Toronto’s Lady Marmalade Refreshes + Relocates

Toronto’s Lady Marmalade Refreshes + Relocates

Known for its daily offerings, Toronto brunch institution Lady Marmalade and its devoted following can now enjoy their meals inside a space that looks as good as its food tastes. Their newly renovated space, designed by Omar Gandhi Architect in collaboration with SvN, is located on an up-and-coming stretch of Broadview Avenue just north of Dundas Street in the east end of the city.

Photo by Janet Kimber

A long, narrow, dark building was transformed into a bright, warm space that’s an excellent exploration of scale, proportion, materiality, and light. The front exterior holds on to the original brick façade, while a large new storefront window allows for a glimpse inside for passersby. Cedar cladding accents the aging brick, and will develop its own patina over time to complement it.

Photo by Janet Kimber

A small entryway opens into a light-filled three-story space at the front of the dining room, while exposed beams throughout are a nod to the restaurants past lives.. The first and second levels provide seating, and include a double-height private dining area at the rear of the building. New windows at both the front and back of the space, as well as skylights, provide plenty of illumination even on overcast days when played against the Baltic birch interior finish that’s consistent throughout.

Photo by Bob Gundu

Services and circulation are situated along on side, while the kitchen is located in the rear of the building on the first floor with the same openness as their previous location. A small addition in the back allows for some extra space for both the kitchen and dining areas. Plenty of wall-mounted plants and warm brass accents finish off the warm interior palette.

Photo by Janet Kimber

The Baltic birch interior finish of the dining room establishes a consistent backdrop to the natural sunlight as it charts its path through the restaurant over the course of a day. The Baltic birch folds out from the wall to create banquette seating on both levels.  It is extruded to form the coffee bars, and opened up to create light slots for the suspended light fixtures. The wood material palette is consistent throughout the dining area, from the finishes of the interior doors to the wood window frames and jamb extensions. The carefully curated wall-mounted plants animate the space and provide acoustic relief for the busy weekend brunch crowds. The warm brass accents of the light fixtures add to the warmth of the interior material palette.

Photo by Bob Gundu

Photo by Janet Kimber

Photo by Bob Gundu

Photo by Bob Gundu

Photo by Bob Gundu

Photo by Bob Gundu

Photo by Janet Kimber



Symfonisk: Sounds Like Sonos, Looks Like IKEA

Symfonisk: Sounds Like Sonos, Looks Like IKEA

A springtime announcement has come to become a late summer reality: the Symfonisk table lamp speaker ($179) or Symfonisk wi-fi bookshelf speaker ($99) are both now available as intriguing additions to the Swedish furniture giant IKEA’s catalog of living accessories and as extensions of the wireless audio ecosystem of Sonos.

The Symfonisk wireless audio devices have already garnered design kudos as 2019 Red Dot Award Winners before their release. Now that they’re both out, we’ve had the opportunity to listen to both models in person to determine how they compare to similar Sonos wireless speakers, like the specifically the Sonos One and Play:1.

Both Symfonisk speakers are equipped with two class-D digital amplifiers to power a single tweeter and mid-woofer for output.

In person the Symfonisk table lamp speaker is as odd-quirky as it seemed in pre-release photos. We’d guess the 360-degree speaker+lamp design is likely split opinion into love or hate camps, with few falling anywhere between. But in person it’s charms are more evident, both as a lamp and as a speaker, especially if you’re some already invested in the Sonos ecosystem and might benefit from a secondary source of light.

Whether solo or in pairs, the Symfonisk can be programmed as the ultimate morning wake-up system of light and stereo sound using the Sonos app.

The Symfonisk lamp’s diminutive stature and only moderately bright 7W E12 bulb makes the lamp best suited as a secondary or tertiary lighting option. As a lamp. we wished the shade was a bit larger, the max output brighter. In white, thoughts of Eve from WALL·E arise, while when draped in black, there’s (almost) a Tom Dixon-ish vibe of color, texture, and silhouette. But when placed in pairs bedside, the lamp’s unconventional proportions ease up and improve overall sound.

Anyone acquainted with setting up a Sonos speaker will feel right at home using Trueplay, a combination of software and hardware used to optimize output in relation to interior features and decor.

The bookshelf version of the Symfonisk is considerably less engaging as a design – purposely unassuming – a cloth-covered rectangle intended to be wall mounted and used as a shelf. But in person, the svelte and unassuming design seems best suited wedged between hardbound volumes. When used as a bookshelf speaker, the design pleasantly disappears from view, an inconspicuous and more affordable option delivering solid sound (especially at closer distances). And at this price, picking up two speakers for just $200 becomes a reasonable temptation to succumb to compared to $400 for a pair of (superior) Sonos One speakers.

