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Touring Toronto, Part 1

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Last week I headed north (and quite a ways east) to one of my favorite cities: Toronto. I spend a fair share of my childhood in Toronto visiting family, and I later lived near the Annex neighborhood as an undergraduate architecture student at the University of Toronto. Traveling back to serve on the curatorial committee for the third Twenty+Change exhibition and publication, I was delighted to find the city as vibrant as ever. It continues to surprise me, with its creative forces always at work, interesting and innovative spots always presenting themselves, and endless construction being done. Here's the first part of my tour through Toronto.

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  Exploring a part of town I haven't visited much in the past, I stayed at the Gladstone Hotel on Queen Street West at Dufferin (shown here is a view toward Toronto's downtown on Friday's dreary morning). The area boasts independent shops and cafes and is home to many of the city's hipsters.  Photo by Miyoko Ohtake.
    Exploring a part of town I haven't visited much in the past, I stayed at the Gladstone Hotel on Queen Street West at Dufferin (shown here is a view toward Toronto's downtown on Friday's dreary morning). The area boasts independent shops and cafes and is home to many of the city's hipsters. Photo by Miyoko Ohtake.
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  The Gladstone Hotel is a hub for history, the arts, and evening entertainment. Built in 1889, the hotel underwent a significant renovation in 2005 that included asking local artists and architects to each design one of its 37 rooms. The lobby features a cafe, bar, and ballroom (where great rooms originally stood). The second hosts gallery space, and the third and fourth floors house additional art as well as all the guest rooms. Connecting all four levels is the original wrought-iron elevator, which dates back to circa 1904. I was amazed by the enthusiasm of the hotel employees who took me up and down in the iron cage; each was eager to tell the story of the building and the elevator and full of genuine pride about the property.  Photo by Miyoko Ohtake.
    The Gladstone Hotel is a hub for history, the arts, and evening entertainment. Built in 1889, the hotel underwent a significant renovation in 2005 that included asking local artists and architects to each design one of its 37 rooms. The lobby features a cafe, bar, and ballroom (where great rooms originally stood). The second hosts gallery space, and the third and fourth floors house additional art as well as all the guest rooms. Connecting all four levels is the original wrought-iron elevator, which dates back to circa 1904. I was amazed by the enthusiasm of the hotel employees who took me up and down in the iron cage; each was eager to tell the story of the building and the elevator and full of genuine pride about the property. Photo by Miyoko Ohtake.
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  I stayed in room 413, "Combo Moderna", designed by Kelly Palmer and Melanie Zanker. (Check back soon for a slideshow featuring the room and the hotel in greater detail.)  Photo by Miyoko Ohtake.
    I stayed in room 413, "Combo Moderna", designed by Kelly Palmer and Melanie Zanker. (Check back soon for a slideshow featuring the room and the hotel in greater detail.) Photo by Miyoko Ohtake.
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  One great discovery on this trip was Honey Pie Hive and Herbal's shampoo bar. (The company also makes a conditioner bar). Perfect for the airplane traveler, the shampoo comes as a solid bar then creates a lather when you rub it on wet hair. Check out my post from the road about Honey Pie.  Photo by Miyoko Ohtake.
    One great discovery on this trip was Honey Pie Hive and Herbal's shampoo bar. (The company also makes a conditioner bar). Perfect for the airplane traveler, the shampoo comes as a solid bar then creates a lather when you rub it on wet hair. Check out my post from the road about Honey Pie. Photo by Miyoko Ohtake.
  • 
  I spent Friday on the University of Toronto campus in a meeting with the Twenty+Change curatorial committee, selecting projects for its third exhibition and publication featuring emerging Canadian design firms. New to me was Willcocks Commons (pictured here), a pedestrian-only section of Willcocks Street that was unveiled in September 2010. Though now devoid of outdoor furniture due to winter weather, the Commons is an exciting example of reclaimed pedestrian space in urban areas.  Photo by Miyoko Ohtake.
    I spent Friday on the University of Toronto campus in a meeting with the Twenty+Change curatorial committee, selecting projects for its third exhibition and publication featuring emerging Canadian design firms. New to me was Willcocks Commons (pictured here), a pedestrian-only section of Willcocks Street that was unveiled in September 2010. Though now devoid of outdoor furniture due to winter weather, the Commons is an exciting example of reclaimed pedestrian space in urban areas. Photo by Miyoko Ohtake.
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  My touring took me to the new TIFF Lightbox, which was showing the Museum of Modern Art's Tim Burton retrospective, originally exhibited in New York from November 2009 through April 2010.  Photo by Miyoko Ohtake.
    My touring took me to the new TIFF Lightbox, which was showing the Museum of Modern Art's Tim Burton retrospective, originally exhibited in New York from November 2009 through April 2010. Photo by Miyoko Ohtake.
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  The TIFF Lightbox opened in September 2010 as the new home for the Toronto International Film Festival. Designed by KPMB Architects, the downtown structure features five cinemas that screen films throughout the year, two galleries, classrooms, and two restaurants. The blue blob is a character from the Tim Burton exhibition.  Photo by Miyoko Ohtake.
    The TIFF Lightbox opened in September 2010 as the new home for the Toronto International Film Festival. Designed by KPMB Architects, the downtown structure features five cinemas that screen films throughout the year, two galleries, classrooms, and two restaurants. The blue blob is a character from the Tim Burton exhibition. Photo by Miyoko Ohtake.
