A Very Swipey Birthday

November 29th, 2012

It’s not every year you turn 25. Especially when you’re an independent, physical bookstore in an increasingly virtual market. But this month we’re passing the quarter-century mark and we couldn’t be more honoured and excited. Without the loyalty of our customers, we couldn’t have reached this point, and we’re more than grateful for your ongoing interest and support.

Today’s Swipe – the light-filled, colourful space cocooned within the 401 Richmond art hub – is a far cry from the mail-order company that co-founders Tina Hadjidimitriou and David Michaelides opened in a Ryerson Avenue office in 1987. Back then, Tina visited creative agencies with catalogues in hand, took orders, and personally delivered the books. The pair opened their first retail store on Berkeley Street in 1989, with a focus squarely on advertising and design.

A successful bid to run the Design Exchange store in 1994 meant a five-and-a-half-year stint as Swipe/indx, with inventory expanding to include objects as well as books: examples of good design – classic, contemporary and notable – by both Canadian and international designers. These were the days of Swipe’s iconic-ad-mimicking campaign by Chiat/Day, under art director Gary Holme. “Our little store isn’t so much of a novelty anymore,” read the Swipe take on the famous “Think small” Volkswagen ad: “In fact, some people who visit our little boutique don’t even think 1,000 books on advertising and design is any big deal.”

Swipe (and its 1,000 books) moved to 477 Richmond Street West in early 2000, and finally relocated to the larger, current space at 401 Richmond Street West in 2008.

Today, Swipe still offers an impressive selection of books on advertising and design (from layout, to marketing, to typography, to textiles), and a diverse collection of design objects. Add to this our extensive range of publications on architecture, green design and urban issues, our high-quality gift items and our carefully chosen books and products for children, and you have one of the most eclectic and idea-packed stores in the city, if not the country. (Possibly the continent?)

So, happy birthday to us! We love what we do, and we’re thrilled to keep doing it. We’re already looking forward to turning 50, and with your continued support, we know it’s just a matter of time!

Canada Sketches in Moleskines

October 23rd, 2012

Starting this month, we’re honoured to be hosting the travelling Canada Sketches exhibition! Ever wish you could peek into the sketchbooks of leading Canadian design and architecture professionals? Earlier this year, IIDEX, the Toronto Society of Architects, and Milan architects Enrico Cleva and Sara Viarengo Cleva collaborated with Moleskine and sent out blank sketchbooks to firms across the country, inviting them to fill the pages with their ideas and inspirations.

Well, (thankfully) they complied. The sketchbooks were filled with a wealth of illustrations, some beautifully detailed and frame-worthy, then showcased at IIDEX’s International Pavilion. And now? They’re here, fresh from the show and for a limited time only in Swipe’s own humble display.

We’ve got sketches from the studios of Bruce Mau Design, Twenty + Change, Yabu Pushelberg, and Diamond Schmitt Architects, to name a few. They’re only staying until the end of November, so come have a glimpse at the creative workings of Canada’s design greats before they’re on the road again.

In the meantime, check out Azure’s post for more details.

Drinking Water, on Tap

July 14th, 2012

Okay, so filling a glass bottle with water and whacking a flip-top seal on it is hardly revolutionary, but the folks at tap water are determined to relegate plastic-bottled water to the annals of shame. Buying bottled water is an indulgence; it’s wasteful; chemicals inevitably leach into what you drink; producing the bottles and breaking them down again uses up a hefty chunk of natural resources; fewer than 20 percent of bottles are actually ever recycled; and it’s bad for the fish (not to mention everything that eats them, including us).

The tap water website has more information on all of this. And we have the tap water bottles. They’re simple, sleek and sturdy, with a clean design. They’re made from resilient but lightweight glass, with strong clasps and rubber seals. And unless you smash them (and you’d have to make an effort), they’re the ultimate in reusability. Available in three sizes – the large 1 litre, the medium 500 ml and the super-cute little 250 ml – they’re equally at home on your dinner table, your office desk or in your handbag or backpack.

So if you’re not already a convert to glass, come and check them out. And if you are, then maybe you can convert a friend. Or a co-worker. Or your parents.

tap water bottle, large (1 L / 32 oz): $19.95
tap water bottle, medium (500 ml / 17 oz): $14.95
tap water bottle, small (250 ml / 9 oz): $11.95

The F-Word, Manifested

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

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

Open Them There Doors, Toronto

May 24th, 2012

Once again, Doors Open Toronto is just around the corner, and once again, we here at Swipe are thankful to be part of the extraordinary arts and culture complex at 401 Richmond Street West. A prime destination during the festival, 401 is expecting a surge of visitors over the weekend of May 26 and 27. Accordingly, Swipe will also open its doors all weekend: on Saturday from 10am to 6pm, and on Sunday from 10am to 5pm.