If you’re wondering how they sound, we’re pleased to report both models generally produce very good sound (especially for their prices), whether connected as a Sonos device or used via Airplay 2. They don’t quite deliver the performance of the Sonos One or Play:1 (or Apple HomePod, for that matter), but both the lamp and bookshelf speaker produce output comparable to Bluetooth speakers similar in size, with clarity dropping off only when volumes eke past into the realm of loud.

As a complement to an existing system, the IKEA x Sonos collaboration offers an enticing invitation to expand any Sonos multi-room at a modest investment, while also opening the gateway for anyone looking to  start one.


Raw Concrete is King at 22 Design Studio

Raw Concrete is King at 22 Design Studio

Husband and wife team, Sean Yu and Yiting Cheng, founded 22 Design Studio with a vision to materialize their love of minimalism and urban living. Each of their products is handcrafted by a small team of creatives at their studio in Taipei. Inspired by architect Tadao Ando, every product is made from raw concrete, designed to mimic the geometric angles and curves of brutalist architecture. Their collection of direct, honest, and daring handcrafted concrete products includes jewelry, stationery, clocks, home decor, writing tools, and watches are all driven by an intimate understanding of the material and years of exploratory design.


Friday Five with Jordan Rogove of DXA studio

Friday Five with Jordan Rogove of DXA studio

Jordan Rogove has accomplished a lot in his 20-year career. He’s co-founded DXA studio with partner Wayne Norbeck, completed a tower that straddles Manhattan’s High Line, and won design competitions for health-focused housing in Haiti, an arena for the New Jersey Devils, a pedestrian bridge, and park in midtown Manhattan. He’s designed and fabricated scenic sets for television and stage, helped realize the Louis Sullivan Award winning historic Carbide & Carbon Building renovation as well as the AN Best Renovation Project 100 Barclay, and designed and overseen over twenty high-end residential and commercial projects in New York City. Among 40 current projects Jordan is currently working on, there are a number of socially-minded endeavors underway, including the development of an orphanage in Zambia, a health-focused community in St. Marc, Haiti and the renovation of multiple derelict buildings in Detroit being turned into campuses for performance and visual artists. Jordan is currently a visiting Professor of Practice at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Chief Architect & Design Officer at Residential Connected Health, and proud father of three amazing children with his wife Laura. He’s taken some time out of that busy schedule to share a few favorites that keep him inspired for today’s Friday Five.

Photo by Jordan Rogove

1. Books
I fall short in just about every metric relative to my heroes. Reading about the likes of Lincoln, Michelangelo, DaVinci, Franklin, and Vermeer among others helps put the adversity they all faced, the genius they exhibited in overcoming it, and their leadership and/or creativity into perspective and helps push me to be better. While I don’t think I’ll ever come close to catching up, their stories make the daily trivialities I face stay that way and add fuel to my creative fire. I also enjoy reading about impossible projects, like the building of the Brooklyn Bridge and the original Penn Station. And if you ever want to truly understand why New York is so messed up with its relationship to its airports and how destructive endeavors like the BQE and Cross Bronx Expressway happened, look no further than the Power Broker by Robert Caro. This epic book about Robert Moses and his increasingly grim vision for the city is one of the best books I’ve ever read.

Photo by Jordan Rogove

2. Drawings/Paintings
Since I was little, I have identified with drawing and painting as the most natural means by which to express myself and explore the big ideas. I have filled hundreds of sketchbooks with ideas, most only interesting to me, but some with seeds that have led to some of DXA’s better projects. A majority are pen and ink drawings, but when time allows I turn to watercolors and oil paints. Before having kids my wife and I spent marvelous Saturdays with renowned painter Marvin Mattelson learning the art of portrait painting. What is more difficult than painting people’s faces? The thrill that you feel when you capture some tiny detail that brings everything together is indescribable and addictive. A recent method of sketching has been the new iPad Pro with the Concept and Adobe Sketch apps. Just scratching the surface with them, and it’s been a lot of fun.

Attic by Willem de Kooning 2019 Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York

3. The Met/The Attic
While I am a modernist at heart, I favor the Met over MoMA. To understand modernism you need to understand all that came before. At the Met, much of human history is on display and the evolution of craft and expression through time is thrilling no matter how many times you have walked through its halls. Seeing the paintings of Sargent and Bougereau up close is a thrill, and a reminder of just how far I still have to go to even venture to call myself a painter. Most recently it has been the couple of Willem de Kooning paintings, Easter Sunday and The Attic, that I’ve spent a lot of time with. DXA has been working on a renovation and addition to de Kooning’s studio near Union Square, so exploring a way to celebrate his work and contributions to both New York City and the world of art have been a focus for the duration. The Attic in particular seems to capture the energy of the city. It is a painting you can spend quite a bit of time observing and exploring, going from space to space across its canvas.

