Archive for the ‘Canadian’ Category

If You Need Me, I’ll Be Curled Up in My Bookcase

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

It’s a chair! It’s a shelf! It’s… a Bookseat.

Inspired by Le Corbusier’s condemnation of the space-wasting nature of most furniture, and in response to the increase in – and increasing need for – multifunctional spaces in our living and working arenas, Toronto-based Fishtnk Studio created the Bookseat.

Combining more than 12 linear feet (3.6 m) of shelving space with a swoopily curving, generously sized seat, the Bookseat not only functions as storage unit and chair, but also as installation piece. Not altogether surprising, given that Bookseat designer Mani Mani is an interdisciplinarian whose work encompasses installation art, product design and architecture.

The locally sourced, hand-crafted bookcase was first launched at Toronto’s Interior Design Show (IDS) in 2008, winning acclaim both there and at Montreal’s International Design Show (SIDIM). Minor updates saw its relaunch at IDS 2012, and we’re thrilled to have one of these Canadian-made beauties available (for admiration or purchase) at Swipe DX, our pop-up store at the Design Exchange.

Number 22 from an edition of 100, and gorgeously crafted from Canadian Maple, it comes with (or without) a felt cushion in customizable colours. Ideal for any interior. Maybe even yours.

It’s the perfect place to curl up with a book. Or 163 of them. Because – from a quick glance at our shelves at Swipe – that’s how many we think you could fit.

Bookseat #22/100a: $1900 ($2200 with cushion)

The F-Word, Manifested

Saturday, June 16th, 2012

In a period of angry frustration at his native Newfoundland – “… what cripples the vast majority of our culture and society here is the fact that we dont quite know what to be angry about. We never know where to throw the punch.” – and inspired by a
t-shirt f-ing the many icons of New York City, writer and performer Joel Thomas Hynes sat down to write his own.

The rest, as they say, is history: “… I got a little carried away. Suddenly I was writing a quilt. Maybe a sail for a boat. Maybe a manifesto.” His reworked piece wound up on stage, at a 2006 fundraiser for the Resource Centre for the Arts in St John’s. Recorded (but not broadcast) by the CBC – “And f*** the CBC for not having the nuts to put this on the radio,” reads the final line in the revised work – God Help Thee: A Manifesto first appeared in print, with an accompanying postscript, in the Fall 2008 issue of Riddle Fence, and later in Maisonneuve Magazine. Very little escapes Hynes’ expletive-laced wrath, which reads both as backlash against the idyllic quaintness of Newfoundland tourism campaigns, and ode to a place both home and heart.

In June 2011, Running the Goat Books and Broadsides published the manifesto in chapbook form in a limited edition of 375, which promptly sold out: hand typeset (an entertaining challenge, given the unprecedented number of “F”s and “k”s), letterpress printed, hand tinted and hand sewn.

Featuring impeccable wood engravings by Abigail Rorer, this perfectly packaged diatribe is now in its second printing and is available at Swipe for just $29.95 – plenty of f*** for your buck. (2011; 2nd printing 2012: Running the Goat Books and Broadsides; ISBN 9780986611322)

Word on the street is that the book’s profanity-decorated watermark-effect pages will soon be available in notebook form… We’ll keep you posted.

Oh, and if you like your swearing live, you can download an audio version of God Help Thee from the Rattling Books website.

Swipe Takes to the Botl

Saturday, June 9th, 2012

The botlfilter Personal Water Filter System, that is. Created by proudly Canadian company botl Inc., whose mission is to create environmentally responsible products and reduce plastic waste, the botlfilter system has joined the frontline of the tap-water revolution.

It’s small, simple, portable, and best of all, waste free. Just pop a filter bag inside the stainless steel case, drop it into your bottle of tap water, shake for 15 seconds, and drink happily away.

The filter bag (which is fully compostable and biodegradable) uses activated carbon from coconut shells to trap nasties such as chlorine, chloramines, lead, phenols, pesticides and detergents. Shaking the bottle speeds up the process. The filter case is made of North American stainless steel, with food-grade plastic caps. It’s dishwasher (or soap and water) safe, and infinitely reusable. On top of this, packaging is 100% recycled, recyclable and carbon neutral. The whole system meets NSF Standard 42 for chlorine, taste and odour reduction.

One filter bag produces up to a gallon (about 8 bottles) of tasty water: switch to a fresh bag every 1–3 days, depending how much water you guzzle.

