Heather Daam and Daniel Rossi’s story is illustrated in a weave. A handwoven textile, by friend and artist Hannah Waldron, documents their relationship, from big moves – the couple met at the University of Alberta, but Daam did her graduate studies in Holland, where Rossi joined her – to small moments, such as eating cherries by a canal. “I’m the orange thread and Daniel’s the blue thread,” says Daam of the meandering paths, which make their way back, eventually to Toronto, where they now live. The weave was incorporated into their 2017 wedding ceremony; they wound their joined hands with it when saying their vows.
The move back to Canada after years studying and working in Europe was natural and auspiciously timed for Daam, who’s a designer, and Rossi, an artist and designer. “After a while you feel distant if you don’t speak the language,” Daam says. “You don’t hear conversations on the bus.” Rossi, who was finishing a master’s degree in Stockholm, knew Daam wanted a change and encouraged her to open herself up to opportunity, without worrying about where they’d end up. “Literally, after that conversation she was like, ‘I got a job in Toronto.’”
“I never even set foot in Leslieville,” Daam says of the east Toronto neighbourhood they decided to buy into, via a Facetime call with their realtor across multiple time zones. Rossi had no real experience in the city at all. “I think the scariest thing was that we committed to buying and I had no idea what Toronto was like. I was basing it on Heather’s one-year experience living there,” he says, as well as some sage advice Daam received about the essential difference between Toronto’s west and east ends. “People in the west are young couples with their dogs – and then they get a stroller and move east,” Daam says, laughing. “And I was like, well maybe we’ll skip ahead. We’ll just go to the place where we’ll end up.”
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Turns out the light-filled condo, shared with their year-old Schnauzer, Zola, was the right move. The open living space is hugged by a spacious balcony, where the couple grow bounteous fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes, eggplant, lettuce, peppers, figs, lemons, blueberries, grapes, as well as some “flowers for the bees,” Daam says. The interior shows off their dual green thumbs as well, with plants collected over the years or propagated themselves (a happy cactus is the result of an offcut of an offcut, from her mother’s cactus, which came originally from Daam’s grandmother, or “Oma" in Dutch). Favourite local plant shops include Dynasty and Crown Flora Studio, and many of their planters are from there or hail vintage.
“A lot of people love our place because of all the trinkets,” Daam says. But each piece, like the plants, has purpose and meaning. A two-headed, cacti-topped sculpture, which Daam interprets as her and Rossi coming together in their new home, is by Joakim Ojanen. Another figurine with accompanying sketch of a Taiwanese potter is by Scottish artist and former classmate Grace Wilson (“She finds a really nice way of showing the beauty of imperfections in people,” Rossi says). Various prints and paintings are by friends and colleagues Tobias Gutmann, Bjarke Stenbæk Kristensen, Maev Lenaghan, Rossi’s uncle and Rossi himself. A family of wooden dolls, by Alexander Girard from Vitra, were anniversary gifts, and a conically capped clown, from Studio Pazo in Toronto, a wedding gift from a friend who shares their love of beautifully made, sentimental things.
“Especially having been so nomadic and met so many amazing people on the way, to have some sort of representation of them in your life helps keep the connection,” Rossi says, explaining their collection of objects. “So, every time you look at it you’re reminded of them – because everyone’s so far away.”
Get the Look
Grow shelving unit (narrow bookcase with wide extension), $1,102 at EQ3 (eq3.com).
To Houshi Onsen limited-edition weaving, £320 by Hannah Waldron (hannahwaldron.co.uk).
Girard wooden dolls, $240 (each) at Design Within Reach (dwr.com).
VIDEBAK rug flatwoven, $199 at IKEA (ikea.com).
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Gunnar Florning Clown for Lucie Kaas, $51.95 at Studio Pazo (studiopazo.ca).
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