UMBRA 165 John, 416-599-0088 www.umbra.com Rating: NNNNN
Anyone cruising past the construction fence outside the new Umbra store on the afternoon of May 31 would have been oblivious to the glitzy opening-night party in the works for that evening. But if HGTV has taught us anything, it's that the design crowd has perfected the art of the last-minute reveal. Come 7 pm, pretty young things in fuchsia gowns that matched the mod structure's hot pink plastic cladding were tipsily cocktail shuffling through two floors of home accessories and furniture.
Underneath four spiky chandeliers made from chrome Flow lamps with frosted acrylic shades are Umbra's two Canadian-modern lines. Standard fare includes square dinner wear in graphite tones, chartreuse-fabric-covered photo albums and metal stag picture holders. The U+ collection features limited and sustainability-minded pieces like silicone-drenched metal stools and dining tables with reclaimed wood pilaster legs.
Upstairs, you'll find a work station where shoppers can watch one of Umbra's 30-plus designers conceptualize the next high-style tchotchke and a library stocked with hefty design tomes from Ballenford Books on Architecture (600 Markham, 416-588-0800, ww.ballenford.com).
Umbra picks: Michelle Ivankovic's Treehouse bed is anchored by four birch posts made from a single quartered log, $2,000 by special order; a connect-the-dots-style T-shirt by Sativa Turner comes with red yarn so you can stitch together its hidden design, $40; kitty lovers can play poker with cat breed illustrated cards packed in a lime or turquoise case, $8.
Look for: In-store designer appearances, product launches and seminars. Sign up at the checkout for special event notices.
Hours: Monday to Friday 10 am to 9 pm, Saturday 10 am to 7 pm, Sunday 11 am to 6 pm.