One word to the wise: like most filters on the market, botlfilter is intended for use with municipal tap water, not to purify contaminated water or that from unknown sources. So resist the urge to fill your bottle from the nearest puddle (or even the nearest sparkling lake). Or if you must, don’t blame botl (or us) if you grow an extra head.

botlfilter Portable Water Filter Case, with 4 Filter Bags: $12.95
botlfilter Replacement Filter Bags, pack of 16: $12.95

Pass the Pledge™ and Watch Out for that Tree

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

Streamridge Vintage Wooden Toboggan

These steam-bent Ontario ash toboggans are a direct continuation of a Canadian tradition going back possibly a millennium. Distinct from a sled with runners, the flexible toboggan is ideal for use on rough ground and was the standard wintertime sledge for Innu and Cree living below the tree line. Additionally, Streamridge toboggans, from the Bauman Sawmill near Saint Jacobs, highlight a second venerable Canadian tradition: that of rural sawmills producing toys and amusements outside the building season (think Victoriaville).

Six Foot Vintage Toboggan with Pad: $199.95


To purchase any of the products or titles mentioned here, please visit our downtown Toronto location, call us toll-free at 1-800-56-swipe or e-mail us at:

Design Is No Picnic … Except When It Is

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009


Rosti Basic Outdoor Dishes
? 1978: Koen de Winter cdnmapleleaf

As a professor at the Université du Québec à Montréal and President of the Association of Canadian Industrial Designers, Belgium born Koen De Winter has made a profound contribution to the establishment of industrial design as a rigorous profession in Canada. Most recently de Winter has been both designing and manufacturing a beautiful line of ceramic kitchenware and serving pieces under the brand Atelier Orange, subject of a previous Swipe post. Of the several items he designed for Danish housewares manufacturer Rosti, the Basic line of casual dinnerware in melamine, created in 1978, remains in production and is one of the manufacturer’s most popular products. While North Americans consider melamine dishes suitable only on the patio or for camping, in Benelux it is extremely common for families to eat both breakfast and lunch from plastic dishes, and Rosti sells hundreds of thousands of pieces of Basic each year. Having previously won the Design Canada Award, De Winter was, in 2005, honoured with Flanders Design’s Henry van de Velde Career Award, celebrated with a nice little photo gallery on Créativité Montréal.


Large or Deep Plate: $9.95
Breakfast Plate: $8.95
Egg Cup: $2.95
Cup & Saucer or Mug or Soup Cup: $ $7.95
(All are available in white and most in lime green.)


To purchase any of the products or titles mentioned here, please visit our downtown Toronto location, call us toll-free at 1-800-56-swipe or e-mail us at:

Is This the Real Reason So Many Canadians Have a Penchant for Modernist Architecture?

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009


Girder and Panel Building Sets
? 1956: Austin Kelk & Peter Kelk cdnmapleleaf

In 1956 Toronto toy manufacturer Peter-Austin Manufacturing produced a novel toy building system consisting of interlocking polystyrene girders and thin vacuformed panels. Marketed in Canada as the Trans Canada Highway Bridge Set and later, with the addition of architectural wall panels, as Pam ‘n Andy Structural Building Sets, the system was licensed by Kenner Products of Cincinnati in 1957 and released in the United States as Grider and Panel.


This wonderful Canadian design, the first architectural toy to emulate Twentieth-Century curtain wall construction techniques, remained in production with Kenner until 1980. However, given its Canadian origins, it is not surprising that the product continued to be manufactured in Canada long after that. In fact, as late as 1994, we carried the line at Swipe (at that time manufactured by Irwin Toys of Toronto) although it did disappear altogether shortly thereafter.


In 2005 engineers Carol and Peter Flack founded Bridge Street Toys near Boston for the sole purpose of reviving Girder and Panel and the more elaborate “Hydrodynamic” pump, tank and valve building system. The line has been gratifyingly well received by a new generation of parents and educators, winning Parent’s Choice, NAPPA, and Dr. Toy awards. We offer a selection of all systems, though as these are bulky items, shipping to Canada makes them unfortunately expensive. Also, for anyone nostalgic about a particular set they had as a child, there is a comprehensive collector’s site with pictures of virtually every historic model.

