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Archive for July, 2010

Mirko Zardini, Director of the Canadian Centre for Architecture, takes a retrospective look at the Oil Crisis of the 70’s to shed light on our present day oil difficulties.

It’s fascinating to see how we dealt with it back then.  I was very young but I do remember having to where extra sweaters around the house because we weren’t allowed to raise the thermostat.  Most interesting were the board games that were produced – “Oil War” , “Energy Crisis”.

I found it fascinating to learn that alternative energy sources were being invented as early as the 1930’s.

Grab a tea and take the time to listen to what Mirko Zardini has to say about this topic.

Wishing  you a wonderful weekend!

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I’m so excited to be introducing this new store!  Not just because it’s a very cool store but also because John Baker and Juli Daoust get it.

They get how necessary it is to bring good design to this city and they have a direct line to the target audience that wants and understands it because they are their audience.

John Baker – co-owner

John and Juli’s passion for clean, simple, functional design grew out of their many visits to Scandinavia and Japan. Mjolk (pronounced mi-yelk) opened just 7 months ago, when they commissioned Studio Junction to design the retail space. Simply gorgeous! And although John and Juli feel they are still in the growing stages, I beg to differ. They carry a complete and full product mix ranging from tableware, kitchen accessories, furniture, carpets, lighting and even a great selection of children’s toys and accessories. See for yourself:

My faves:

Stand Umbrella (very clever) – SIWA Tote and Brief Case

Crow Bottle Opener, Shoe Horn

Eden coat rack, magnet board and magazine rack

Combitoy: Theodore transforms into 4 toys.

What makes Mjolk truly unique is the fact that John and Juli have handpicked theses designers and brought them to our market.  You will not find them anywhere else in Canada.  And they want their customers to have the same unique connection.  They are planning a series of Q & A seminars with the designers in the near future.  So get on their mailing list!

Visit them in the Junction on Dundas St. just west of Keele St. at 2959 Dundas St. W.  See the map here.

Cheers!

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Julie Jenkinson represents what the Toronto design culture is all about: experienced, well travelled, street savvy, and brilliantly talented.

Born in the U.K, Julie considers herself a late bloomer as an artist.  Primarily because she spent most of her life travelling around the world and immersing herself in the art culture in New York, where she lived for many years.  It’s said that all good things come in time.  And last year, Julie launched her “Animaze” line of fabrics and wallpaper.

Besides travel in foreign lands, Julie’s inspiration comes from nature and animals in particular.  And it’s obvious with the “zoomorphic” images in this collection.  To say that they are quirky would be appropriate, but there is also a sophistication in the way she repeats these images.  Look closer and her animals look oddly familiar, don’t they?  I think we have the same kind of dreams…

And just released are her photo documentary images of street art in Berlin.  I’m a bit of collector of graffiti and these are simply amazing; a bit tongue in cheek and very colourful!  These are so popular; one that I was eyeing during this interview got sold before I could say “How much”!  They are very reasonably priced, by the way!

Inspired by the clean lines of mid-century modern, Julie is now designing and producing furniture as well.  Check out this great bench.

Julie has produced a graphic book, clothing, prints, cards, now fabric, wallpaper and furniture. What could possibly be next you ask?  Much much more. Stay tuned.

Check out the full line of products Julie has here. And get the full experience by going down to INabstracto.  I have dibs on the “Sam Gang”!

Cheers!

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While hunting for the perfect rug, I came across nanimarquina.

Nani Marquina attended Massana School, Barcelona to study industrial design. In 1974 after a collaboration with the Selles-Marquina Architecture Studio, she opened her own shop, Self – Décor. In 1984, she presented her first design in prints and rugs for different textile companies and received her first nomination at the Delta Awards for industrial design.  Creating the nanimarquina brand in 1987, she launched her company specializing in design and textile articles for the home, with particular focus on rugs.

Since those early years the nanimarquina brand has won numerous awards for their designs and business excellence.  They are a company that has built a world-class rug design company spanning 5 continents and has at the same time maintained a production quality of a boutique custom rug manufacturer.  This shows in the excellent quality of the rugs.

One that stood out for me as truly unique is the Flying Carpet.  A perfect rug for my sons, who no matter how comfortable the furniture, insist on laying down on the floor.  And with this rug, I would be OK with it!

Check here to see more beautiful carpets, home products and a store near you!

Cheers!

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Landscape paintings are probably my most favourite type of art.  Primarily because the subject matter doesn’t insist on an emotional direction or restrict your thoughts as does a still life or portrait can.   When looking at a landscape you can become engulfed by it’s setting and almost see yourself in the environment and feel the wind or smell the foliage.  Well that’s what happens to me anyway.

