Mjölk / by Didier Young

Milk. From infancy, we have known the importance of this opalescent beverage. As mammals, it is the first form of food that we ingest. It contains all the nutrients that we need to develop and build a strong immune system during the time of our life where we are devoid of teeth. Our relationship with milk does not stop there: as we progress into adulthood, we continue to consume milk as it is a fantastic source of calcium which is needed to keep our skeletal strong. Milk is a substance that has so much character and strength despite its unassuming looks. How adequate was it then, that when Juli and John Baker decided to open their minimal dream of a store, they chose to name it after this primordial liquid.

Following their dreams, the married duo opened shop in the Toronto Junction neighbourhood in 2009. Given the striking Scandinavian feel of their aesthetic, it came to no surprise that they chose to name their store after the Swedish version of milk, Mjölk. However do not be fooled: the store does not only carry Scandinavian designs. While perusing Mjölk on a quiet Monday morning, an enthusiastic John recounted the origins and stories behind each item in the store. From a small vintage Korean vase traditionally repaired with gold to the 1788 Easy Chair designed by Danish designer Hans Jørgensen Wegner in 1963 which remains a classic piece in the history of modern design. The presence of Japan, Scandinavian aesthetic’s honorary cousin, is also fully recognizable throughout the shop.

Mjölk’s dedication to the artisans it represents goes beyond simply selling their works to a cultured audience. Every so often, the store will act as a canvas for the artists to showcase their art. In some cases, the store was transformed into a literal canvas as in the case of the Norihiko Terayama “My Garden” exhibition in 2013, where part of the floor was clad in a variety of floral specimens that were visible to passers by. While the porcelain works of Renaud Sauvé, the last exhibition at Mjölk to date, are still featured prominently in an antiquated hutch, design fanatics will have to wait a little bit before the new show hits the floors of the well curated shop. Remnants of the past shows are still available in store where the owners will gladly, and lovingly, recount their stories if you were to ask them. 

Mjölk is not simply a shop: it is a lifestyle destination and the place that every minimalist would aspire to call home. Good design and quality come at a price: think of it as an investment towards your own curated space. Much like one shouldn't cry over spilled milk, one should not be afraid to spend at Mjölk.

-Didier