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While Black Friday kicks off holiday shopping south of the border, I prefer to get my Christmas cheer in gear at Toronto's One of a Kind Show. Running from November 22nd to December 2nd at the Direct Energy Centre in Exhibition Place, it's a great place to find unique gifts, affordable art, stationery and jewelry (Biko is my go-to). Plus, you can fuel up on yummy samples from the food booths as you shop and meet the artisans who make each piece, which always make a purchase more personal.

Yesterday, H&H editors Morgan Michener, Margot Austin and I walked the aisles looking for finds. Here are a few of our favourites:

1. Maple syrup jugs by Marianne Chénard

Morgan: Oooh, I love these!

Margot: The peachy colour is gorgeous.

Me: The snowshoes in icy blue really say snow day — time for a pancake breakfast.

Morgan: It's the perfect cottage or friends-of-your-parents gift.

Me: They're so wonderfully Canadian. I want to gift one to myself.

Tip: Chénard also sells the jugs pre-packaged with a tin of maple syrup.

2. Limited-edition prints by Ja Teuber of Ilee

Me: This whale print is adorable. It would look super cute in a kid's room.

Margot: I like the ones without any writing on them. This Bambi print is pretty dreamy.

Me: You can't really go wrong for $18.

Morgan: The cards are nice, too. Oh, I need to buy a birthday card! (She bought one.)

3. Ceramic tableware by Melanie Mena of Mena Dragonfly

Morgan: These blue rimmed pieces are lovely.

Me: The little honey pots are such a sweet scale. They make me think of Winnie the Pooh. I bet my dad would fill them with mustard. It's his secret ingredient. (Mena had a sign beside them saying: It's cute & it's useful, what would you put inside?)

Margot: I like the sugar and creamer set for teatime. (Margot signed up to win a mug!)

4. Charcoal drawings by Laurie Sponagle

Margot: This is my favourite thing I've seen so far.

Morgan: I like the large clouds and the landscape with grasses. Up close it looks almost three-dimensional.

Margot: I just love how simple they are.

Tip: Laurie is only at the show for the first five days.

5. Concrete accessories by Nicole Mireault and Tommy Ferfuson of FMC Design

Me: I like the architectural look of these pieces.

Margot: The white bowls are stunning.

Morgan: The trays are also great.

6. Paintings by Sarah Hillock

Me: Holy cow, these are amazing. (I'm the only one giggling.)

Morgan: I wish I had a wall for one of these. The little brown guy is fantastic.

Me: The blue, black and white one would look great in my bedroom. How would you frame these? You'd want to see the paint dripping off the bottom of the Mylar.

Morgan: You'd need to float it in a giant frame.

Me: Yes, so you could see all the edges. Hmm... maybe it would be weird to wake up with him staring at me.

7. Ornaments and objects by Grace Eunmi Lee

Me: I always make sure to check out the Rising Stars section. You never know what you're going to find.

Morgan: Look at these wacky creatures.

Me: They're so weird... and wonderful.

Margot: It's like she's constructed a whole fantasy world.

Morgan: The artichoke salt and pepper shakers are nice, too.

Me: They remind me of some of Takashi Murakami's crazy creations. (Grace told me she's often inspired by plant life.)

Remember, the show is only on until December 2nd, so if you're in the Toronto area, be sure to squeeze it in — it's an easy way to tackle Christmas shopping in one day. Plus, the H&H booth in row R is selling back issues of the magazine for $2 each, or three for $5.

Photo credits:
1-15. Kimberley Brown


Kimberley Brown

The Design Exchange, Canada's iconic design museum, unveiled a fresh new look last Friday at their relaunch gala, the DX Intersection. It was an ambitious jump-start to what promises to be a programmed-packed year for the museum, which seeks to establish itself as a cornerstone in the Canadian design community.

Even the most discerning partygoer was sure to be impressed by the event. The DX team pulled out all the stops with an Ikea sponsored silent auction, performance art, fanciful food, hip music and an amusement park-style raffle where popped balloons would reveal a bevy of prizes. Attendees were encouraged to explore all three levels of Toronto's original stock exchange, where an unpredictable experience was planned at every turn.

