Dupont Design District

Designers  Walk has been a long-entrenched destination for furniture, accessories, lighting and other design staples in Toronto but, in recent years, a new design district has emerged just west of it, along Dupont Street. Historically an Italian-Greek neighbourhood with a distinct industrial feel, it’s quietly accruing condos and luxury homes; in the process, new design shops are popping up at a rapid pace. Tatiana Velasevic, owner of the just-turned-one Pimlico Design Gallery, maintains that “it’s replacing Designer’s Walk as the design destination.” Don’t take Velasevic’s word for it, though: Check out this roundup of Dupont’s latest and greatest.

Designers Walk
It’s located slightly south of Dupont, just over on Bedford Street, but Designers Walk likely gave birth to the fertile stretch of interior and industrial design shops. Not so much a store as a behemoth centre of thriving showrooms, architecture firms and resource centres, DW comprises five buildings, over fifty companies, and everything from appliances to home and office furnishing to lighting and everything in between. Open since 1980, it’s a one-stop shop of high-end design, and many people do stop there; still, that shouldn’t stop you from taking a stroll westward along Dupont to check out some of the newer company it keeps. 168 Bedford Rd., 416-961-1211

G.H. Johnson’s Trading Company
Despite origins in Ottawa way back in 1946, G.H. Johnson’s Trading Co.’s right at home at Dupont and Dovercourt… providing that you can find it. There may not be signage, but this huge warehouse-like showroom has everything you need for the whole house, without the pain of shopping around. With its own product line along with wares from American, European and Asian manufacturers, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. Then again, whether your tastes in home design are conservative, or whether they lean newer and edgier, chances are you’ll be able to find it. Just make sure you find the store, first. 950 Dupont Street, 416-532-6700

Angus and Company
Open since 2000, Angus and Company was one of the trailblazers of high-end design on Dupont. The two-story shop aims for “sophisticated general store” and meets it, capably, with a dimly-lit space full of unique accessories and functional, often little, art pieces. Not necessarily the place to go for all-encompassing interior design, but a good place to find glassware, chandeliers and other fine finishing touches. 647 Dupont St., 416-537-4104.

Commute Home
If you’ve ever eaten dinner at Terroni on Queen or Colborne Lane or Nyood — two of Toronto’s more stylish restaurants — then you’ve seen some of the design of Commute Home [pictured]. Take a visit to the Dupont storefront and you can see where those funky, old-school designs came to fruition. Littered with weathered materials, prototype bits of furniture and all sorts of funky fixtures, it’s as much a developing centre as it is a retail environment. You can practically feel the trendiness wafting off the walls. 367 Dupont St., 416-861-0521.

Pimlico Design Gallery
Owner Tatiana Velasevic took Pimlico Design Gallery’s name from another fashionable design district — that one in London, England — but did so because she recognized Dupont’s potential. The strip’s shaping up nicely, due in no small part to Velasevic’s store, which fosters creativity by giving preference to young designers. “That’s a key ingredient,” she says, “Sourcing young talent that will get recognition in the future.” In the present, this amounts to small-run, one-of-a-kind, functional art at affordable prices (that you can later resell for much more). 789 Dupont St., 416-538-0909.

Peaks and Rafters
DIY types in cottage country have known about Peaks and Rafters for a while, due to its original Port Carling showroom. As of about a week ago, the company has made a home at Dupont and Manning. Like its Muskoka parent, the store specializes in high-end furniture, lighting, linens and throws, but it’s a little more geared towards city life than country life. If you’re looking for the new kid on the block, this is it. 585 Dupont St., 647-350-3500.

Image courtesy of Commute Home.

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