In celebration of this celebration of our city’s cultural, social and architectural heritage, we’ll be updating our blog with a rundown of current Torontoniana, beginning with a brand-new release from Toronto’s own Coach House Books that documents the changing facades of this city’s streets. Featuring the photographic work of Patrick Cummins, with text by Toronto flâneur Shawn Micallef, Full Frontal T.O.: Exploring Toronto’s Architectural Vernacular chronicles thirty years of local shift and change. (2012: Coach House Books; ISBN 9781551098913)

The book is available at Swipe for $24.95, and until May 31, you can also visit the Urbanspace Gallery’s free Full Frontal T.O. exhibition, with large-scale versions of many of the photographs on display.

Full Frontal T.O.: Exploring Toronto’s Architectural Vernacular
2012: Patrick Cummins and Shawn Micallef
$24.95

2G : International Architecture Review from Barcelona (As Opposed to 2G, Gary Glitter’s Third Studio Album)

May 10th, 2012

Launched in 1997, 2G International Architecture Review, from Barcelona-based Editorial Gustavo Gili, has, in the short time since its introduction, become the most respected chronicle of contemporary architecture. Each issue is divided into three sections. The first two offer a critical examination of the work of a single architect, beginning with an introductory essay by renowned critics and colleagues, and followed by an in-depth presentation of 10 to 15 representative projects documented with full-page photographs and detailed plans and elevations. The final section, called Nexus, provides the featured architect an opportunity to write about their own work and to present their ideas as they see fit. Thus, 2G offers a unique opportunity to contrast the architect’s stated intent with critical interpretations of their work.

2G #60: Lacaton & Vassal
? 2012: Iñaki Abalos, Anne Lacaton, Jean-Philippe Vassal & Karine Dana

With a professional career of more than twenty years behind them, French architects Anne Lacaton & Jean Philippe Vassal, to whom 2G devoted an issue of in 2001, continue to pursue their own coherent, personal approach to architecture. Theirs is a position far removed from formal originality, being based, instead, on an ethical conception that upholds the essential idea of the architect’s social responsibility. Lacaton & Vassal have constructed a discourse of their own that, although seemingly simple, embraces the complexity of contemporary reality. (2012: Editorial Gustavo Gili; ISBN 9788425223457)

2G #58/59: Kazuo Shinohara
? 2011: Enric Massip-Bosch, David B. Stewart, Shin-Ichi Okuyama & Kazuo Shinohara

Kazuo Shinohara (1925-2006) has proved to be the most influential architect of his generation in shaping contemporary Japanese architecture. Shinohara carefully selected the photographs and texts that accompanied each project, and even refused Gustavo Gili’s first proposal in 2001 to revisit and photograph his buildings. This publication has only been possible after his death in 2006, thanks to the generosity of the heirs. This double issue of 2G focuses solely on his single-family homes and is the result of a long process of research to identify the site and condition of each of the houses. Some no longer exist, others have been altered considerably, but fortunately the majority remains and have been photographed exclusively for 2G by the Japanese photographer Hiroshi Ueda. Spanish/English. (2011: Editorial Gustavo Gili; ISBN 9788425224140)

2G #55: Robbrecht and Daem
? 2010: Ivona Blazwick, William Mann & Paul Robbrecht

Paul Robbrecht and Hilde Daem have been active as architects in the Belgian city of Ghent since 1975. Their buildings address different typologies, from cultural buildings, spaces for art and public spaces to conversions of old offices, in which painstaking construction with traditional materials and schemes that are simple in layout and of great spatial richness inscribe their work within a certain central-European tradition of the ordinary. Issue 55 presents eighteen projects by Robbrecht en Daem, fifteen of them built, which extend from public spaces for various Belgian cities (Antwerp, Ghent and Knokke) and urban amenities of major importance like Bruges Concert Hall to small projects inserted in the landscape, like a cabin the woods, a pair of observation towers and a dovecote. English/Spanish. (2010: Editorial Gustavo Gili; ISBN 9788425223747)

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2G #54: Joao Vilanova Artigas
? 2010: Joao Vilanova, Guilherme Wisnik & Kenneth Frampton

The Brazilian mid-century modernist master, whose poetic constructions built upon the plastic-concrete language of Sao Paulo school of the 1950s. This extensive monograph on his public works and private residences of the 1940s through 70s illuminate an eclipsed contributor to Brazilian architectural history. English/Spanish. (2010: Editorial Gustavo Gili; ISBN 9788425223532)

2G #52: Sauerbruch Hutton
? 2010: Barry Bergdoll, Louisa Hutton, Matthias Sauerbruch & Philip Ursprung

Dividing their time between London and Berlin, Matthias Sauerbruch and Louisa Hutton are known for a practice that eschews the straight line and a muted palette, designing curvaceous buildings with bold, bright colours. (2010: Editorial Gustavo Gili; ISBN 9788425223365)

$59.95

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2G #51: MGM Morales Giles Mariscal
? 2009: Laurent Beaudouin, Sara de Giles, Jose Morales & Carlos Muro

This issue examines the work of another iconoclastic regional practice: in this case the Sevillean studio MGM Arquitectos. In both their high-density residential projects and public buildings, MGM infuses a distinctly contemporary architecture with the traditional interplay of interior and exterior space typical of Andalusian architecture. (2009: Editorial Gustavo Gili; ISBN 9788425223143)