On the original trading floor, guests were greeted with a larger-than-life installation entitled Black Friday by multimedia artist Niall McClelland and Toronto-based artist and musician Alex Durlak. The creative duo filled the vast space with thousands of graphic newspapers, broadsheet murals, projections and suspended trellises adorned with illuminated papers. The installation served as a striking canopy over top a sea of guests who danced, drank and hobnobbed throughout the space.

In both scale and pattern, McClelland and Durlak found inspiration from both our current economics and the efforts of Charles Comfort, the artist who crafted the building's iconic frieze.

Back at ground level, Ikea presented Auktion, their collaboration with 20 designers who were given a $500 budget to recreate and deconstruct Ikea products into their own unique creations. The challenge was a nod to the popular blog, Ikea Hackers.

H&H's own Mark Challen and Suzanne Dimma designed The Game Changer, a sleek and contemporary take on the classic ping-pong table. The challenge: "To design a piece that would make a bold, contemporary statement and be as playful as the game itself." Their mod table was outfitted with two Ikea Docksta table bases and a custom high-gloss playing surface, an undeniably stylish piece.

Davide Tonizzo covertly re-tooled classic Ikea untreated pine boards into the famous Tony Manero Saturday Night Fever pose for his piece called You Can Dance. Inspired by Swedish design, Tonizzo's ode to ABBA and the glorious days of disco are front and centre in his playful piece. The designer showcases quintessential Ikea design by using "clever modular furniture with minimal, geometric but ridged forms."

Toronto-based fashion designer Philip Sparks found inspiration in an act that strikes fear into many a man — tying a bow tie. Philip captured this universal anxiety by bringing together 50 Ikea cord sets and bulbs into one large bow tie knot entitled, How to Tie a Bow Tie. The outcome is an incredibly dramatic tangle of light.

Knob Portrait: Mayor Ford by Paul Raff Studio brought in the highest bid at the auction for $3,000. Inspired by Andy Warhol's celebrity portraits, the piece was made up of 983 Ikea cabinet doorknobs, placing Toronto's mayor in the limelight once again.

Advertising agency spinoff Sid Lee Collective took inspiration from within. Their piece entitled Spela ("play" in Swedish) was an homage to the agency's collaborative approach to creativity. Their interactive installation incorporated music and miniature orbs of recognizable characters (including Kanye West and Lady Gaga) that lit up and played music as you moved them around the table.

Toronto's Mason Studio acknowledged the elephant in the room. The inventive group worked with a familiar Ikea property, repurposing the classic Frakta blue carryall into an adorable piece entitled, what else, Elephant in the Room.

These are only a handful of my favourite pieces from the Ikea Auktion. A number of the other playful designs can be found here with full descriptions from the designers.

DX Intersection brought design to life with an evening full of imagination and unexpected surprises. An impressive starting point to the DX's relaunch, the night offered a peek into the future of DX's offerings. If the gala was any indication, the new direction will be forward-thinking, contemporary and full of new energy. I, for one, am excited to see where they take it.

Photo credits:
1-9. Joel Hunking


Joel Hunking

On Thursday, event planner Colin Cowie hosted a holiday party sponsored by Proctor & Gamble at Toronto's Thompson Hotel. Cowie filled a dreamy suite with sparkle and charmed us all with his South African accent and approachable personality. Having organized events for celebrities like Tom Cruise and Oprah Winfrey, he brings grand style to events with every detail covered. Colin's site says, "What you smell, touch, taste, feel and hear are carefully orchestrated to create the ultimate experience for Colin's clients." And that's exactly what he did for the event. Take a look at photos from the party and try some of his ideas when entertaining for an event that appeals to your guests' senses.


Fragrances Use unscented candles in the dining room and anywhere people are eating, and welcome guests with subtle scents in the entryway and living room.


Fresh Flowers Poor carnations have such a bad rep, but en masse in a solid colour they look stunning. (Am I the only one who likes to touch flowers that look so soft?) Create a piece like this with dome-shaped floral foam placed atop a vase. Stick an ornament or decoration inside for a festive touch. Don't stop at the tables — consider placing fresh flowers in your Christmas tree, too, for a consistent theme.

