stores we love

Stand-Out Shop: Canvas, New York
September 10th, 2011

With Autumn now upon us, our first instinct is to look to clothing to mark a new mood. But it’s just as much fun to shop the new season at home stores. Canvas, a dreamy destination we visited in New York, is a great place to start.

Nestled on the corner of Lafayette and Broome St, Canvas is exactly the kind of Soho shop you always want to find, but rarely do: high ceilinged, light-filled and curated with lovely, affordable pieces that call out to be touched.

In much the same way a new bag can renew an outfit, a couple of new pillows can transform a sofa. Canvas has a range of velvet ones to tempt us for Fall. We were also seduced by the idea of trading in our old cutlery and getting glam with their gold brushed set (lower right).

And good thing we were travelling, otherwise we would have seriously overindulged in their ceramics. We have a bit of a bowl fixation — and theirs, with lush organic lines, are a pleasure to hold.

What inspires us: the delicate color palette, celadon fading to beige then bursting into vivid blue. The sinuous shapes of the ceramics. The wonderful textures: richly grained chopping boards, Ethiopian cotton textiles, and linen upholstery.

And we love how they feature boxes of our stationery to create pops of color (lower left).

If you can’t make it to the shop, they have an online store which is a gorgeous experience in itself — we’re often screen-grabbing their beautifully art-directed photographs for our mood boards.

* Canvas, 199 Lafayette St, New York, NY. (212) 461 1496.

Stand-Out Shop: Front & Co., Vancouver
August 20th, 2011

Sometimes, a good store can introduce you to a whole new neighborhood. This was our good fortune last week when we visited Front & Company, in the mid-Main Street section of Vancouver.

The names of shops alone could be a sourcebook for quirky, hip businesses. Within two blocks we found: The Lip Lounge (adorable sundresses and makeup), Smoking Lily (cool kid’s clothes), Barefoot Contessa (Vancouver meets Antropologie), Life of Riley (cute tops), Bob Likes Thai Food (yep, thai food), and — puns are our weakness — the café Bean Around the World. Definitely make a visit to this area if you’re drawn to local, independent style.

Front & Co., established in ‘93, is the one that is credited with starting it all. We’re delighted they carry our line (bottom left), and they have a wide range of spirited cards, including Canadian card superstars Whigby.

Their decorative accessories exhibit a great eye. Check out these great plates from the National Gallery in London (middle left); a Fornasetti effect for a fraction of the price. Jewelry is also standout, with great affordable ideas. How cute is an oversized brass ring with Mickey Mouse ears (lower right)? Definitely $15 worth of cute.

Inspiring to us? The sense of whimsy and delight in owner Flora Cheung’s buying, and also the fresh, energy of the area: young businesses, sharing their own individual brand of creativity.

* Front and Company, 3746 Main St, Vancouver, BC. V5V 3N7. (604) 879 8431.

Postcard heaven in Vancouver
August 12th, 2011

When people hear that we run a card company, the conversation often turns to postcards. As in: what ever happened to all the wonderful postcards you used to be able to send? Well, now I know. They’ve all gone to postcard heaven: Stella Chapman’s tiny (and by tiny, I mean no more than 10′ square) little shop on Vancouver’s Granville Island.

We felt like Dorothy falling down the rabbit hole into a magical place. Unexpected postcards and the little stories they all hold. It was hard to stop at four.

Clockwise (from top left): a typically quirky Elliott Erwitt photo from ’56, a delightful Dutch fashion pic from the 60s, a charming doodle from the French illustrator Serge Bloch, and a piece of advertising from the 70s designed to look 30s from Jean Villemot. Villemot is a discovery for me. French, 1911-1990, the master of many Orangina posters in the heyday of French poster art. He’s very collectable these days.

Serge Bloch is fast becoming one of our favorite illustrators. That French ease and insouciance charms us. Check out his site here.

Elliott Erwitt’s website is also well worth visiting. Yes, he’s the guy that took that famous shot of the couple kissing in the car’s mirror.

* The Postcard Place, The Net Loft Building, Granville Island, Vancouver. 604 684 6909

New York windows: A trio of shoes
August 11th, 2011

We have always had a bit of shoe addiction, but when we started to realize how much ink and paper we could buy for a pair of Pradas or velvet slippers from Stubbs, we had to curb our ways. So now we’re firmly in the window-shopping camp. (So occasionally we slip. Tell no one.)

Believe us, having styled a fair few accessories shoots in our day, shoes are among the most challenging. How to enhance them with props, without overwhelming them. Here are three recent ‘windowscapes’ we loved. Left to right, Cole-Haan with a jar of paint brushes, little girls’shoes swim with jellyfish at Bonpoint, and tiny men try to commandeer a pair of Prada flats at Saks. This last one was a particularly clever use of scale — you are immediately drawn into the fine details on the bow of an otherwise simple shoe.

Stand-Out Shop: Green Cottage, High Falls
August 4th, 2011

We were recently staying with friends in the Catskills, and this gave us the chance to visit one of the stores that carries our cards. Green Cottage is refreshingly true to its name: it is indeed a charming little cottage painted green — and just the kind of shop you hope to find when you are winding through the sunny, rolling roads of upstate New York.

This is a store that reminds us just how pleasant and recreational shopping can be, far from the urgency of 5th Avenue. And, yes, it certainly helps when you are greeted at the front door by a life-size deer in dayglo orange.

Dennis Nutley and David Urso created Green Cottage back in 1997, combining their worlds of flowers and jewelry, respectively. These two categories still inform the store and it boasts some of the most marvelous flowers and lovely jewelry in the area. But it’s remarkable what else they pack into a relatively small space.

Candles of all shapes and sizes? We love the orange tapers from a Danish company Erik & Ester. Lovely tactile clothing? A friend found her favorite paisley scarf here. One-of-a-kind art? That white bust (top right) is actually a vase from local artist Lora Shelly. And a card to go with that last minute hostess gift? You are spoilt for choice: our line, but also charmers like Rifle Paper Co., and Austin Press.

What inspires us: the unapologetic use of color (chartreuse with purple and red trim? sure!), and the product-packed environment that encourages the eye to explore. It reminds us how pleasures can be amplified when they are unexpected. It is in the charm of a little unnecessary detail.

* Green Cottage, 1204 State Route 213, High Falls, NY 12440. (845) 687 4810.

Stand-out Shop! Petite & Sweet, Toronto
June 23rd, 2011

Ok, we confess: we love stores. To us, finding a perfect shop is a little like discovering a wonderful story. Which is why we’re introducing a new series to our blog called ‘Stand-out Shops’.

A stand-out shop is one that, through its mix of merch and interior design, genuinely inspires us. We see colors, shapes and textures that make us want to run back to our studio and create. Naturally all these stores carry cards (and sometimes ours!) but they are not always stationery stores.

Petite & Sweet is full of light and charm: delicious coffee, chic desserts, colorful ribbons and wrapping, and unexpected gift items – for example, who wouldn’t adore these white owls? Petite & Sweet run a very successful event company and, just 3 months ago, they created this retail space in Rosedale (a tony Toronto neighborhood).

What inspires us? The delightful use of colors, the streamlined black and white decor, the sense of whimsy in the party decorations (old fashioned candy bags and straws!), and the you-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it realistic silk flowers (made on-site). And how adorable is their logo?

As well as our line, they carry the enchanting letterpress cards from Mr. Boddington’s Studio.

* Petite & Sweet, 420 Summerhill Ave, 647-348-7700.