Photo by Ari Burling

4. Garden
On one of my earliest projects in New York I had the pleasure of collaborating with the High Line Team as the tracks of the NY Central Railroad, the tableau for the High Line, passed through the building I was working on. From that collaboration came a friendship with the incredibly talented horticulturalist/landscape designer Patrick Cullina. When I renovated my townhome he stepped in to design its gardens. Watching them evolve these past few years has been a joy, and they have served as the focal point of the entire home, from planting seeds with the kiddos in the spring to hosting long summer and fall dinners with friends and family. It is the heart of our home.

Photo by Jordan Rogove

5. Water
Over the past 7 years we have been taking frequent trips to the North Fork of Long Island. It is truly a respite from the torrid pace of the design and construction worlds of New York City. We are trying to spend more and more time there of late. It has wonderful beaches and waterways, and the Sound summons memories of the cliffs of Scotland from the days of being an itinerate architecture student. From outdoor meditations, to sailing, to lounging with friends on the beach, it is a place of restoration and serenity that I am becoming increasing dependent upon.


Laced Up Gifts for the Sneakerhead

Laced Up Gifts for the Sneakerhead

It’s more likely than not someone in your life is a self-professed sneakerhead (or perhaps in denial despite their extensive collection). They’re the sort of person who keeps their kicks clean and pristine as an extension of personal hygiene, has a space dedicated to storage and display, and can list model lineages like a family tree. This roundup is for them, a short list of gift ideas for the sole obsessive:

Hex Galaxy Sneaker Duffel

Jason Markk Limited Edition Gift Set

SNKR Keeper

Cleo Barbour Sneaker Grills

Solepack SP-1 

Crep Pre-Treated Laces

Shrine Sneaker Duffle

Sneaker LEGO Puzzles

Air Max 1 LED Neon Sign


Update Your Nest for Autumn with Society6’s Duvet Covers

Update Your Nest for Autumn with Society6’s Duvet Covers

Getting the itch to change up a few things around the house in preparation of cooler weather? One of the places we like to start making updates is the coziest: our bed’s duvet cover. Whether you’re someone who swaps out the entire top layer of bedding or are just looking to change up what you already have, check out Society6’s selection of duvet covers for some inspiration!

Beautiful Mexican Serape Duvet Cover by Tina Salazar

Copper Art Deco on Emerald Duvet Cover by Better HOME

flower [Japanese painting] Duvet Cover by merry

Herringbone Cream on Black Duvet Cover by Simple Luxe

Memphis Zazzle Duvet Cover by Becky Bicks

Mid-Century Modern 1.1 Duvet Cover by oldurbanfarmhouse

Modern Elegant Black White and Gold Floral Pattern Duvet Cover by BlackStrawberry

Moon rainbow Duvet Cover by Grace

The Reef Duvet Cover by littleclyde

Woman Power Duvet Cover by Frank Moth

Design Milk is proud to partner with Society6 to offer The Design Milk Dairy, a special collection of Society6 artists’ work curated by Design Milk and our readers. Proceeds from the The Design Milk Dairy help us bring Design Milk to you every day.


Peninsula Furniture Attempts to Bridge the Gap Between Disposable and Custom

Peninsula Furniture Attempts to Bridge the Gap Between Disposable and Custom

Just launched Melbourne-based sustainable furniture brand Peninsula started off with two goals in mind: to fill the gap between disposable and custom furniture and to one day have a carbon neutral footprint.

Furniture designer Jake Williamson decided to create a solution to what he saw lacking in the mid-range furniture market, viewing Peninsula as “a furniture brand for those ready to upgrade from IKEA, but who aren’t ready to fork out thousands for a custom-made dining table. For those who appreciate good design and want to buy something that’s locally-made from sustainable timber, but can’t afford what’s currently on the market in those categories.”

Williamson uses 100% Australian and FSC-certified wood, currently offsetting part of his carbon footprint through the Plant-A-Tree program. Using a CNC machineto cut wood and other materials to exact shapes and dimensions, he’s able to reduce labor costs and make Peninsula’s furniture more affordable overall.

Currently Peninsula has two pieces in its collection, both made from Tasmanian oak and feature a bevelled edge door pull – a sideboard and a bedside table that comes in three sizes. We’re definitely looking forward to what comes next!