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Designing A Perfect Present

For those who get totally stressed Christmas shopping I have one piece of advice - go local and stay out of the malls. Over the course of two rainy days I've found nearly everything I need in Bloor West, Parkdale and West Queen West, granted I've been buying for people who love design as much as I do and it's always easier to find unique gifts away from the dreaded mall.

Relatively new to the block is blue igloo in Parkdale, a small shop with a bit of everything for the home. Every time I go in I leave with something for my flat, but this time the silver teardrop lamp I picked up had someone else's name on it. At Jolanta Interiors on Bloor every kitchen accessory you could dream up is somewhere on its shelves. Smallish brandy glasses were a nightmare to find anywhere else - they were out, too pricey or not the right shape - but they were a quick find at this established shop in the village. Wish I'd bought the ramekins for creme brulee for $1.50 a piece at Jolanta's instead of at Williams Sonoma at $11 a pop, though WS did wrap them up extra pretty.

Of all the places I'd been Studio Brillantine at Dovercourt and Queen is my fav. Whenever I'm lost for gift ideas SB is where I end up. I spent an hour looking at every piece in the store - Stelton's stainless steel coffee set by Arne Jacobsen, Shiseido candies from Ginza, Toyko and minimal digital watches by Philippe Stark. It's the kind of stuff that wins design awards and gets noticed - conversation pieces - the kind of pieces people usually don't buy for themselves but would love to own and probably don't already have. I left with a great bag of goodies, easily finding something for the home-office guy, the entertainer and the traveler too all in one simple spot.


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