Girder and Panel Tower Set: $79.95
Girder and Panel Plaza Set: $129.95
Bridge and Turnpike Set: $79.95
Hydrodynamic Deluxe Set: $149.95


To purchase any of the products or titles mentioned here, please visit our downtown Toronto location, call us toll-free at 1-800-56-swipe or e-mail us at:

Do Gooder

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009


Do Good Design: How Designers Can Change the World
? 2008: David B. Berman cdnmapleleaf

As ethics chair for the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada, David Berman was responsible for the develpement of the RGD and GDC code of ethics, now used by Icograda as a template for national graphic design organizations worldwide. In Do Good Design Berman goes beyond conventional design ethics, taking to task a profession that, too often, is paid to create deceptive or exploitative images in support of a highly destructive form of consumerism based on invented needs. “Overconsumption,” he writes, “is fueled most powerfully by clever visual arguments to convince everyone (including larger, growing Developing World populations) to consume more and more. Our impact as designers and as consumers of design is huge. We should be held responsible”.

The great American industrial designer Raymond Loewy famously refused only one job in his career: that of creating a more lethal anti-personnel hand-grenade for the American military. Berman could rightly be accused of overestimating designers’ influence in the battle between global consumerism and more humane values. Yet, while designers didn’t start the war, there is no denying that they often do help make the “weapons of mass deception” more lethal. Designers are not defense lawyers, they are not obliged to defend their clients’ malevolent actions, indeed they are ethically bound to refuse to do so (and even defense lawyers are legally prohibited from knowingly lying). Designers must not excuse their involvement in the creation of damaging messages by hiding behind the design brief. Rather Berman demands that they be guided by the overwhelming contemporary imperative to do good. (2008: Peachpit Press; ISBN 9780321573209)


Watch here for news of a possible upcoming Toronto panel-discussion featuring Mr. Beman. In the meantime, listen to the a pair of interviews with the author, the first is Author Talk with Peachpit Press publisher Nancy Aldrich-Ruenze, about the book itself:

[audio:|titles=Author Talk with David Berman] the second, about the democratization of design, is from CBC Radio’s All In A Day with Adrien Harewood:

[audio:|titles=David Berman on CBC Radio]


To purchase any of the products or titles mentioned here, please visit our downtown Toronto location, call us toll-free at 1-800-56-swipe or e-mail us at:

Doors Open, Toronto (and Look Who Drops In)

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009


With Doors Open Toronto 2009 just around the corner we here at Swipe and BUILT are more thankful than ever to be part of the extraordinary culture complex at 401 Richmond Street West. A prime destination during the festival, 401 is expecting several thousand visitors over the weekend of May 23rd and 24th. Accordingly, Swipe and Built will be open both days from 10 am to 6 pm.

In celebration of this celebration of our city’s cultural, social and architectural heritage, BUILT offers the following selection of recently published Torontoiana, beginning with a look at the history of local urban sprawl from one of the most sagacious figures in Toronto municipal affairs, ‘Mayor Blue Jeans’ himself, John Sewell.


The Shape of the Suburbs: Understanding Toronto’s Sprawl
? 2009: John Sewell cdnmapleleaf

A meticulous and thoughtful account of how Toronto became ‘Greater’ Toronto, expanding on the author’s classic study The Shape of the City. When BUILT opened it’s doors for the first time last week a photo was needed for the 401 Richmond Street newsletter and it was (rightly) deemed unnewsletterworthy to simply shoot one of us behind the counter so, on the flimsy pretext of a book signing, former Mayor John Sewell was lured down to the shop where he graciously agreed to have his picture taken. After recounting a series of fascinating anecdotes, taken from the book, on the origin and purpose of Toronto’s expressway system, the economic and political history of infrastructure in the 905, and the unlikely connection between the QEW and Adolph Hitler, Mr Sewell was off on his bicycle and back to work (despite the fact that he has every right just to sit at home all day muttering “I told you so.” over and over). Hard to imagine that, back in the Seventies, riding a bike to Council meetings was an occasion for snide derision in the Toronto SUN and elsewhere. (2009: University of Toronto Press; ISBN 9780802095879)



Toronto’s Visual Legacy: Official City Photography from 1856 to the Present
? 2009: Steve MacKinnon, Karen Teeple & Michelle Dale cdnmapleleaf

This unexpectedly beautiful book, published in conjunction with the City of Toronto Archives to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the city’s incorporation, brings together a selection of official City of Toronto photographs chosen by City archivists from their collection of hundreds of thousands of images. Among our favourites, this 1913 scene at 21 Elizabeth Street with the perfect juxtaposition of poverty and power which, unfortunately, characterizes the area around City Hall to this day. (2009: Lorimer; ISBN 9781552774083)





Art Deco Architecture in Toronto: A Guide to the City’s Buildings from the Roaring Twenties and the Depression
? 2009: Tim Morawetz cdnmapleleaf

With a friendly and accessible writing sytle, Art Deco Architecture in Toronto combines the elegance and flair of a coffee-table book with the accurate, practical information and anecdotal background of a guidebook. This important new book will provide the lay-person, architectural historian or Art Deco aficionado with a meaning ful appreciation of this important architectural style as it manifested itself in Toronto.