$59.95

2G #50: Sou Fujimoto
? 2009: Toyo Ito & Julian Worrall

Sou Fujimoto is the most representative practitioner of a distinctively Japanese style in contemporary architecture which incorporates traditional Japanese attitudes toward nature and the relationship between interior and exterior space. Fujimoto is one of the youngest architects to be profiled in 2G, and his work has been restricted primarily to smaller residential projects and a variety of conceptual exercises. The issue features a critical assessment by renowned Japanese architect Toyo Ito, in many ways Fujimoto’s conceptual antecedent. (2009: Editorial Gustavo Gili; ISBN 9788425222931)

$59.95

2G #48–49: Mies van der Rohe : Houses
? 2009: Beatriz Colomina, Moises Puente & Hans Christian

This double issue focuses an aspect of Mies’ body of work that, up to now, has been poorly documented. All of Mies’ single-family dwellings, in both Germany and the United States, are examined in new commissioned photos from Hans-Christian Schink, along with the original drawings and other archival material. Essays by Beatriz Colomina and Moises Puente provide critical context and a special section catalogues the known unbuilt residential projects. (2009: Editorial Gustavo Gili; ISBN 9788425221880)

$129.95

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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: info@swipe.com.

Unclog with CLOG

April 24th, 2012

Ever feel depressed at the amount of garbage spewing forth from TV, the internet, social networking sites, CNN news flashes, digital media in general? Toppling out of screens and smart phones into living rooms, streetcars, gallery openings, intimate dinner conversations… We at Swipe can’t really talk: we blog, we tweet, we facebook, we’re total hypocrites. Well, Kyle May and the team at CLOG have decided to paddle out of the digital maelstrom, one cleanly printed magazine issue at a time. (Okay, so they do have a website in order to promote their work, but let’s not get too nit-picky here.)

Their aim with CLOG is to cut the noise. Focus. Pay attention to one thing at a time, and do it properly. From their website: “CLOG slows things down. Each issue explores, from multiple viewpoints and through a variety of means, a single subject particularly relevant to architecture now. Succinctly, on paper, away from the distractions and imperatives of the screen.”

We think we might be in love.

Issue No. 1, BIG, sold out rapidly and is now out of print. Issue No. 2, APPLE, is still available at the time of writing, though happily trotting off our shelves and out the door. We await issue No. 3, DATA SPACE, with anticipation. (If you’d like a call or email when it arrives, drop us a line to avoid disappointment.)

CLOG: BIG (No. 1): $24.95 (SOLD OUT)
CLOG: APPLE (No. 2): $24.95

Swipe at the Images Festival

April 14th, 2012

At last year’s Images Festival, we held a shared pop-up store with Pages, in the Art Bar at the Gladstone Hotel. This year, we’re on our own turf in the 401 Richmond building, with a great selection of film-based books, DVDs and artists’ catalogues available for sale (including a number of imported and really-quite-hard-to-find titles). They’re here for a limited time only, so come and get them while you can.

Find us in the Images Festival “hub” in the Urbanspace Gallery, Suite 119, right next to Swipe headquarters. The pop-up store is open 12pm to 6pm daily throughout the festival, April 12 to 21. (Swipe itself, of course, is open regular Swipe hours, plus Sunday 15 April just for fun.)

Toronto’s second oldest film festival, the Images Festival had its beginnings in 1987 and is now the largest of its kind in North America for experimental and independent moving image culture. This is its 25th year. Visit the Images Festival website for more information, a listing of this year’s events, or to explore their exhibition archive.

What Was That Sound? Not This Watch.

April 5th, 2012

It’s sleek, it’s chic, and best of all, it won’t make embarrassing noises in public. In fact, it won’t make any sound at all. Mutewatch is just that: gorgeously silent.

The love child of Mutewatch company partner Johan Thelander and industrial design consultancy Norra Norr, this Swedish-designed timepiece artfully conceals function behind form. The LED display is invisible unless motion activated; the flat screen is also a touch screen, allowing you to tap and swipe through the functions for clock, alarm and timer with ease; and the alarm noiselessly (but effectively) vibrates, so you can wake yourself up or stay time-savvy without annoying those around you.

Want more cleverness? There are no fiddly batteries to insert or replace. Just plug in the included USB connector, charge for a couple of hours, and Mutewatch runs happily for around a week.

Made from a strong, flexible TPU, it features an adjustable “one size” wristband (it fits wrists from 14 cm to 18.5 cm), and the company even offers firmware upgrades to keep you and your Mutewatch up to the minute.

Swipe is thrilled to be the very first Canadian retailer to stock this work of art, which now graces wrists from New York, to Copenhagen, to Dubai. We have limited stock available in Charcoal Grey and Poppy Red, priced at $299.95.

Come by when you’re next in downtown Toronto and have a look. We’ll even let you touch it.

Mutewatch: $299.95