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2001-2003: The Little Magazine That Could


Looking back on the stores, designers and trends that made the news during our first three years

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. Designlines was launched in 2001 to answer those questions. This is part one of our retrospective. For more trips down memory lane, check out parts twothreefour and five.

2001: Our Neighbourhood Faves


i. DL-0416-20012003blog-2001-2 ii. DL-0416-20012003blog-2001-3 iii. DL-0416-20012003blog-2001-4

The magazine started pocket-sized – take us shopping with you! Working then with Concrete Design, we mapped out where to find German shelving, Italian sofas and Scandinavian silverware. Our first issue featured 62 stores and it’s interesting to look back on what the design heaviest neighbourhoods looked like in 2001. We grouped King and Queen Street East together [i.] where Klaus and MachineAge Modern still hold court. Across town on Queen West [ii.], the 18 listings included trendy bars and restos (remember Habitat?), as well as Club Monaco’s now-defunct lifestyle store, Caban. In 2001, it was considered the “it” shopping destination. Further west and north, we dubbed the just burgeoning Castlefield and Caledonia Design District as “Uptown[iii.]. Then just nine showrooms there made the cut – in 2016 we peg 58, including long-timers Elte, Palazzetti and Taps Bath Centre.

Yes, these older issues are time capsules of sorts, charting Toronto’s love for design, from the heart of the city outward.


2002: Hello, Products and Architecture


 i. DL-0416-20012003blog-2002-RocheBobois4 ii. DL-0416-20012003blog-2002-Karim iii. DL-0416-20012003blog-2002-BahenCentre-3

Proving quite popular, wee Designlines takes the leap this year to printing bi-annually and doubling its page count. With the additional room we were able to show more of the sort of design we were keen on. We loved sectionals in thick white leather (love you Roche Bobois [i.]), Motoretta’s selection of scooters and Karim Rashid’s mind-and wood bending seating [ii.]. In fact, it appears we were quite into the curvy and globular!

On the more serious front, it was this year that we expanded our coverage by including architectural destinations (the Bahan Centre by Diamond Schmitt [iii.] had just opened), bookstores and other design resources (RIP David Mirvish Books) and events. And while reaching out we also managed to wrangle the stores into better-defined districts for our fold-out back cover map.

Roche Bobois showroom photo by Richard Johnson.

2003: Friends and Family


i. DL-0416-20012003blog-2003-KlausSr-1 ii. DL-0416-20012003blog-2003-UrbanMode-1 iii. DL-0416-20012003blog-2003-Chou-1

Now in a groove we expand coverage yet again by including profiles on the design community’s movers and shakers. We introduced the faces and stories behind some of the city’s most prominent stores including Klaus Nienkämper Sr [i.] who inarguably, with the opening of what is now Klaus in 1968, launched Toronto’s what we now know to be King East Design District. His son, Klaus Jr, takes the reigns, consistently supplying us with magnificent eye-candy and product. Another stalwart we shone the spotlight on was Myrlene Sundberg and John Palchinski of Urban Mode [ii.], which celebrates its 39 years of holding down Queen West’s design scene.

And we named ones to watch including interior design firms II by IV, Giannone Petricone Associates, and architect-industrial designer Johnson Chou [iii]. We’ve revisited Chou several times since, covering the office he built for Red Bull, his former home, which featured a prototypical Base system, now produced by Avani Kitchens, and a series of chairs he conceived of for Blowfish’s second location. Designlines indeed is a bit of a time capsule, and its fun to flip through older issues to look back on the early days of some of the city’s most successful designers.

Photo of Klaus by Evan Dion, Johnson Chou photo courtesy of Johnson Chou Design.

Check back in the coming weeks as we publish retrospective posts looking back on the best design stories from the past 15 years. Don’t forget to share your Toronto design memories – old and new – with us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. Cheers!


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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