Soft Fabrics Lush upholstery, soft pillows and throws give the ultimate cosy feel. (Hello, winter decorating 101!)

Clean Surfaces Cowie focused on using P&G brands like Swiffer, Mr. Clean, Cascade, Dawn and more for all his holiday entertaining supplies — ensuring every surface was dusted, scrubbed and wiped before guests arrived for a polished look and squeaky-clean feel. And yes, he really did display dishwashing supplies in the kitchen. Great to have it on-hand as soon as you have a full load, or tucked away nearby.


Food Decorating for the season takes time — consider buying appetizers, baked goods and even pre-cut veggies to save time. Display snacks creatively on tiered trays and in glasses. This is a great time to use all those dishes you have locked away in your sideboard or hutch and buffet.

Drinks Have a delicious cocktail ready for guests once they're settled in to the house. For ease, stick to one signature drink and keep the recipe simple! Create a buffet table or food station equipped with plates, napkins and utensils so everyone can help themselves. Notice the lack of obstacles (like chairs) around this table — easy access and room for mingling is crucial.


Theme Keep your holiday decor consistent from room-to-room for a seamless transition. Colin focused on golds and silvers, right on-trend with the mixed metals look. "It doesn't tell a story," says Colin of homes where decor is mismatched throughout. He kept surfaces clutter-free as he says "Great style comes from ruthless editing."

Lighting Install a dimmer switch and light candles — it's flattering and creates the perfect ambience. (Honestly — we attended this event at 1:30 p.m. but it felt like 7 p.m. thanks to perfect lighting.) Cowie filled the space with candles — votives, pillars, tapers, you name it. To customize store-bought candles, he gave glass holders a gold leaf treatment. Crafty!

Sparkle Lay mirror tiles on a tablescape and top with votives and sparkling objects like bead garlands and ornaments. You can find mirror tiles at your local hardware store. Glittery pillow covers brought out for the season added extra glam to the living room, too.


Party Playlist Prevent holiday music fatigue and mix merry jingles between your usual tunes — create a playlist with 80% dedicated to your favourite songs and 20% to holiday hits.  (There's only so many times I can listen to anyone crooning "Santa Baby.")

Hope these entertaining tips help you at your next soirée. Thanks for sharing your ideas with us, Colin! Here's to happy hosting.

Photo credits:
Seema Persaud


Seema Persaud

Canada's favourite design museum, The Design Exchange, is gearing up for the DX Intersection this Friday, November 16. Top designers, architects, chefs, filmmakers and artists will take over three floors of the iconic DX building — the home of Toronto's original Stock Exchange — for an all-night fundraiser that will bring Canada's design communities together.

Spearheaded by newly appointed Design Exchange president, Shauna Levy (former VP and Co-founder of the Interior Design Show), the event is a bold step in the new direction that the DX will take during its re-launch this year. Levy says the new approach is focussed on both small nuanced design, as well as larger cultural movements. "Design is in all factions of life, and our goal is to produce programming that reflects this belief…DX Intersection is a culmination of how design exists in all that we do," said Levy.

I for one am very excited to see what Levy and her team have planned for the DX in the coming months. This event, I'm sure, will be a hugely successful kick-start to the next chapter of the DX.

Canadian novelist, artist and designer Douglas Coupland will be honoured as the first recipient of DX Intersection's new annual Gamechanger award. The award celebrates an internationally acclaimed designer who demonstrates the ability to move flawlessly between creative disciplines.

Below are two examples of Coupland's work:

Museum of the Rapture, 2012

Group Portrait In Circles, from original 1957 photograph by Peter Croydon

Ikea will present Auktion, featuring 20 never-before-seen items created by a variety of designers, including H&H's own Suzanne Dimma and Mark Challen, fashion designer Philip Sparks and creative advertising agency Sid Lee. With a $500 budget from Ikea, these design mavens will deconstruct, retool and hack their own custom creations. I can't wait to see the results.  

The event will include pop-up food stations, music from an assortment of DJs, a design-inspired amusement park-style raffle, and art installations in every corner of the building. The event promises to be a truly interactive experience for the design enthusiast. 

