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Happy Birthday to Us! DL Turns 15

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Celebrating our sweet 15th

Fifteen years ago, our sister magazine Azure identified a growing appetite in Toronto for the sort of furniture it featured on its glossy pages. Our publisher regularly fielded queries, and not just from aficionados. “Where,” for example, “in Toronto, can I get a modern bed?” Designlines was launched in 2001 to answer those questions.

The biannual magazine started pocket-sized – take us shopping with you! We mapped out where to find German shelving, Italian sofas and Scandinavian silverware. Our first issue featured 62 stores: back then, Kiosk was tucked away on Dupont Street and Club Monaco’s now-defunct lifestyle store, Caban, was “it.”

Much has changed. The design districts grew so big that in 2009, we added an annual shopping-by-neighbourhood issue to the mix. This, now our eighth Guide, required a team of writers to visit and evaluate 300-plus shops and showrooms. Of those that made the cut, several – Made, Stylegarage, Umbra, to name but a few – are proudly and successfully showcasing Canadian design.

And, happily, some things stay the same. Nienkämper continues to hold court on King East, Urban Mode celebrates 39 years in Queen West and the as yet condo-free Castlefield-Caledonia district still offers acres of tubs, toilets and slabs of stone.

Thanks to smartphones, you can still take us with you by accessing our listings online in our Where to Shop section.

Below, check out our retrospective posts looking back on the best design stories from the past 15 years. Click on the title to read the full throwback.

2001-2003: The Little Magazine That Could
We look back to a time when we were all shopping at Caban, swooning over sectionals in thick white leather and celebrating exciting new architecture like the Bahan Centre by Diamond Schmitt.

2004-2006: Our First Growth Spurt
Toronto kicks off a string of striking big-name builds with Will Alsop’s checkerboard-box-on-stilts, while designers embrace digital tech to fabricate wavy drawer fronts and churn out a whole lot of reclaimed wood.

2007-2009: Riding the Wave
A time of inventive approaches to old spaces, furniture and ideas. Warehouses get converted into homes, burnt out bulbs get recycled into inventive lighting fixtures and the Junction becomes a mecca for great vintage stuff.

2010-2012: Bigger Things to Come

One Bloor breaks ground, dentist Kenneth Montague tours us through his world-class art collection and we get adventurous with shoe and bedding-themed photo shoots.

2013-2015: The Modern Age

Cover stars included a doctor’s orderly home by Heather Dubbeldam, architect John Tong (wearing yellow pants), and industrial designer Tom Deacon’s penthouse – AKA the nicest condo we’ve ever set foot in.

Don’t forget to share your Toronto design memories – old and new – with us on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Cheers!

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Get a closer look at what you can expect to find in the 2024 New Builds Issue of Designlines Magazine

In the 2024 Spring/Summer Issue of Designlines, we focus on New Builds and “celebrate the profound impact of creating something new, not just as an architectural endeavour but as a testament to laying down roots and shaping the very essence of our city’s identity,” editor-in-chief Joseph Cicerone writes.

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