In the quaint neighborhood of Junction in Toronto, Juli Daoust and John Baker own a unique store, Mjolk. The boutique is a lifestyle store in addition to a gallery that exhibits works by artists and artisans from both Scandinavia and Japan.
The husband and wife pair opened the store in 2009; they purchased the building and opened a real shop on the first floor and made the second floor their home.
The store’s name Mjolk means “milk” in Swedish. Daoust and Baker say that it is a word that incorporates a lot of traits they admire in good design. Milk is a substance that has a lot of character and strength despite its “unassuming look.” In Sweden, for example, everyone drinks milk… in fact, Swedes are the highest milk drinkers per capita in the world. The pair love the milk packaging in Sweden because it is very well designed; especially the Arla milk carton that features minimalist red bars, a black cow, and clean typeset.
The pair says that when they opened Mjolk, they focused solely on Nordic and Japanese designers, artisans, and furniture makers. Now, they represent makers from the United States, Spain, and Italy. The world has become a very international place. For example, Luca Nichetto is an Italian designer living in Sweden and designing for many different companies around the world.
Unique to Mjolk is that the store doesn’t carry the traditional Scandinavian wares. You won’t find an Arne Jacobsen Swan chair or a Hans Wegner Wishbone chair. Instead, Mjolk offers more of a mix of contemporary and classic designs by lesser known designers.
There are a handful of products that have been carried since Day #1. The pair is particular to the work of Oji Masanori, a Japanese designer, and Mjolk is the first to carry his work outside of Japan. The Kami mug, made by Takahashi Hidetoshi, has been a constant bestseller. The mug is unique in that its walls insulate the warm liquid inside… keeping it hotter for longer.
As explained by the team at Studio Junction (who worked with Juli and John), “The building that houses Mjolk is “Inspired by a traditional shophouse typology—commercial on the ground floor with residential above—Mjölk House presents an alternative to the single-family residence that makes up much of Toronto’s urban fabric. The specific challenges pertaining to this mixed-use property include a long, narrow lot, noise and privacy issues on the main street and rear lane sides, lack of light in the middle of the building, and lack of connection to the outdoors.”
This renovation shows how a landmark building can be successfully updated in a contemporary AND respectful manner; all the while protecting the physical character of the street. The interior has a warm feeling thanks to the abundance of oak and Douglas fir.
Originally, Juli and John’s boutique was meant to be a vintage store; however, a working vacation to Sweden and Denmark grew their mutual passion for Scandinavian design. As they began collecting the inventory for Mjolk, the pair became equally interested in Japanese pieces… noting the crossover of clean and functional design in both Scandinavian and Japanese furnishings.
We can say, without doubt, that we are thrilled the vintage idea was sidelined!