Proceeds from the fundraiser will go to DX's youth education programs, as well as to the Canadian design preservation initiative. Click here for further details and to buy tickets.

I’ll be there with a few fellow House & Home colleagues, so please come over and say hello. Watch out for my follow-up post on what should be an exciting night for Canadian design.

Photo credits:
1. Design Exchange
2-3. Canadian Art


Joel Hunking

The holiday season is almost upon us! One of my favourite parts about this time of year is that everyone gets a little more generous and takes the time to indulge those they love. Get in the charitable mood early by taking part in these design initiatives for a good cause.

EQ3 has teamed up with the Michaëlle Jean Foundation to create the Generation Art Challenge, which allows Canadian youth to raise awareness about social issues through art.

Youth age 15 to 30 were invited to submit original artwork depicting their dreams and aspirations for our country, inspired by the theme: Imagine…A better community. The drawings and paintings of the nine winners were made into a limited-edition line of home decor accessories for EQ3, including graphic notebooks, postcards, ottomans and pillows.

One of these colourful notebooks is on my wish list!

Full proceeds of the project will benefit FMJF youth initiatives. The Generation Art winners will receive mentorship, networking and workshop opportunities with EQ3 design professionals. The unique line is available in stores and online at EQ3 now.

Urban Barn is also getting into the holiday spirit this month with their charitable campaign, Blanket the Country in Warmth. With every $5 donation made, the retailer will donate a brand-new Urban Barn fleece blanket to a local homeless shelter.

While you're out shopping for everyone else on your list this Christmas, give a little extra and keep those most in need warm through the winter. To participate visit any of Urban Barn's 41 locations across the country.

Loblaw's Everyday Essentials line has partnered with Habitat for Humanity Canada for the second year to create an exclusive charitable item. This year they've produced a beautiful woven throw in a soft cream hue.

The blanket retails for $19, with net proceeds from each sale benefitting the charity. Get cosy and help a good cause!

Photo credits:
1-3. EQ3
4. Urban Barn
5. Loblaw


Chloe Berge

With the start of November comes flu season, and endless reminders to get your flu shot. Beyond the shot, there are steps you can take to ensure you and your family have a healthier home. (This blog post is sponsored by Swordfish UVC Air Treatment System.)

Indoor air can be up to five times more polluted than outdoor air. Most indoor air quality products trap pollutants, but the easy-to-install Swordfish® UV Air Purifiers kill unseen airborne viruses, bacteria, mold and dust mites. Used in hospitals, UVC technology uses ultraviolet light to clean the air your family breathes and can help prevent the spread of colds and flu.

Simply mount Swordfish Whole Home inside your duct system or above the air conditioning coil. Installation takes about 15 minutes and all required tools are included. Bonus: it’s energy efficient and chemical free.

For condo and apartment dwellers, the Swordfish Portable system is available, too. It also alleviates allergy, asthma and cold and flu symptoms.

Elsewhere in your home, consider using eco-friendly products to prevent the spread of germs. Method carries all-purpose cleaning and disinfecting wipes (great for doorknobs, keyboards and just about any hard surface), and an actibacterial kitchen cleaner spray that also works on influenza A among other germs.

Beyond keeping your counter germ-free, green products are worth considering for other cleaning tasks. Canadian-made Nature Clean products provide toxin-free solutions for everyday household tasks — from dish care, laundry and more — and are biodegradable, too.

Ready to make your home healthier? Visit for great discounts during Cold & Flu Awareness Month.

Photo credits:
1, 2. Swordfish
3, 4. Grassroots Environmental Products


Seema Persaud

Have you ever wondered how the home of your favourite designer is decorated? You may not be invited over for dinner anytime soon, but you can get a glimpse of their personal style at reDesign 2012.

The Textile Museum of Canada’s signature fundraising event and gala challenges fourty leading Canadian designers, artists and architects to put their own twist on identical Eames-style chairs. Provided by MORBA, the chairs will be sold at this year’s silent auction.

I love Jeremy Laing's black velvet version.

