ideas are Kristen Lim Tung's framed embroideries (shown above), which she lovingly calls Rock Collection ($60).

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Another rather beautiful pairing are Heather McGaw's Do What You Will Do quilt ($250) with her and Caroline Arsenault's Cozy ceramic lamps ($270), outfitted with what I can only describe as little wool leg warmers. Though the idea of wool warmers hugging already heat expelling lamps might seem slightly unnecessary, simply the sight of them proves quite effectively heat providing and... well... cozy.

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Lastly, these Stick Collection brooches (another creation by Caroline Arsenault, $80) are my personal favorite. Though I'm a little low on Christmas funds at the moment (banking on those Christmas cheques hidden under the tree), I'll be sure to return in the new year to pick up one of these gorgeous little keepsakes.

If you're in the same boat as me money wise, don't fret. The collection will be featured in the gallery until Februrary 2nd of the new year, and all items (many not pictured here are equally as lovely) are available for purchase through the good people at MADE. This leaves PLENTY of time to scrounge some dough together to support some talented local designers and craftspeople. Happy (local) holiday shopping!

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Stick Collection photo by Caroline Arsenault.


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