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COFO: A Must-Visit Pop-Up for Hot, Toronto-Made Furniture

Why you should rush out to see local design startup COFO’s second collection of made-right-here home furnishings

By Tory Healy
Photography by Hiep Vu Photography

“Is it weird,” I asked a colleague, “to start an article with, ‘I’m so proud of them?’” The answer: “It’s a little partial.” Fair enough — but that’s the way I feel about this product launch, the second for local design studio COFO. Short for Cofounders and helmed by Desmond Chan and Randy Simmen, COFO introduces new, Canadian-made home furnishings by emerging designers to the market. The goal is to champion homegrown talent and innovation, and introduce exceptional pieces – not mass-produced or expendable – to the competitive world of retail.

This is how it works: First, young designers answer COFO’s annual call for submissions by sending in their plans for original home furnishings. COFO evaluates these, picks their favourites (with the help of a few qualified outsiders. Full disclosure: I had the privilege of vetting this year’s submissions) and collaboratively fine tunes the designs through a series of revisions and prototypes. The final iterations are engineered and then fabricated from premium materials in a manufacturing facility just outside the city that excels in high-tech laser cutting, superior polishing, and finishing. The products are then sold online through COFO’s shop and a percentage of the profits are turned over to the designer.

COFO launched last year, with one product introduction (the Roque chair) at the Interior Design Show. With that experience under their belt, Chan and Simmen upped the ante by producing six new products in 2018, and reintroducing the Roque chair in new finishes. Check out the finished results at their pop-up shop – at 9 Ossington Avenue, from October 26th to the 30th – and learn about the COFO process in person. And just maybe your chest will swell with Toronto pride, too.

The 49th lounge chair and ottoman by Kenny Nguyen and Ian Buckley

The 49N lounge chair and ottoman by Kenny Nguyen and Ian Buckley

The frame of this low slung hot seat is laser cut and welded from cold‐rolled steel. It’s then treated to a custom – and eco‐friendly – matte powder finish, trimmed with maple or walnut hardwood, and upholstered with Italian Melton wool. It and its matching ottoman are available in five colours, including army green (shown) and indigo.


The Cinch by Lucas Stanios - COFO Pop-Up

The Cinch by Lucas Stanois

The perfect chair for tight quarters, the three-legged Cinch is made from all natural Canadian maple or walnut with a Baltic birch seat. Built using CNC, the hardwood chair is hand-stained and features a back made from pure wool felt, which, being biodegradable and completely free of VOC’s, contributes to LEED. Available in four colourways.


Garcia Side Table by MaryAnne Garcia

The Garcia by Mary Anne Garcia

And now for something a little multifunctional. The graceful and accommodating Garcia is the perfect complement for those on the go living with an urban-sized foyer or bedroom. Its hand-stained, wood veneer base features a turn‐table storage compartment for stashing extra stuff while the multi‐rotational and removable laser cut cold‐rolled steel post offers wooden pegs for hanging coats and a mirror for last minute hair checks. Available in four matte finishes.


The 49th side table by Kenny Nguyen and Ian Buckley - COFO Pop-Up

The 49N side table by Kenny Nguyen and Ian Buckley

A natural sidekick to the lounge chair and ottoman, this handsome stand’s frame is laser cut and fully welded from cold‐rolled steel and treated to one of five matte colour finishes. Its top and feet are available in either maple or walnut and the table comes with a removable hammock (perfectly cat-sized, it hangs within the frame) made of Italian Melton wool.


SOMA Shelf by Olivia Sementsova

The Soma by Olivia Sementsova

How do you combine sophistication with pet-friendly? Soma has evolved from cat tree with book holds to this elegant storage system made from cold-rolled steel and hand-stained veneer. The base compartment has ventilation designed into its details as inside is a removable litter box compartment (there’s an optional scratch pad, too). Up top on the adjustable shelves, rotatable cubbies offer generous storage or hiding spots for furry friends. Choose from five powder coat finishes.


ROQUE Chair by Trish Roque - COFO Pop-Up

The Roque by Trish Roque

Don’t call it a comeback. COFO’s inaugural product is being reintroduced in new finishes and materials, including a premium copper and multi-coloured options. The deep, super comfy high-density foam seat – upholstered with Italian Melton wool – rests atop a cold-rolled steel frame treated to a custom, eco-friendly powder coat finish. Choose from six different finishes.


The pop-up at 9 Ossington Avenue will be open these dates and times:

Fri, Oct. 26th 10 – 8pm
Sat, Oct. 27th 10 -7pm
Sun, Oct. 28th 10 – 6pm
Mon, Oct. 29th 10 – 7pm
Tue, Oct. 30th 10 – 7pm

Categories: Editors' Picks

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