I was back visiting Toronto for a week and on a quest with my mother to visit unique Canadian design stores – the reality is that I feel completely deprived in that sense living in Ireland (thank God for the internet!). Most design stores here are much of the same cookie cutter bunch or completely unaffordable. It was raining and overcast in Toronto – not much of a day to be bopping all over town to satisfy my need to see what was new and exciting in a city I miss dearly.
Walking into Mjölk was a little like spotting your first crush at 13 years of age. You get excited, you are smiling way too much and you don’t want to leave the location where it happened (remember that feeling that you knew it was poast your curfew but you were afraid that if you left you would never meet him/her?). Yup – that’s what I was like.
Image via here.
So a few things. First off, the amazing couple team behind Mjölk happily filled out the Row House Nest interview! You are getting it here first, the inside scoop with John & Juli from Mjölk – dear Lord, I sound like Rick Campanelli on ET Canada. I take that all back, but it is pretty f-ing awesome regardless. Second, this post includes a mixture of pictures from mjolk.ca, kitkadesigntoronto.com (the duo’s design blog they have been writing for a few years) and my own pictures. I have tried my best to label each correctly!
Mjölk lives in an old white Victorian building in the Junction, an up and coming neighbourhood in Toronto, Canada. This is what the storefront looks like at nighttime in the winter! Image via here.
I hope you enjoy getting to know John and Juli as much as I did. Long live Mjölk!
Question. Tell readers about a little about yourselves.
Response. We are John and Juli Baker, we live in the Junction where we run a store called Mjölk.
Question. How did you decide to open a retail store?
Response. We started a blog called “Kitka” a few years ago to create something that both Juli and I could work on together on. We would always share new designs from Scandinavia and people would often tell us that they wished stores in Toronto would start carrying these types of products. We saw a niche in the market and went for it.
Question. When and how did you decide to focus on Scandinavian style?
Response. I think we both naturally connect to Scandinavian design, the forms are very pure and all unnecessary elements are eliminated. When you visit Scandinavia you see modern design everywhere, it is on the streets, in department stores, it’s the faucet in the kitchen and the handles on the front door, it is very universal not just locked up in high end stores. We made that the inspiration for our store.
Image from here.
Question. What unique objects does Mjölk offer its shoppers?
Response. We are proud to have a lot of Japanese handcrafts that we have introduced to North America, many of them that have never been available outside of Japan. You can find beautiful wooden butter cases, brass bottle openers, and brushes. We’re also happy with the amount of Icelandic products in the store, most notably the sea blanket by Vík Prjónsdóttir and bird hanger by Ingibjorg Hanna.
Far left – Sea blanket by Vík Prjónsdóttir! Images from here.
Question. Can you tell the readers a little bit about the Junction and why you decided to open Mjölk there.
Response. There was something special about the Junction. If you drive down Dundas St West just before the Junction there is just nothing around and the second you hit Dupont/Annette there are all of these beautiful century old Victorian buildings that have for the most part remained unchanged. When we moved in, the neighborhood had seen better days. Now there are so many new interesting stores and cafes it’s become a day trip destination and a place where you want to put down roots.
Question. Your favourite item in the store right now?
Response. Masakage Tanno Business card cases. We met Masakage Tanno at his home in Hokkaido, Japan in February and got to see first hand how these wooden business card cases are made, each one is made one by one by the artist using all wood mechanisms. They are truly a work of art.
Tanno business card cases, image from here.
Question. Favourite stores?
Juli - Robber and RAC boutique for clothes…gosh, I haven’t been shopping for “stuff” in ages…except random items via online (recent happy purchases include Hetterson sweater/dress and Scotch Naturals nail polish).
Question. Favourite websites and blogs?
Response. Door Sixteen and The Brick House, it seems like we’ve been reading these blogs forever but they always keep us interested. Juli also likes Fieldguided, Sandra Juto and Bonjour Celine…among many.
Question. Favourite magazines?
Response. I really love Monocle and Inventory Magazine which features a lot of travel, design, and fashion. I can say for the two of us we really love Dwell magazine, and any obscure magazines we pick up on our travels. Juli likes Elle Decoration UK, Sweden and Norway - they are always consistently good and we have a subscription to all three.
Question. Where would you like to be in ten years?
Response. We would love to have a family and a small well planned home to live in. The rest would stay the same – we both love what we’re doing and the capacity at how we’re doing it, we’re happy with our single store in the Junction.
Image from here.
Image from here.
Would you like to get in touch with Mjölk, look through their online store or read their blog? You really should! Stop by John & Juli’s store. It’s beautiful and they are incredibly friendly and warm. My mom and I can both vouch for that!
Location: 2959 Dundas Street West
Toronto ON M6P 1Z2
T (416) 551-9853 (closed Mondays)