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The Not-Quite-Last-Minute Gift Guide for Toronto Design-Lovers

The days to shop before Christmas are numbered, but don’t worry: we’ve put together a list of gifts that are sure to impress

By Designlines

Jeff Bezos doesn’t need your money – our local economy does. So instead of spending cash at an online juggernaut this holiday season, choose instead to help this city’s retailers by shopping as close to home as possible. Better yet, choose to buy from the plethora of creatives in our own backyard who are making beautiful and useful objects from quality materials. Our Gift Guide for Toronto Design-Lovers has 16 ideas – from a modest $16 to $250 – to help get you started.

gift guide

Spread the… Cheer

You’d be hard pressed to find anyone that thinks 2020 has been fun or funny. Wouldn’t a little levity go a long way this holiday season? Poke some fun at this mask-wearing reality with these greeting cards – and full-size posters, too – from the Other Canadian Post. Founded by Koby Barhad, a lecturer at OCAD University and co-founder of the Toronto-based research lab Radical Norms, there are nine awesome prints to choose from. $16 for 3, at OTHERCANADIANPOST.CA

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Just Enough

The inaugural dinnerware collection by førs is elegant, minimalist and, to paraphrase their words, enough, which is plenty. Available in four colours – white, grey, coral and rose – and rugged enough for commercial use, each piece, from small plate to teapot, may just be the last one you ever need. From $18, at forsstudio.com.

gift guide

So Fresh, So Green

As we’ve said before, houseplants are pretty high up there on the list of must-haves for these strange times, along with puppies, workout equipment and at-home spa stuff. Help the green thumb in your life get their growing on with a beautiful hand-crafted planter with drainage and fitted plate by DA Ceramics. Glazed inside and out, the vessels are wheel-thrown using natural stoneware. $125, at FLUR.CA

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Third Time’s a Charm

Separately, each of Hollis+Morris’s Tidal Pool trays make for an elegant means of serving and displaying. The trio shines when stacked, though, with the smaller trays appearing to float above the larger. Available in walnut or white oak. From $115, at Hollis+Morris.

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Happy Hour

Few drinks demand appropriate glassware like Tiki cocktails. Designed by Potion House, Cocktail Emporium’s house brand, the double-sided, thick-walled glass features a pair of smiling faces for a doubly happy hour. $15, at Cocktail Emporium.

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Tie One On

Yaw Tony is a multi-disciplined architect and designer (and past Designlines cover star) whose work we just can’t get enough of. Under his brand Life Liveth, Tony weaves magical imagery with rich story-telling through his enviable scarf collection. His designs are digitally- or screen-printed and are hemmed in England on fine silk. There are multiple options – good luck choosing just one. Shown here: Steps. $250, at LIFELIVETH.COM

Round and Round

Printed on die-cut MultiLoft, a durable, ultra-thick paper, this colourful calendar by local graphic designer and typography aficionado Christopher Roleau will last for years. And with its clever rotary design, it’ll always be useful, too. $40, at 313 Design Market.

Totes Attractive

Alison Milne, one of our favourite residential designers, has opened a pop-up online shop just in time for the holidays and it delivers the same sensibility she brings to her spaces: warm and serene, with the right dose of panache. Offering everything from delicate ceramics to cushy sofas, there’s plenty to choose from here, including many made-in-Toronto collaborations. Our pick: the reversible, double-lined totes stitched from Belgian linen by J&J Made. $85, at ALISONMILNE.COM

Missing Link

From his Toronto workshop, Makework’s Arnaud Brassard seamlessly marries form with function. Designed and fabricated out of solid brass, the Link key ring features a traditional locking mechanism that is both eye- and key-catching. $45, at Average.

Where Art Thou Romeo?

Back in the fall, local artist Jerry Rugg (a.k.a. birdo) painted a humongous mural of a seahorse on top of a parking garage in Yorkville. A massive undertaking that only a few have gotten to see up close; til now. Montreal gin manufacturer, Romeo’s Gin, has created a time capsule of sorts for this urban art project by wrapping the interior of its bottle with Rugg’s imagery. Take in this wonderful sight as you sip a blend of juniper, cucumber, dill, lavender, almond and lemon. $40, at the LCBO. ROMEOSGIN.COM

Wooly Bully

Sure, regular old wool mittens will keep your hands warm. But new Italian wool that’s been boiled, a process that shrinks the fabric, making it denser, warmer and less prone to fraying, and then cut to a generous length that can run up your forearm, will keep them absolutely toasty. $78, at Hoi Bo.

The Perfect Panettone

I (Tory) was not a panettone fan until Forno Cultura converted me. Their version of the sweet bread, which originated in Milan, is a hybrid between their house-baked brioche and sourdough. One hundred per cent naturally fermented, there are no preservatives in either of their two flavour options (shelf life is three weeks). Instead, what you do get – I tried the Cioccolato version – is plump sour cherries and melt-in-your-mouth chunks of dark chocolate. $30, at FORNOCULTURA.COM

Très Beau

The Full Moon Ashtray – a collaboration by two local talents, COFO Design and artist Ellie Mae – is made from sustainable concrete materials and comes in three handsome colours. The long trench is the perfect holder for a lit smokeable while the easy-to-grip underside of the basin makes it easy pass the whole kit and caboodle on to your loved one. It’s a beautiful piece and not one to tuck away when the guests arrive. $70, at COFODESIGN.COM

Dressed for Dinner

Candice Kaye is well-known in Toronto and abroad for her whimsical wallpaper designs. When they were open, we’d bet you’ve seen her work in such favourite watering holes and restaurants as Planta, Maman Café, Byblos and Baddies. Kaye also designs fantastical area rugs and – now – hand-embroidered table napkins made in India, meaning she’s got us covered from walls to floors to our dinner table. $25, at CANDICEKAYEDESIGN.COM

Designer Denim

The denim addict in your life doesn’t need jeans – they’re too particular about them and you’ll only get it wrong. Instead, consider Sydney’s selvedge apron, which features the detailing they know and love, is one-size-fits-all and will keep their true, indigo-dyed love clean in the kitchen. $75, at Sydney’s.

Doe, a Deer

Unlike Little Bellwoods’ white squirrel plushie, there’s no real-life inspiration in Trinity Bellwoods Park for their stuffed reindeer. Given the time of year, though, we’re pretty sure whoever you give this to will let that slide – especially when it’s this cute. $56, at Craft Ontario.


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