Editor’s Note: Since this feature story was published in spring 2015, Lab Studio Design has closed.
Summerhill has its old guard – Edwardian homes, the Five Thieves gourmet grocers and Parisian furniture shops – but contemporary retailers are steadily moving in. Walking past the geode-like table in the window of Lab Studio Design, it’s clear that Kelly Caplette’s boutique is the neighbourhood’s latest avant-garde addition.
Despite its tiny footprint, the showroom communicates an affinity for playful colours, textures and materials at every turn. Inside the doorway, a grid of neon-hued vinyl panels makes for oversized pixel art. The wall behind the service desk – with its glowing, agate-esque front (that’s really a back-lit acrylic graphic by Quebec’s Lumigraf) – looks like coral. In fact, it’s raw plywood that was ingeniously furrowed out by California’s Soelberg Industries.
On the floor, unorthodox designs include Phillips Collection’s metal-framed Entropy chair ($1,500), which turns a spider web of cords into a surprisingly comfortable seat. A life-sized black sheep sculpture ($745) and tattooed ceramic pugs ($595) are joined by animal-friendly designs, like a machine-washable faux-cowhide rug ($1,350), which mimics skin in shape but with much trippier, laser-printed patterns.
In true “lab” form, Caplette also displays what he himself is cooking up, including the Nyx sofa: made in Toronto from FSC-certified Canadian hardwood, it features yellow and green legs, as well as an internal hand-knotted support system (from $3,800).
SHOP HERE FOR: Eclectic designs that will appeal more to Lewis Carroll–lovers than high-tea patrons. While some products, like a weatherproof polyethylene throne by Design of Love ($1,190), are vibrant and brash, others have more subtle flair. Boewer’s vacuum-veneered Gentle dining table captivates with pinched edges ($4,250).
BEST BET: Objets d’art featuring geometric forms. Case in point: a wooden rug by Boewer hinges together hundreds of wooden triangles into a 152-by-87-centimetre masterpiece ($3,550). Prop it up as a sculpture, hang it as a tapestry or lay it flat as a surface for soft feet.