Concrete Toronto: A Guidebook to Concrete Architecture from the Fifties to the Seventies
? 2007: Micheal McClelland & Graeme Stewart cdnmapleleaf

Concrete Toronto acts as a guide to the city’s extensive inventory of significant concrete buldings and re-examines the unique value of the material and design idiom. Included are the insights of many of the original concrete architects along with a wealth of new and archival photos and drawings. (2007: Coach House Books; ISBN 1552451933)

Endangered Species
? 2007: John Martins-Manteiga, ed. cdnmapleleaf

In partnership with The School of Design at George Brown College, Dominion Modern catalogues twenty-six formative examples of Canadian Modernist architecture threatened with demolition and seeks to engender a wider debate about the value of this aspect of Canadian design heritage. (2007: Dominion Modern; ISBN 9780968193327)

GreenTOpia: Towards a Sustainable Toronto
? 2007: Alana Wilcox, ed. with Christina Palassio & Jonny Dovercourt cdnmapleleaf

In this third volume in the influential uTOpia series, green-minded Torontonians are invited to imagine a more environmentally responsible and humane city. Included is a directory with profiles of green organizations in the GTA, as well as a how-to guide and a fun-facts section. (2007: Coach House Books; ISBN 9781552451946)

Historical Atlas of Toronto
? 2008: Derek Hayes cdnmapleleaf

In this new addition to the acclaimed series, geographer Hayes charts Toronto’s history with more than 200 period maps, providing a unique visual record of the city’s development. (2008: Douglas & Mcintyre Ltd; ISBN 9781553652908)

Inside Toronto: Urban Interiors 1880s to 1920s
? 2006: Sally Gibson cdnmapleleaf

Recognized with a Heritage Toronto award in 2006, this lovely book combines 260 vintage images with extensive original research to document the rarely recorded places where Torontonians lived and worked at the turn of the last century. (2006: Cormorant Books; ISBN 189695195)

Mean City: From Architecture to Design: How Toronto Went Boom!
? 2007: John Martins-Manteiga cdnmapleleaf

Mean City captures the spirit of an unparalleled boom period in Toronto architecture and industrial design when, from 1945 to 1975, young architects and designers attempted to defy convention in a most conventional city. The book also persuasively laments the indifference that has lead to the loss of so many great modernist buildings in Toronto. (2007: Key Porter Books; ISBN 1556239126)

TSA Guide Map: Toronto Architecture 1953-2003
? 2005: Toronto Society of Architects cdnmapleleaf

This Guide Map is intended to encourage the public to explore modern architecture in the City of Toronto, cataloguing both well known buildings and those deserving of wider recognition. We are happy to report that he TSA is currently working on a new Guide Map on Open Spaces, which is scheduled to be completed later this year.

Unbuilt Toronto: A History of the City That Might Have Been
? 2008: Mark Osbaldeston cdnmapleleaf

A tremendously engaging approach to the social history of architecture and urban planning, Unbuilt Toronto examines the aspirations of the city by looking at significant building projects that were never realized, from St. Alban’s Cathedral and Eaton’s magnificent College Street tower, to the Spadina Expressway and the Queen subway. The book inspired a very successful exhibition at the ROM last winter, which is currently being remounted at Urbanscape in the Junction. (2008: Dundurn Press; ISBN 1550028359)

Art Deco Architecture in Toronto: $39.95
Concrete Toronto: A Guide to Concrete Architecture from the 50s to the 70s: $29.95
Greentopia: Towards a Sustainable Toronto $24.95
Historical Atlas of Toronto: $49.95
Inside Toronto: Urban Interiors 1880s to 1920s: $59.95
Mean City: From Architecture to Design: How Toronto Went Boom!: $26.95
TSA Guide Map: Toronto Architecture 1953-2003: $7.95
Unbuilt Toronto: A History of the City That Might Have Been: $26.95