  • 
  Next up was a trip down Queen Street West between Bathurst and Ossington streets. In this picture, a regular Toronto sight: the TTC streetcars.  Photo by Miyoko Ohtake.
    Next up was a trip down Queen Street West between Bathurst and Ossington streets. In this picture, a regular Toronto sight: the TTC streetcars. Photo by Miyoko Ohtake.
  • 
  Up first on Queen Street was Magic Pony, a store that my sister recommended and that specializes in design toys, books, and small products. Though it might seem a bit kitschy at first, it's full of Dwell favorites: toys like Miller Goodman's Shapemaker Wooden toy, books like Illustration Play 2, and products such as Yellow Owl Workshop's Cityscape Stamp Sets.  Photo by Miyoko Ohtake.
    Up first on Queen Street was Magic Pony, a store that my sister recommended and that specializes in design toys, books, and small products. Though it might seem a bit kitschy at first, it's full of Dwell favorites: toys like Miller Goodman's Shapemaker Wooden toy, books like Illustration Play 2, and products such as Yellow Owl Workshop's Cityscape Stamp Sets. Photo by Miyoko Ohtake.
  • 
  Magic Pony also sells a big selection of stationery, like Regional Assembly of Text's Quiz cards and Chronicle Book's Gold Standard Noteblock.  Photo by Miyoko Ohtake.
    Magic Pony also sells a big selection of stationery, like Regional Assembly of Text's Quiz cards and Chronicle Book's Gold Standard Noteblock. Photo by Miyoko Ohtake.
  • 
  Next, it was on to Neat, a nearby modern furniture and products shop.  Photo by Miyoko Ohtake.
    Next, it was on to Neat, a nearby modern furniture and products shop. Photo by Miyoko Ohtake.
  • 
  Neat carries all the lifestyle essentials (Bodum for the kitchen, simplehuman for the bathroom, Kartell for the living room), but also a line that was new to me: the LAXseries by Mash Studios. A console from the collection is pictured in the foreground on the right.  Photo by Miyoko Ohtake.
    Neat carries all the lifestyle essentials (Bodum for the kitchen, simplehuman for the bathroom, Kartell for the living room), but also a line that was new to me: the LAXseries by Mash Studios. A console from the collection is pictured in the foreground on the right. Photo by Miyoko Ohtake.
  • 
  Now ready for a snack, we went in search of a coffee shop. Along our way, we spotted a strange little window opening. Inside, presented like an exhibition display, was The Game of Urban Renewal, a faux board game by artist Flavio Trevisan that challenges the user to redesign Toronto's urban landscape, specifically the Regent Park low-income housing project. After a bit of investigation, I discovered the small window slot is in fact a gallery called *QueenSpecific. The goal for exhibiting artists is to "consider the dimensions of the window, the locale, and the potential to engage with the casual passer-by." Trevisan's work sure grabbed my attention and I huddled around the display for a good several minutes. Quite awesome.  Photo by Miyoko Ohtake.
    Now ready for a snack, we went in search of a coffee shop. Along our way, we spotted a strange little window opening. Inside, presented like an exhibition display, was The Game of Urban Renewal, a faux board game by artist Flavio Trevisan that challenges the user to redesign Toronto's urban landscape, specifically the Regent Park low-income housing project. After a bit of investigation, I discovered the small window slot is in fact a gallery called *QueenSpecific. The goal for exhibiting artists is to "consider the dimensions of the window, the locale, and the potential to engage with the casual passer-by." Trevisan's work sure grabbed my attention and I huddled around the display for a good several minutes. Quite awesome. Photo by Miyoko Ohtake.
  • 
  Then it was time for a bite. *QueenSpecific was located immediately next to a delicious pastry shop called Dufflet. Here we enjoyed tea and hot chocolates with one of my favorite Canadian treats: a butter tart (it's essentially a single-serving pecan pie, this one drizzled with chocolate).  Photo by Miyoko Ohtake.
    Then it was time for a bite. *QueenSpecific was located immediately next to a delicious pastry shop called Dufflet. Here we enjoyed tea and hot chocolates with one of my favorite Canadian treats: a butter tart (it's essentially a single-serving pecan pie, this one drizzled with chocolate). Photo by Miyoko Ohtake.
  • 
  We also stopped at Made, a shop on Dundas Street West that sells modern Canadian design, created and nearly all fabricated in Canada. The store (and gallery) is housed in a former Chinese herb shop, whose red-and-yellow signs can still be seen through the cut-metal Made signs.  Photo by Miyoko Ohtake.
    We also stopped at Made, a shop on Dundas Street West that sells modern Canadian design, created and nearly all fabricated in Canada. The store (and gallery) is housed in a former Chinese herb shop, whose red-and-yellow signs can still be seen through the cut-metal Made signs. Photo by Miyoko Ohtake.
  • 
  Inside, Made is filled with beautifully crafted designs. The Shinny Standard by Barr Gilmore caught my eye as especially Canadian—it's made of hockey sticks after all. Furniture maker Jason Wheeler's console was also especially attractive and fascinating, as its metal front facade is actually just that: a facade. The entire piece is made of solid wood and wood veneer with the rusted metallic look painted on. Stay tuned for more about Made as well as Part 2 of my tour through Toronto!Don't miss a word of Dwell! Download our  FREE app from iTunes, friend us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter!   Photo by Miyoko Ohtake.
    Inside, Made is filled with beautifully crafted designs. The Shinny Standard by Barr Gilmore caught my eye as especially Canadian—it's made of hockey sticks after all. Furniture maker Jason Wheeler's console was also especially attractive and fascinating, as its metal front facade is actually just that: a facade. The entire piece is made of solid wood and wood veneer with the rusted metallic look painted on. Stay tuned for more about Made as well as Part 2 of my tour through Toronto!

    Don't miss a word of Dwell! Download our FREE app from iTunes, friend us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter!

    Photo by Miyoko Ohtake.

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