Room 2046 design store and café opens in Summerhill


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We can’t find any scientific proof for this, but we’re guessing there’s some kind of link between caffeine and impulse buying. How else to account for the growing trend of retail stores in Toronto that seem to take coffee as seriously as the goods they’re selling?

A few weeks after über-hip Queen Street clothing store Lavish & Squalor opened an espresso bar on its second floor, a design-store-cum-coffee-shop has opened in Summerhill. Minimalist, airy and decked out in exposed concrete, Room 2046 is every bit a modern design store. And right at the centre is a bar where the barista does latte art and describes the espresso like it’s a fine wine.  

As you walk the store sipping on your high-end coffee (sourced from Social Coffee and Tea Co. in Richmond Hill) you’ll come across an eclectic selection of goods: on the rails at the back there’s womenswear from brands like Juma and Maison; next to that hang a selection of well-tailored shirts for guys; on the opposite wall necklaces dangle from pegs while on the steps in front of them sit Joya vegetable soaps for men ($14) which smell so pleasant that sniffing them is borderline addictive. Dotted around the place is a fun selection of housewares (think slanty mugs and brightly coloured salt and pepper holders) and books (the clear winner in the Work of Staggering Genius category: Scandwich — a tome that shows sandwiches, chopped in half and put on a scanner.)

The store is owned by 29-year-old Kumala S. Nio, a design-lover who has travelled extensively and says she opened the store to bring some of the international brands she likes to Toronto. As well as looking for design and quality, Nio says she’s attracted to brands that have interesting stories. When we are in the store, she starts explaining to a customer how one set of earrings on display was inspired by a bridge in Spain. She also seems to like designers who have had mid-career conversions: she carries Bob Carpenter shirts (the designer once worked as a fonctionnaire in the French Embassy in India), Dos Riberas necklaces (the designer was once an architect) and Maison womenswear (the designer started out studying biology).  

As for the name “Room 2046”? That’s a nod to the work of Wong Kar-wai, an arthouse director from Hong Kong whose works include the movie 2046. But, as Nio points out, “You’d also find everything we sell in a room. So it works like that, too.” 

Room 2046, 1252 Yonge St., 647-348-2046

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