To purchase any of the products or titles mentioned here, please visit our downtown Toronto location, call us toll-free at 1-800-56-swipe or e-mail us at:

The Bane of Antiquarian Booksellers Everywhere (Highlighters That Is, Not Conceptual Artists with Goofy Want Lists)

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009


Stabilo Boss Original Highlighter
? 1971: Dr. Hans-Hoachim Hofmann

The introduction of the Stabilo Boss highlighter in 1972 represented the invention of an entirely new product category. The Boss was the first overwriting highlighter, created to exploit the properties of what were, at the time, newly developed fluorescent inks. Stabilo claims that the distinctive oblong shape, which will not roll off a desk, was the result of an anonymous industrial designer having squashed a conical clay prototype in frustration. Well, perhaps. What is undoubtedly true is that Schwan-Stabilo recently had their German trademark on the product’s unique shape upheld in a case against the Beifa Group, a Chinese look-alike manufacturer. As with Kenji Ekuan’s iconic Soya-sauce bottle for Kikkoman, the form of the Boss is synonymous with the brand.

Stabilo Boss Highlighter, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange, Red or Pink: $1.99

And now a more Swipe-o-centric note about highlighters:

Swipe alumni and Canadian art ortus astrum Derek Sullivan has, for several years, collected used copies of one specific college English Lit. text: Gulliver’s Travels. In the process, Sullivan has compiled an informal typology of idiosyncratic highlighting and marginalia, with the patterns of congruity and variation, both academic and personal, standing in for the anonymous reader. How (or if) this material will ever become art remains to be seen. Derek’s work is also the subject of a newly published catalogue, We May Be Standing on the Shoulders of Giants but Some of Us Are Looking at the Stars, which documents a solo exhibition at the Southern Alberta Art Gallery in Lethbridge last spring. Beautifully designed by the ubiquitous The Office of Gilbert Li, the catalogue does surprising justice to Derek’s unassuming oeuvre. (2009: Southern Alberta Art Gallery; ISBN 9781894699426)



We May Be Standing on the Shoulders of Giants but Some of Us Are
Looking at the Stars

2009: Derek Sullivan & Pamela Meredith cdnmapleleaf



To purchase any of the products or titles mentioned here, please visit our downtown Toronto location, call us toll-free at 1-800-56-swipe or e-mail us at:

Environmentally Sound Waste Management

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

Of the big three ecological challenges, garbage, land use, and carbon, garbage is perhaps the most tractable. But what with sorting, streaming, and less frequent collection, home waste management has, of late, become something of a chore. It has also become a bit ugly. Here we offer a selection of attractive garbage receptacles that, while they won’t solve the crisis, will help to make the solution more aesthetically pleasing.


Clothespin Trash Can

? 2007: Hung-Ming Chen

An exceedingly clever design, the flexible spars of this plywood garbage bin adjust to allow one to reuse almost any size bag, paper or plastic. Simple, effective, and economical: get the original now and be justifiably smug when Ikea™ knocks it off at twice the price!



Garbo Eco Trash Can

? 1996: Karim Rashid cdnmapleleaf

Umbra has puts an eco-friendly spin on the 1997 Good Design Awards-winning Garbo trash can by Karim Rashid. Not only is the updated version made of 100% recycled plastic, it’s biodegradable and will likely break down in a landfill long before the garbage it once held.

Umbra Matte Blue Garbo (perfect for home office recycling): $12.95
Umbra Matte Green Garbino (makes a great bathroom organics bin): $7.95


Calypso Compost Bin

? 2008: Rosti Mepal in-house

From classic Dutch / Danish manufacturer Rosti, a compact and stylish lidded compost bin in stain-resistant, dishwasher-safe white melamine. At about 8″ in diameter, it is nicely proportioned for the typical downtown kitchen.


And while we’re on the subject of:


Alphabet City 11: Trash

? 2006: John Knechtel cdnmapleleaf

From the MIT Press, Trash is the eleventh edition of Toronto editor and culture martyr Jon Knechtel’s acclaimed multidisciplinary journal Alphabet City. In a visually arresting volume from undisputed Canadian book design champ, Gilbert Li, a series of high-profile writers, artists, and filmmakers investigate the proposition that we are what we throw away.

Alphabet City 11: Trash: $22.95


To purchase any of the products or titles mentioned here, please visit our downtown Toronto location, call us toll-free at 1-800-56-swipe or e-mail us at: