Modani, located in the Castlefield Design District , is the first Canadian location for the U.S. chain of home decor stores. The Miami-based design company set up shop this past November in a two-floor space, marking the latest in a string of shops that includes Chicago, Dallas, L.A., Miami and New York.
The company, founded by a trio of Frenchmen at the onset of the late-2000s recession, aims to give shoppers "modern furniture at a wholesale price" - the company has been known to boast that their wares are "three times more affordable than the average designer furniture store".
Modani's PR representative, Monica Diaz, explains that the brand skips the lengthy (and cost-adding) distribution chain used by most high-end furniture stores by dealing directly with factories (a sort of Everlane for the home). "They're developing it at a wholesale price. They don't need to mark it up so much, since it doesn't go through so many layers. They take out all the middlemen."
The move into Toronto was a natural fit, Diaz says, since the company has historically set up shop in "known shopping hubs where people go around the U.S. to shop for products or get the latest trends, whether that's fashion or furniture."
Strolling through the 25,000 square foot shop is an immersive experience, with pieces divided into spread-out vignettes anchored by tone-setting murals. The pieces themselves are a mix of that all-chrome condo-chic look, some midcentury modern and whimsical Scandinavian-style pieces, and even a few gothic baroque twists (including Louis XIV-style chairs and a showstopping domed-top chair).
It's a pretty varied mix, but the store's still developing a personality of its own - Diaz says the more modern, streamlined pieces tend to sell better in L.A., New York and Miami, while Chicago and Dallas favours more down-to-earth pieces in warmer tones. She adds the "neo-classical" collection is being phased out in favour of the more modern, poppy look featured in the right-hand wing of the store, where bright-yellow table lamps sit side by side a with midcentury-inspired coffee table that lifts its surface on a hinge for easy access to storage.
Some of the pricing can seem all over the place - in the fake ivy-upholstered patio section, you'll find a chaise longue for $290, or an entire rattan patio set that folds itself into a giant sphere for $890, while the aforementioned floor lamp goes for over $500. Diaz says the company uses a variety of materials and methods to hit at a variety of price points - microfibre, vinyl and leather chairs, for example - so while pricing may be up and down, you'll inevitably find something you can take home.
Deeper discounts can be found on their still-developing second floor, which features floor models and discontinued pieces at a minor discount (a ballpark 20% off). In addition to refining and expanding their product offerings, Modani plans to expand their network of stores as well - Diaz hints at an "aggressive" expansion plan set to add 10 to 12 showrooms across North America within the next two years.
Photos by Jesse Milns.