Stephanie Fortin of Coeur De Lion Textiles re-imagined the Eames chair with a vibrant blue digital print.

Hariri Pontarini Architects used raw wood for a sculptural, organic look.

Come join other design enthusiasts at the event next Wednesday, November 7, at the Shops of Hazelton Lanes in Yorkville. The evening will celebrate Canadian creativity and ingenuity in a fun, party atmosphere. Tickets are $100 and include gourmet food catered by Michael Tong, premium wine and beer, and the opportunity to bid on one of the original designs. All proceeds support TMC’s programs and collections.

See a free preview of the designs on display now until November 6 at Bonhams in Yorkville.


Chloe Berge

The Fornasetti look is a bit like cilantro: people either love it or they hate it. I fall into the love it category, as I have a soft spot for its playful sense of humour. Who can look at founder Piero Fornasetti’s serial drawing of opera singer Lina Cavalieri’s face – imagined as a hot air balloon or petulantly sticking her tongue out – and not smile?

Next year will mark the centennial of Piero Fornasetti’s birth. In a 1987 interview, he resolutely stated, “I refuse to determine the value of an object by its date.” So, maybe it’s a bit ironic to celebrate his designs simply because a few decades have passed. Instead, think of this post as a tribute to timelessness – and the charm of things a little quirky, if not downright odd.

Piero Fornasetti. In 1932, he was kicked out of the Brera Academy, where he was studying how to draw, for insubordination.

The archive of objects designed by Piero Fornasetti boasts more than 11,000 products. Every year, a few designs are selected to go back into limited production as a Re-edition. Above is his Leopardo (Leopard) chest of drawers, created in the 1950s.

At this year’s Salone del Mobile in Milan, the house of Fornasetti revealed this colourful reimagining of Leopardo, for which the big cat was replaced with Lina Cavalieri’s portrait.

“Design is what the Italians do naturally. Spontaneously. It is restraint, harmony, and balance. Not to exaggerate or overdo. To be careful and rigorous.” – Piero Fornasetti.

More contemporary takes on vintage Fornasetti designs.

Fornasetti “Pansee” wallpaper from Cole & Son.

Every year since 1968, Fornasetti designs a commemorative calendar plate. Only 700 are made and the early editions are now popping up at auctions. Piero’s son, Barnaba, has carried on the tradition since 1989. The 2013 plate will be revealed on November 10th.

Photo credits:
1. Fornasetti.
2. Italian Fashion Designer.
3-13. Fornasetti.
4. Courtsey of Fornasetti.


Kimberley Brown

If you saw a run down old building in a dodgy neighbourhood at the height of a vicious recession would you think to yourself, "Perhaps I'll open a shop?"

That's what Washington, DC designer Darryl Carter thought when he laid eyes on this building on 9th St. NW. That was 2008. Just last week Darryl hosted a party to celebrate the completion of the reno and I hopped down to DC for the festivities. Here's a sneak peek.

This is the building in progress. Even in this mid-done state the place has an air of Darryl Carter austerity in its white cloak and handsome black-painted 6-over-6 windows – looking like they were there all along, but weren't.

It was well past dark by the time Mr. A. and I alighted from a cab directly from Dulles after an epic fog-delayed journey. So I hope you'll forgive the lighting of photos snapped on my iPhone in between the gulps of champagne (an antidote to travel stress, you understand). Greeting us at the front window was a handsome lion moved here from his previous post on the front lawn of Darryl's Embassy Row home.

Inside, the space is light and bright and white with vestiges of ruin to add soul. Exhibit A: this massive stone arch salvaged from a crumbling Maryland estate was moved to the site in pieces and reassembled with a steel reinforcement structure behind to hold it in place. Magnificent.

On each side of the entry hall are very pretty gothic bibliothèques. The doors and drawer fronts were salvaged from a butler's pantry at Dumbarton House, a Georgetown landmark, and the cabinetry was custom built around them. When the retail shop is stocked and open for business on Nov. 24 this area will be dedicated to the check out and wrapping of purchases, which I'm assured will be lovingly done in a very old-school manner.

Look up and you see a pair of Darryl's Gwenwood hanging fixtures made by Urban Electric and a glorious display of aged chunky wood beams.

