New Canadian Classics?

Monday, April 14, 2014 by Chris


On Thursday, I dropped into Toronto’s Urban Mode for a preview of Alberta designer Tim Antoniuk’s latest furniture series for his company, Question Objects. Truth be told, it was the three-drawer console above with its quirky, off-kilter legs that got me out to the media event. I wanted to see for myself if the quality lived up to the design on these Arctic-inspired, made-in-Canada pieces.

Manufactured in Edmonton, Question Objects furniture is shipped to boutique retailers across North America — Urban Mode is the exclusive Toronto seller. The pieces are made of solid walnut or oak with some bent plywood/veneer construction for the distinctive, curling corner pulls on the Leaf series cabinets. The drawer boxes are lined with a textured, anaglyptic treatment.

“I think people love surprises,” says Antoniuk, “and when you open the drawer it’s a neat little detail. That’s why we did the hidden drawer (below) on the dresser, that kind of care and attention makes a piece special.”

Question Objects is taking a somewhat unorthodox approach and completely skipping the trade fair circuit, which the designer notes costs $20,000 – $30,000 per show, expenses that have to be factored into the final retail price. As it is, the console in the lead pic retails for about $1,900, not a fortune but not inexpensive either (complete pricing here).

Even the drawer pulls are made in Canada although Antoniuk concedes he could source them in China for one-tenth the price. “But it’s a philosophical issue,” he says. “I want it all to be made-in-Canada.”

One other thing to note about Question Objects is that the wood is all finished with a special oil/polymer and wax finish that allows the wood to breath thus preventing splitting and cracking. The finish is durable and easily repaired if scratched.

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A Shared Point of View

Tuesday, March 25, 2014 by Chris

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The colour scheme in my flat is unorthodox, I’m the first to admit it. So I was oddly delighted to see Share Design featuring the Estorage Tablei by Rich Brilliant Willing for IKEA’s PS Collection. It’s as if the piece was riffing on my own living room, the colours are nearly identical. I couldn’t put the Estorage Tablei in my space if I wanted to, it would be matchier than matchy.

Anyways, I’ve been wanting to mention Share Design on styleNorth for months. By some miracle of accident or marketing, the blog landed in my inbox one day and I never unsubscribed. I admire SD for several reasons — its consistency and the modern-but-not-boring taste of its editors are to be commended. I also admire how Share Design has managed to monetize its slick style. Advertising is built into the content (not always, of course), it is obvious but it feels integral, like SD endorses products its editors love anyways.

Share Design is founded by Melbourne based designer Shareen Joel. The website is a sexy beast — you should sign up.

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Buyers Beware on CBC’s Four Rooms

Friday, March 14, 2014 by Chris


On Monday I took some time out to visit Toronto’s 507 Antiques where CBC TV had assembled three of the four stars of Four Rooms for a little press junket. The show is a hybrid of Dragon’s Den and Antiques Roadshow in which hopeful sellers meet privately with four dealers seeking offers for their items. The catch is that they must take what they think is the best offer on the spot, once they leave a dealer’s room and move on to the next buyer, there’s no turning back, the previous offer is dead.

Having never seen the show, I agreed to the interviews because I figured that if antiques were the focus then it was a good fit for styleNorth. However, having now seen Four Rooms, I see that antiques play a very small role in the overall scheme of things. The producers seem to be picking sellers with interesting historical memorabilia and grossly over-inflated expectations, like the Alberta excavator who wanted $6 million for his unauthenticated copy of the American Declaration of Independence, found in an old grain elevator.

But if Four Rooms isn’t really about antiques and décor, the dealers doing the buying know plenty about the racket in which they trade. And that’s what yours truly and a handful of other online and print writers wanted to know about when we faced off with the stars amid the glittering, woody aisles of 507.


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Wake Up Your Creativity with Karen

Monday, February 17, 2014 by Chris


At the Interior Design Show last month I caught up with my friend, the supremely talented Karen Johnston (Mosaicworks). She’ll be in Toronto this coming weekend to give a mosaic workshop at Artscape Youngplace (180 Shaw Street, Rm 107). The class runs Saturday (10 – 3:30 pm) and Sunday (10 –  12 pm) for $130 (cost includes supplies and use of tools but not lunch, there’s a great little cafe on site). So if you’ve been itching to get crafty this is a great opportunity to wake up your creativity. Karen employs anything and everything in her work from common pencils to plumbers chain, glass and tile; surf through her website to get inspired.

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2014 Design Week in Toronto

Wednesday, January 22, 2014 by Chris


I happened to be on Queen Street West yesterday just as gallery owner Clint Roenisch was unveiling Dossier, a collection of objects and furniture from the 2014 graduating class of Furniture Craft & Design at Sheridan College. The show is part of this year’s Toronto Design Offsite Festival, which runs tandem to Canada’s biggest design fair, IDS 14, opening tomorrow night with the annual gala party then running Saturday and Sunday at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre ($22). Yes, it’s cold outside — it’s January in the Great White North, after all — but that’s no excuse to miss the biggest week on this city’s design calendar.

As for Dossier I was very impressed by Kevin Jones’s Daily Rush bar chair (below left) and by Cristyan Leathley’s Core Lamp. It’s a good show with lots of promising young talent. And be sure not to miss the Gladstone Hotel‘s always excellent Come Up To My Room, featuring 25 installations by 40 artists. Get out and see what’s hot, what’s new, what’s next.

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