High-style bowls and spoons, tables and benches by Canadian designers
The Toytoy bookcase looks trendy (read: cha-ching) with its colourful nature motif, but costs less than a family dinner at McDonald’s (especially important for Montreal designers Salomé Strappazzon and Mikaël Mourgu, who have young twins and know how expensive parenthood can be). The secret is the material – it’s all cardboard, which has its benefits. The bookcase is recyclable and eco-friendly (thanks especially to the use of non-toxic, water-based dyes), and is made with a heavy gauge cardboard that can withstand the wriggling, jiggling, jumping joy that often comes with little ones. Assembly required. Approximately $20, 39-1/2 x 16-inch. Available through Rona.
There is a surreal quality to the work of Edmonton’s Loyal Loot. The collective has made coat hooks that look like shirt collars and a table reminiscent of a cupcake. Its newest design, the quizzical Walnut Bowl, follows in the same uncanny tradition. The bowl contrasts the natural aesthetic of grained hardwood – simply finished with mineral oil and beeswax – with an unearthly, vibrantly hued centre. The piece can be used to display fruit, candies or ornaments, but given the level of craftsmanship it’s as beautiful empty as it is full. 12-by-2-inches. $325. Available through On Our Table, 33 Rayborn Cres., St. Albert, Alta., 780-460-0109, onourtable.ca.
Designer Sabina Hill grew up admiring the colours, textures and symbolism of aboriginal art. She also has a deep respect for modern design, having worked as an architect before launching her eponymous furniture line in Vancouver 12 years ago. Her Harvest 10 Table reflects these contrasting influences. The lines are sleek thanks to hard-edged materials like tempered glass and anodized aluminum, yet the top features stylized images of bears, ravens and fish, laser-cut into brass. The most poetic touch, though, is the use of two tanned salmon hides that run down the centre of the table. Price upon request. 10-foot length, 44-inch width, 29.5-inch height. Through switzercultcreative.com.
In 2010, Lachlan Bell graduated from the Netherlands’ renowned (and notoriously competitive) Design Academy Eindhoven. After the Canmore, Alta., native moved home, he started making things for the sheer joy of it. His resulting spoon set – made from purpleheart, a luxurious tropical wood – is a collection of charmingly idiosyncratic scoops that wouldn’t look out of place in a Dr. Seuss tale. The smallest could be a measure for salt and sugar, the largest for doling out rice or mashed potatoes. But whether they are used or displayed above the stove like kitchen art, one thing is clear: They are really cool to look at. $425. Through DaDe Art & Design Lab, 1327 9th Ave. S.E., Calgary, 403-454-0243.
After graduating from Sheridan College’s furniture design program this year, Tomas Rojcik has been living and working in Toronto’s slowly gentrifying Junction neighbourhood. But the rugged beauty of northern Ontario, where his family camped when he was growing up, is what captivates his imagination. His first major production piece, Pendant 45, is minimal and modern, yet reflects the outdoor summertime ritual of campfires. The ash wood casings have been sandblasted and painted black to look like charred kindling, while the glowing LED light strips evoke smouldering embers. From $1,850. Through Caviar20.com.Ivy Lin
Tufting brings to mind Victorian-era smoking chairs, perhaps, or dainty Rococo settees. But Partisans – an irreverent, Toronto-based architecture and industrial design studio – is trying to upend our sense of nostalgia with its new Tuftit bench. The seat is made with either plastic, concrete or wood (not sewn in fabric), and was designed using computer-generated algorithms and an automated routing machine. The effect is particularly mesmerizing when done with a solid slab of walnut – the fluid, marble-like grain contrasting with the precision-cut tufts. From $800. Through Klaus, 300 King St. E., Toronto, 416-362-3434.
It can take a long time for trendy tech to reach the remote Canadian north. The iPhone, for example, came to Nunavut in 2008, a year after the rest of the country (which, in cellphone years, is an eternity). But when the latest gadget arrives, it gets a uniquely northern welcome from designer Sherlyn Kadjuk. At her Arviat, Nunavut-based studio, Kiluk, she hand-makes laptop bags, iPad cases and smartphone covers out of sealskin. The silvery totes are sleek and sophisticated, but the fur adds the kind of warmth and coziness that could only come from one of the coldest regions on Earth — the shores of Hudson Bay. From $37.50. Through ivalu.ca