The building is a warren of little rooms that will be arranged much like a home, including a dining area and kitchen. And like any home when there's a party, the action is in the kitchen. Thursday night's festivities were no different, with many of the guests gathering in the kitchen and adjacent bar in the dining area. In this space, sleek modern cabinets are offset by rugged wood shelving with steel supports.

Unfinished wide-plank floors throughout most of the building are milled from subfloor material reclaimed from an African embassy. The exposed brick wall shows its age beautifully, while simple white sconces and steel handrails were custom-designed by Darryl for the space.

The second floor rooms will be stocked with an ever-changing array of collections of pottery and decorative objects by local artisans accompanied by videos showing the process of design and creation of the goods. On party night the tabletops, made of soft clay, were strewn with old square nails and an invitation to sign. We did.

On the third floor, this little garret will become the home of luxurious bedding products, but on party night it was simply and ravishingly outfitted with this haunting oil portrait on an easel. Seeing this kind of made me want to rush home and pull down my ceiling. Kind of.

The site features an interior courtyard and a separate carriage house out back that will house Darryl's office and design studio staffers.

The upper carriage house office was dressed with an antique gateleg table and a massive concrete bowl on stand. Both are examples of the types of signature Darryl Carter pieces clients will be able to buy at the new shop.

One of the most exciting offerings to come at the shop will be a collection of 300 fabrics designed by Darryl. I didn't get a shot of the space where they will be displayed because it was pitch black and filled with a bunch of salsa-dancing revelers (not kidding) on party night. These fabrics I MUST see. Though I half-jokingly think, hmm, wonder how many shades of white linen there will be?

Of course you should book a flight to Washington after Nov. 24 to enjoy the fully merchandised experience, but in the mean time an easy buy-in to Darryl Carter's world is his latest book The Collected Home (Clarkson Potter, 2012). The book is an object of beauty and wisdom by Carter and his trusted collaborators, writer Trish Donnally, whom I met and chatted with and want to be, and photographer Gordon Beall, whose eye and camera lens see Darryl's work more intimately than any other shooter and who takes the best detail shot in the business. Worth every cent.

Photo credits:
1, 2. Prince of Perworth blog
3, 5-15. Margot Austin
4. Elle Decor, photography by Rebecca Greenfield

Toronto's first Monocle shop was launched by tastemaker and Canadian ex-pat Tyler Brûlé on October 18th. The wares in the College Street West shop reflect the lifestyle of readers (and radio fans, there is a broadcasting booth on-site) of Monocle, Tyler's mag of global affairs, and the follow-up to his wildly successful Wallpaper* Magazine. Expect to find everything that a discerning urbanite could want, including a mix of limited-edition collaboration stationery, candles and travel goods.

We're in heady company: the other Monocle shops are located in London, Osaka, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Zurich. The College Street store features the brand's distinctive black awning.

The Barena x Monocle travel jacket, accented by Drake's x Monocle silk pocket square, and Monocle tote, are typical of the travel items featured in the shop.

Monocle collaborates with brands such as Comme des Garçons (the inspiration for their Monocle Hinoki scented candle comes from soaking in an outdoor Kyoto tub, $85), embossed notebooks and cedar-scented Monocle x Matsuyama Sugi body soap. The Porter x Monocle series of Japanese-made bags (shown, Porter City Bag) are bestsellers.

A tray set by Fog Linen Works and leather luggage tag by Ettinger have a masculine, tailored appeal.

These Japanese Tabio socks are a personal pick by Tyler, $28. Other luxe knitwear includes French Flouzen cashmere knit ties and an Oyuna cashmere throw ($435) for keeping warm on transatlantic flights.

Tyler is a fan of maps, and there are several examples (some sourced from St. Lawrence Market antique stalls by his mother, artist Virge Brûlé) hung in sister design agency Winkreative spaces, located in back of the shop. This Toronto map is a one-off find, but you can buy Japanese illustrator Satoshi Hashimoto's world map, through the store.

Photo credits:
1. Photography by Lorne Bridgman for Monocle
2-6. Wendy Jacob


Wendy Jacob

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