Janine Morrison has a theory about the enduring appeal of mid-century modern, which is the subject of a delicious new book by Judith Miller called Mid Century Modern (reviewed in my Hot Home Product column in the New in Homes section of the Saturday Toronto Star).
As the owner of Tonic Living, which sells contemporary fabrics and custom-makes window treatments, pillows, and futon covers, Morrison was thrilled to come across a stash of vintage fabric when she started her business on E-Bay in 2000.
"It became so wildly popular around the world,” says Morrison, “but one sad day we came to the end of it.” At that point, Morrison began sourcing new fabrics that had the same aesthetic vibe. Since then, the biz has ground by leaps and bounds, and Morrison is in the process of opening a new, larger operation. Stay tuned for news on that.
Why was she so drawn to mid-century design? “It has a simplicity that is just so appealing. It references a simpler time but also an emergent time, where everything was exciting and modern. Whether we even remember the era from our own youth, we sense that it was a time of innovation and social shackles being released. There was such beauty in that,” she says. You can find out more about Tonic Living in the next issue of ReStyle, which appears quarterly with the Toronto Star. In the meantime, here’s a list of places in Toronto that offer mid-century décor.
Atomic Design 965 Queen St West 416.912.2358
Owner Lawrence Blairs loves Scandinavian art glass, modernist studio jewellery, abstract sculpture, and post modern Italian design. The store is also home to an extensive reference library on twentieth century design and decorative art.
Bungalow 273 Augusta Avenue 416.598.0204
Kensington was into mid-century modern a couple of decades before it gained widespread cool. It’s still home to the much-loved Bungalow where you’ll find vintage clothing, retro furniture, home and fashion accessories.
Design Within Reach 435 King St. West 416.977.4003
If you are falling in love with modern design, Design Within Reach is a shrine at which you must worship. Take note that “within reach" means things not found elsewhere and things in stock, not necessarily within reach of your puny décor budget. But even if you don’t have $5,700 for an Eames Lounge and Ottoman, go to this store if you want to see best in class. Worried about snooty salespeople who will sniff you out as a neophyte and treat you accordingly? Not an issue. The staff is terrific, love to share their knowledge and won’t blush even if you ask a dumb question. I speak from experience.
Ethel - 20th Century Living 327 Queen St. East 416.778.6608
Self-described as the spot where Mad Men meets your best friend’s basement, this Corktown store seems to be a fave the bloggers who responded when I asked for top spots in Toronto for mid-century modern.
EQ3 222 King Street East 416.815.2002 and 3-51 Hanna Avenue. 416.533.9090
This Winnipeg-based company specializes in modern design. On top of their own product range of furniture, which can be custom finished, they offer brands such as Herman Miller, Stelton, Vitra, and Alessi. Also has a great selection of Marimekko yard fabric and accessories at the Hanna Street location.Pssst. Check out the lovely and affordable glass and plate ware.
Machine Age Modern 1000 Queen St E 416.461.3588
For a sneak peak of the extensive offering, check out their inventory blog.
StyleGarage 938 Queen Street West 416.534.4343
StyleGarage offers made-to-order upholstery, storage, dining, and accents.
Did I miss any great spots that you love? I’m sure I did,so let me know and I’ll add them. Also heard (on Machine Age Modern's blog) that Modern Furniture in Canada 1920 to 1970 by Virginia Wright is a great overview of the era from a Canadian perspective. I’ve got my eye out for a copy and will add my own mini review when I find it.