“Design is creativity with strategy”
– Rob Curedale
Located right in the heart of the Queen Street West District, at 165 John Street to be more precise, Umbra
is a Toronto-based, original, creative, innovative and modern home ware company who has been designing and producing one of a kind, modern ware for the past 35 years. Its products are so popular and in demand that they are now being sold in 120 countries around the world!
During my visit to Toronto last month, I visited their flagship and concept store which is only a block north of Queen Street
where the stunning pink rectangular building was planned and built by Kohn Shnier Architects in 2007. If the exterior is quite a sight, just imagine what awaits inside!
As I entered the store, I read on the left side of the main entrance the story behind the company.
One day, a graphic designer, Paul Rowan, was not able to find a nice window shade to hang in his apartment window. Thus, he decided to create one and showed it to his friends and they liked it very much.
He decided to talk about it to his childhood friend, Les Mandelbaum, and together they founded Umbra which in Latin means “shade”. Both friends let their imagination soar and gave everyday items a brand new look, color and made them into modern ware.
Their hard work paid off and the company is recognized the world over for putting life and making regular items design chic, practical and surprisingly very affordable!
What differentiates Umbra from other companies is that they have on site a team of designers who let their creativity flow and come up with original designs that make life easier while being stylish and unique. Their products are not manufactures by the millions and remain lifeless once they hit the shelves. On the contrary, these are works of art and the designers put their time, effort, energy and personal touch to them!
Their final products, full Umbra and Umbra Shift collections, are displayed in the store and each product has the name of the designer on a tag. How cool is that?
Guests are encouraged to touch and feel the assortment of original products and interact with the store associates as well as product designers who can be found upstairs in the design studio!
That’s exactly where I started my tour! As you know I am a very curious and visual person, therefore I went up the set of stairs leading to the second floor.
I loved the bright and vivid colors and shape of the chairs, desk and I imagined how great my office would be if I picked items from the Umbra Shift collection. That’s working in style and comfort!
Next thing I know, I turned around and couldn’t believe my eyes. One of the co-founders, Mr. Rowan, was actually in the store at the time of my visit, so my cool guide Corrianna introduced me to him. As I would react before any rock star, I felt a bit nervous but very happy to be in his presence and all I could utter was “your store is incredible” and the rest well I think my mind went blank for a minute or two 🙂
There was a designer present and at work and behind them was the wall of creations, where prototypes or original ideas are displayed and we can see what process they go through before they come to fruition or become a real product ready to be sold to the public.
It truly is amazing to see all the steps in order to bring a product to life, starting from an idea spark.
The end result is just brilliant and ready to be shown to the world!
After touring the second floor, I went down to the first floor for more, eye candy that is.
Now you may or not know this but I just LOVE getting lost in furniture, décor, art stores anywhere I go and I was just in heaven. My eyes were wandering from floor to ceiling, east to west and didn’t even know where to begin. It was as if I was a kid at a candy store 🙂
There are so many goodies on display that you go from section to section and entice your senses!
How cool are these clocks? Can someone tell me what time it is?
Have the butterflies?
Is anyone up for a chess game?
Everything you need to stay hooked and in place 🙂
The following sure is true: “There is a place for everything and everything is in its place”.
Having guests over and need to cook? Have everything you need at hand!
Now picture this. Putting your most precious memories on the wall thanks to these great photo frames!
This made my heart swoon and my fellow travel lovers will agree too right? 🙂
This was definitely my favorite section in the store. I sure have enough photos from my many travels around the world to create my own gallery at home 🙂
If you are in the process of decorating or redecorating or simply looking to buy gifts for friends or even yourself, stop by Umbra (or browse their selections on their beautiful website) enjoy walking around the store and don’t leave empty-handed!
I sure didn’t! Want to see what I got after going around a few times? 🙂
From top left: a wine bottle stopper, a small black photo frame, a jewelry organizer (in the shape of an envelope) a small golden frame, a cool business card holder (in the shape of a camera) and a vanity bag (in blue, my favorite color) which will definitely be put to good use on my next trip!
Trust me, if I could I would fill a shopping cart and I would do my Christmas shopping in the summer, it’s that good 🙂
Thanks to its creativity, originality, exclusivity, we now understand how Umbra has become a globally known Canadian brand 🙂
I invite you to browse their product line on the following channels online:
I would like to thank the friendly staff at Umbra for welcoming me and for giving me a tour of the store!
Now over to you,
Are you a design fan?
Do you treat yourself and buy original products and where?
I can’t wait to read all about it, so please do share your stories!
Until next time!
Tashi Delek, All the best