Friday, October 2, 2009

Pierre Poussin

There are some pieces of furniture you never expect to think twice about because their function overrides their form. So, when you come across a line that looks like it’s inspired by Swiss cheese, you have to think twice about that notion.

With pieces that include tables, trays, benches and boxes, Pierre Poussin creates a series that melds a variety of elements in a harmonious fashion.

To quote the designer/artist, these pieces are based on “abstract interpretations of cellular division and molecular movement... Mitosis fuses art and science. These laser-cut [and powder-coated steel] pieces serve as studies of positive and negative space, as well as experimentations of light and shadow.”

And, most important, they’re beautiful to look at.

For more information, visit

Friday, September 4, 2009

Berczy Park

Nestled between Front and Wellington Streets and situated behind the Flatiron Building, Berczy Park is a respite for many passersby. With a large fountain being the focal point, it welcomes people to wet their hands in the water.

A series of benches around the fountain allows those to enjoy the splashing sounds drown out any bustling traffic in the area, while the trees offer enough shade to sit underneath them.

Located in the St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood, the neighbourhood is surrounded by buildings which don't graze the sky, making it feel cozier. Also, the area features restaurants, shopping and cultural institutions (i.e. two major theatres just steps away).

Berczy Park: an escape from the downtown while conveniently located in the middle of the city.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Bar One

It seems every restaurant in the city has a few pasta dishes on its menu, but very few of them can actually be considered authentically Italian. Nonna’s recipes have no say in most of these kitchens.

So, it comes as a surprise when there is a restaurant that produces its fare in an unpretentious way: Bar One. Located on Queen Street West, the laid back offerings seem to permeate through the air, the service and the overall environment of the establishment.

Putting the interior design to the side (clean and fresh as it is, with light woods, a long bar on one side of the restaurant and banquettes on the other), people come here for the food.

With plenty of pastas, crispy pizzas and fresh fish on the menu, there is a bit of something for everyone. But this isn’t a traditional Italian restaurant, so there aren’t some plates (meatballs, anyone?) as an option.

Still, the friendly service is always at the call of the patrons and they are never afraid to offer suggestions for the timid and tentative foodies.

And of course, the price is an added incentive to make a reservation.

Sit back, relax, have a drink (or an espresso). Nonna would be proud.

For more information, visit 924 Queen Street West (Toronto, Ontario), call 416-535-1655, or

Friday, July 10, 2009

Urban Mode

Sometimes it's worth going out of the way to find something that's not available anywhere else. This is true with Urban Mode, a retail concept that has been tackling small space ideas since 1977 - before the condo boom.

Although the store is located off a main street in the city, inside the converted garage is an edited selection of modern, small-scale furnishings is perfectly showcased in the open and airy space that is the approximate size/layout of a downtown condo.

Many of the pieces are convertible: a sectional that morphs into a queen-size bed, an ottoman that doubles as a storage box, and a table that can extend to serve a large group of (hungry) dinner guests. There are a variety of finishes available (from a light ash to the requisite dark espresso), and the fabric choices stay as close to neutral as possible.

But, it's not all about furniture. Urban Mode is also well-known for its selection of accessories. There are several sources of lighting (table lamps, hanging fixtures), vinyl floor coverings, and a large selection of Umbra products, second only to the Umbra Concept Store on John Street.

When the weather cooperates, the garage doors open up and the store's colourful home and garden accessories are trotted out onto the pavement.

There are so many things to whet the appetite of those who feel the need to dress up their dwelling that it's impossible not to get hungry for more. Sometimes, you just have to look for it.

For more information, visit 145 Temcumseth Street (Toronto, Ontario), or

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Over at the muzi tea shop, it's all about matcha! matcha! matcha! The story begins in 2001 when two students from Queens School of Business came up with a business plan for their 4th year thesis. That plan eventually became a reality in the form of Infuze, a tea store nestled in the heart of downtown Vancouver. The store itself has won awards for its interior design.

Bringing over matcha tea from Japan, Infuze became a local phenomenon. Matcha is a high end green tea ground into a fine, emerald-green powder, then whisked with water to create a unique and healthy beverage. Some of the benefits of matcha include: raises energy, elevates mood, calms nerves, 70x the antioxidants of orange juice and 9x the beta-carotene of spinach.

With its sights set on expanding into the rest of Canada and even the U.S. market, Infuze changed its brand name in 2005 to muzi, which stands for "made under zen influence." What's so special about this store that serves premium, fresh brewed loose leaf teas? Don't expect to find any teabags, for one. And if you're looking for a coffee, you best be on your way.

If you're in Vancouver, and find yourself caught in the rain, drop by muzi and grab yourself a cup of their Immunity tea, which is a blend of matcha, lemon, and honey - the perfect medicine to ward off pesky colds. In the summertime, if you're looking to cool down, muzi brings out their seasonal iced teas and lemonades, complete with floating flower petals!

For more information, visit

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Fire On The East Side

There are a few restaurants that combine a level of sophistication with an element of comfort upon entering their doors. And if they do, the price points don’t reflect the quality of the food being served.

Fire on the East Side offers southern inspired cooking with a global flair, caring hospitality and comfortable surroundings, and manages to offer exceptional value and delicious meals for brunch, lunch and dinner.

The seasonal menu (led by chef Laura Petracca) combines a Southern-inspired soul, with fresh ingredients. Jambalaya (smoked turkey, chorizo, sausage, shrimp, onion, peppers, Creole-style tomato sauce), Louisiana Crab Cakes (with smoked jalapeno aioli), and Stuffed Blackened Chicken (cilantro, chipolte, jalapeno, havarti/seasonal vegetables) are favorites.

To top it off is a comprehensive wine list and drink specials during the week (don’t miss their martini night).

Fire on the East Side is a sophisticated, yet comfortable, dining space that accommodates anyone – from dinner for two to up to 450 people at their event studio.

For more information, visit 6 Gloucester Street (Toronto, Ontario), or

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


There are only so many Canadian design icons that are easily identified upon first glance. Some of them are original (the Mountie, Tim Hortons coffee), while others are inspired by the land of a winter that lasts six months.

Made of reused hockey sticks, stainless steel hardware, and rare-earth magnets, the Schtick is a new Canadian icon of design (albeit, one based on a national pastime). It’s not only fun, but functional. While it hangs from the ceiling, it can hold up to 11 kilos on its ‘hooks’ that swoop to the sides.

A side project of Stephen Lindsay, urbanproduct is a Toronto-based firm that transforms and re-purposes everyday objects for the home including living, bedroom and kitchen.

With a philosophy of functionality, affordability and an ecological awareness, the designs begin as a concept which leads to a high quality, unique product – all done with a strictly quirky, Canadian twist.

For more information, visit