Design Destination: Toronto

By Joseph Pubillones

June 24, 2017 5 min read

Behold, the Toronto skyline! The Queen City has amassed an interesting collection of contemporary architecture, showcasing the talents of world-renown architects such Daniel Libeskind, Torontonian Frank Gehry and Will Alsop. The city that already ranks 8th in the world for the number of skyscrapers will be even more impressive with 10 to 20 new skyscrapers set to be finished by 2020. A city of contrasts and contradictions, Toronto's unusual city planning melds and juxtaposes buildings where Old Toronto exists side by side with the new T.O.

Toronto is a global city and one of the most populated cities in North America. Canadians can be proud of their nation's sincere sense of inclusion. The month of June around the world is known for LGTBQ pride. Torontonians especially let you know how proud they are the minute you step off Union Station with rainbow banners hanging in between the train station's columns and then throughout the city's store windows, displays and rainbow flags flying next to the iconic Maple leaf flag ... even a rainbow tinged glass railing in one of the better department stores.

Smack dab in the financial district is The Design Exchange, Toronto's design museum. It is located within an art moderne building, which was built for the stock exchange and used as such until 1982. Serenely built of local stone and surrounded by a steel superstructure skyscraper, the interior displays a remarkable use of Canadian nickel for doors, lighting fixtures and stairway banisters. A current exhibition shows off the talents of mid-century Canadian designers, which used airplane technology to design and build furniture from chairs to stereo systems. (234 Bay Street, Toronto)

Design aficionados beeline to Klaus: Toronto's longest running contemporary furniture and design store. Like a deck of cards, the loft-like space shuffles alternating floors displaying sofas, chairs and art. The store has a great mix of timeless classics with Canadian-designed furniture such as Fogo Island Inn, Lambert et fils studio and the works of artist Thrush Holmes. His artwork is made up of mixed-media canvas combining oil painting and neon lights. Holmes' work was recently shown at the 2017 NYC Kips Bay Designer Show House in the all black entrance hall.

Mjolk (milk) is a retail breath of fresh air. This cool shop, is incredibly hip, Zen and understated. The owners bring together the designs of Scandinavia and Japan in a space that echoes an earthy minimalist home. Items are displayed in their junction neighborhood shop with a curatorial savvy, which makes each simple item even more desirable. The meticulous work of Japanese artist Norihiko Terayama is featured in two giant shadow boxes filled with preserved flowers, grasses and sticks, as well as other smaller items. The store's aesthetic mantra is that their designs are "pure, honest and essential". And they are.

Even in a fast-paced city like Toronto, people take time to smell the bananas. La Banane is a great and unexpected experience, complete with great cuisine alongside great music — disco to be precise. This unique French inspired restaurant has three distinct seating areas: tables, banquettes and the mile-long marble topped raw bar and bar, and of course, banana art. This restaurant is the complete brainchild of husband and wife, Chef Brandon Olsen and Sarah Keenleyside. The interiors are awash in dark emerald green walls, filled with velvet settees, high back chairs and two chandeliers from the '70s that just cant be missed. Every course was a mouthful of temptation from the duck-fat pretzel pan d'epi appetizer, to the tuna-bathed brown butter, and the perfectly crusted Eurobass en-croute. As a grand finale, what could pair with a chilled glass of champagne, but their signature dessert ... Ziggy Stardust Disco Egg is a true edible work of art. Each piece is an aerated chocolate geometric egg vessel, which is coated inside with salted chocolate, sour cherries and filled with Peruvian chocolate truffles. Make a reservation if you can! It seems like it's always full...all the best places are.

Joseph Pubillones is the owner of Joseph Pubillones Interiors, an award-winning interior design firm based in Palm Beach, Fla. His website is www.josephpubillones.com. To find out more about Joseph Pubillones, or to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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