Mjölk is a serene escape in the heart of the bustling Junction neighbourhood in Toronto. Located in a white Victorian building with an interior designed by local architects Studio Junction, Mjölk is owned and run by John and Juli Baker, a husband-and-wife duo who started their contemporary live/work space in 2009.
Part gallery, part lifestyle store, Mjölk successfully encapsulates the aesthetic and tranquility of the North. It specializes in modern, simple furniture and small household items made of such materials as porcelain, glass and wood. Drawing inspiration from their travels, particularly to Scandinavia and Japan, John and Juli hand-pick each item that they sell at Mjölk.
“When they travel, people often bring back souvenirs. They go to restaurants and they try to get the recipes, or they bring back the things they really like about the country and try to integrate it into their lives,” explains John. “Maybe the most extreme thing you can do is to open a store but I think it started as walking around and seeing these beautiful things and thinking: ‘well, why can’t we have the same things here?’ ”
John’s current favourite piece is a Swedish flower vase, made of mouth-blown glass with brass bracket supports,that mimics the natural landscape.
“We tend to stay away from trends because they can be fleeting. We’re more drawn to natural materials and simple forms, items that are timeless, great quality and have long-term relevancy. Investment pieces,” says John. “In terms of Canadian design, I love Quebec designers because they connect and take inspiration so much from nature,” he adds. “We carry a porcelain designer (Renaud Sauvé) who makes hand-crafted, one-off pieces that are beautiful.”
Last year, John and Juli collaborated with Swedish trio Claesson Koivisto Rune on their Celebration tea set. This year, they’ve worked with Italian, Stockholm-based designer Luca Nichetto on a porcelain pour-over coffee set, which made its debut as part of the Toronto Design Offsite Festival.
Mjölk will also take the collection to Stockholm Design Week. A limited number will be available for purchase later this year. John and Juli also publish a series of books inspired by their travels and interviews with various designers and artists, sold at Mjölk and select book stores internationally. Volume 3 is set to be published this spring.