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The Other Side of Notre-Dame

Peppered along Montreal’s Notre-Dame West are a handful of decor and design shops that diverge completely from the street’s identity as a destination for antiques. Surface Jalouse, Léo Victor, Point Rouge and Viva Galerie all break the traditional mold and reflect the street’s inexorable march away from an industrial past toward a residential and very trendy future.

Out at the cutting edge of this transformation is Surface Jalouse (No. 2672), a young company that’s using new printing technology to invigorate wall coverings, fabric and furnishings.

Jalouse is a collective of graphic designers steering their talents in the direction of home decor. Behind the snazzy, roller-blind curtain, above centre, is an enormous, high-tech digital printer that can output vinyl — the company’s bread and butter is wall tatoos — mesh and cloth, “almost any material,” says company VP Antoine Al-Zawahri, top pic, “although it doesn’t do well with shaggy surfaces.”

I was particularly impressed with the shop’s coffee tables, which feel incredibly modern.

Also pushing the modern envelope is Léo Victor (No. 2480), a furniture store where colour is king and some of the chairs look like jesters. This is the most eye-popping, hue-happy shop I’ve ever been in. The store is slowly moving away from designer knock-offs and into the construction of original pieces by local creators. There’s almost a Memphis quality to the Léo Victor showroom which may be a savvy marketing move since the 1980s are roaring back into the decor spotlight.

Just across the street is Point Rouge (No. 2471), a shop/gallery that mixes fantastic, contemporary art with a mish-mash of mostly French antiques. (Mish-mash, by the way, is a popular Quebecois expression and the name of a ubiquitous Montreal breakfast omelette featuring potatoes, salami and hot dog weiners.) The white walnut sleigh bed in the window (above left) is Louis Phillipe circa 1860 while the rococo armchair below is Louis XV.

One of the Notre-Dame shops Mike and I especially enjoyed was Viva Galerie (No. 1970), a large, sumptuous space brimming with fine art and antiques most of them from China and Tibet.

When we saw the delicious salad gallery owner Michel Coté was bringing in from Griffintown Café (No. 1964) next door we resolved then and there to make that our lunch destination. And a good choice it was: in addition to the delicious food, we got to appreciate the wild wall sconce below. An artifact of Canada’s centennial celebration, Expo ’67, the illuminated metal sculpture is nearly four feet across. Wow!

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Saturday, July 25, 2009 by Chris
This post was written by - who has written 845 posts on styleNorth.

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