So I was pleased to discover DianaMenzie’s work at the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition this year.   Diana has taken her visual experiences of seeing nature while driving in a car and beautifully transferring these experiences onto canvas.

Who hasn’t done a bit of daydreaming while on a road trip and experienced the blur of the landscape? I do that a bit too often actually.

Here are some of her pieces:

To see more of Diana’s work and where she is exhibiting next click here.

Cheers!

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The future is here folks!

Now this is what I’m talking about. A house that attends to all of your needs from the touch of your iphone. My dream come true.

To be honest, I’ve seen versions of tech homes at various home shows over the years, but as with all new concepts, it takes a few years to finally get it right.  And Lumenhaus has arrived.

Lumenhaus is Virginia Tech’s 2010 entry to the Solar Decathlon Europe competition. Inspired by the Farnsworth House by Mies Van Der Rohe, where the north and south side are all glass. But Lumenhaus goes further and is a zero-energy home that is completely powered by the sun.

Lumenhaus is responsive architecture – it responds to the exterior environment and reacts accordingly for the needs of the inhabitants.

Essentially, all energy that the house needs will come solely from the photovoltaic panels that cover the roof. This energy is controlled and any excess of power can be sold back to the power company. This system is known as net metering. This I like!

Also, there will be no need for electric light from sunrise to sunset because of the vast glass wall system. Eclipsis System is an advanced building façade that comprises of 2 layers – a metal shutter shade and a translucent insulating panel that move to the position you need them to. Essentially it filters out direct sunlight and allows the owner to benefit from indirect natural lighting thereby producing immense health benefits. Then the energy collected powers light panels for the evening that can be colour controlled by the owner to optimize mood. Yes, colour!

It’s other sustainable features include passive energy systems; radiant heating and building materials that are from renewable and/or recyclable sources.

The house awakes when you awake and shuts down and hibernates when you leave. All of these systems can be programmed and controlled by your iphone.

Remember the first time you went into an airplane bathroom and had to open up all the compartments and marveled at the efficient labeling and space useage?  Well check out the interior of a Lumenhaus. So exciting!

Finally sci-fi has become reality.  I need one of these homes!

I’ve already inquired and they aren’t at the marketing stage yet. So unless I win that lottery tonight, I won’t be getting one of these too soon. But I can dream can’t I?

Now where are those flying cars, people?

Wishing you big dreams this weekend!

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Flower Power – Basil

In May, I wrote about growing your own herb garden or planter, and since then a few months has passed.  I thought that I would give you a few useful tips about one particular herb, which seems to be everyone’s favorite. Basil.

Out of all of my herbs, basil always seems to grow in abundance. So I thought you might like a few simple recipes. Homemade pesto seems to stretch your basil the furthest, although it is always lovely to freshly chop the basil and sprinkle it on top of a dish.

It’s not just great on pasta, here are more ways to punch up your dinner.

Roasted Fish: Spread pesto over fillets of halibut, salmon or trout. Roast on baking sheet in centre of preheated 400f oven until a knife tip inserted into the thickest part of the fish and held for 10 seconds comes out warm, 10 to 15 minutes.

Feta Spread: Whirl 200g of feta with ¼ cup of pesto in a food processor. Use as sandwich spread. Or for an easy appetizer, spread over baguette slices and bake on a baking sheet in the centre of preheated 400F oven until spread is warm and bread is toasted. 4 to 6 minutes. Top with prosciutto, sliced tomatoes or spicy shrimp.

Recipe for Pesto

4 cups basil leaves, packed

½ cup cheese grated, parmesan or romano

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup toasted pine nuts or almonds

3 med garlic cloves, minced

2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Drop 3 garlic cloves through the spout of a food processor or blender while it’s running. Then add basil, pine nuts, cheese, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Pulse until finely chopped. With motor still running, gradually add oil stopping to scrape down the sides with spatula, until everything is well blended, and a good consistency.

I usually put a couple of heaping tablespoons into individual small sandwich bags, then into a larger freezer bag so that when I want pesto I can just pull out one small bag at a time. This will do well in your freezer for up to three months.  Around August, September you can usually buy very large bunches from small grocery stores along Queen Street East, which would make a huge container of pesto to freeze for the winter.

If you are thinking of bringing your herbs inside at the end of the summer, remember they have to be placed on a sunny windowsill.  And try not to over-water, as the drainage will be different from sitting outside on your deck or garden. Bring them inside before there is any sign of frost and give them time to acclimatize to indoors conditions.

Enjoy the pesto made from your very own garden, just be a little adventurous and you’ll be surprised what dishes you can come up with.

Nicola Bishop

bishop4086@rogers.com

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