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Fraser Greenberg and Christian Lo’s Shoe Factory Loft

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How the converted industrial space became part home and part creative laboratory for this design-minded couple

While its days of manufacturing and machinery are behind it, this converted factory is still a hub of activity. Fraser Greenberg, owner of Milky’s Coffee and marketing director of wood flooring retailer Relative Space, shares it with Christian Lo, co-founder of Anony, and the local squirrels as well (they don’t make their way inside, but they’re “pretty much family”). And while some things have changed for them during the pandemic, they’ve both kept themselves busy with everything from the everyday – learning to cook, exercising more – to the philosophical. So if you’re keeping count, that makes one home, two people and three businesses. Below, Greenberg walks us through their place and answers our questions.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

factory loft - Christian Lo & Fraser Greenber - Ness Lee painting

Having gone to a Ness Lee exhibition for their first date, Lo and Greenberg especially like this Ness Lee diptych, which they commissioned for the space. To the right, Anony’s Row floor lamp. Media unit by Porro; stereo is vintage. Photo by Zachary Hertzman.

Designlines: Who lives with you?

Fraser Greenberg: I live with Christian Lo; it’s just the two of us. But we can tell most of the local squirrels apart, so they’re pretty much family. They’ve been teaching us the isolation skills they’ve learned from a lifetime of hibernation.

factory loft

The former shoe factory is now a trial area for many of Anony’s designs. Pictured here, the Fount floor lamp. Zachary Hertzman.

Designlines: What neighbourhood do you live in and how long have you lived there?

Fraser Greenberg: We moved to this neighbourhood in 2018, just before the birth of Milky’s. The now laneway home is situated next to a park and isn’t adjacent to a road, so there’s mostly only the sounds of people enjoying nature.

factory loft - Christian Lo & Fraser Greenber

With plenty of potted plants – including a rubber plant that’s been with Greenberg for 13 years – many of which are from Crown Flora, Lo and Greenberg enjoy plenty of greenery both in and outside their home. Photo by Zachary Hertzman.

Designlines: How old is the home and what style is it?

Fraser Greenberg: It’s an old, 1930s-ish shoe factory that was converted into two full-floor units a couple of decades ago. The original style was distinctly uninspired and functional, albeit with a Canadiana twist. The new layout is open with just a single room, and the white and maple colour scheme makes it feel warm and homey.

Along with the plants, Lo and Greenberg have a small library filled with large format design books and a healthy selection of fiction by Haruki Murakami, amongst other works. Photo by Zachary Hertzman.

Designlines: What are some of your favourite aspects of the home?

Fraser Greenberg: The book shelf is really nice. It was added when the space was most recently renovated. The owner of the house is a book publisher – based on the design of the shelves, we’re pretty sure he only publishes books of a single size. We also really like the Ness Lee painting. Our first date was to an exhibition of her work at a gallery.

While they haven’t been cooking for friends lately, Lo and Greenberg nevertheless enjoy learning new dishes. Zachary Hertzman. Plant pots by Flùr and Ikea.

Designlines: How did your relationship with your home change during the pandemic?

Fraser Greenberg: We both never stopped going to work, so our relationship with the home didn’t change too drastically. We still always plan to work at night and end up watching a movie instead.

Christian tests a lot of Anony’s designs at home. Putting the designs in the context of a home lets us see what other objects it speaks to, how it exists in the environment and how we interact with them.

Christian Lo & Fraser Greenber

Amid the art, books and greenery, Anony‘s Fount table lamp. Photo by Zachary Hertzman.

Designlines: Moving forward, with home-time now more important than ever, are there further changes you would like to make to your living environment?

Fraser Greenberg: The hardest part of living with someone is navigating your way to a single set of living devices. Two people with two sets of tableware need to whittle it down to one somehow. It’s been a long process of getting rid of objects in a responsible way. Bunz has been a good companion in doing so. In the future, we would like to find new ways to enjoy the space.

Milky's Coffee - Fraser Greenberg - Cafe Design Toronto Designlines Magazine Batay-Csorba Architects Relative Space

Milky’s Coffee, which Greenberg opened in 2019, was designed by Batay-Csorba and features 1,300 diamond-shaped Matita wood panels covering the floor, walls and ceiling. Photo by Doublespace Photography.

Designines: Creativity and business-wise, what strides were you able to make during the enforced time off?

Fraser Greenberg: Christian likes to get creative with what it actually means to be a creative. Sometimes it gets existential, sometimes playful, but it’s always a source of growth.

I’ve been spending time learning to cook, exercise and relax. One lesson I’ve learned from having to occupy my space in a new way is that my ability to find inspiration and creativity in my own space is limited only by my desire to find it. I’ve also learned that good habits are less sticky than bad ones, so I try to focus on positively spending my time.

Want to hear more about Christian Lo’s work? As part of DesignTO, Anony will be participating in a panel discussion alongside Montreal-based architectural and industrial design firm Rainville Sangaré on January 29. Click here for details.

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