Go Here: Reford Gardens

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Le rocher très percé at the International Garden Festival. Photo by Martin Bond

Recently, before I made a 12-hour drive east from Toronto to Grand-Métis, Que., I was warned by several people that cell signal would be scarce. The tiny village – population 237 – sits at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River and has many amenities for summer tourists, including clapboard cottages and quaint inns along the coast (the Centre d’art Marcel Gagnon is a nice auberge). But a surfeit of cell towers isn’t one of them.

Rather than being a point of frustration, though, the lack of digital connectivity is something that the area’s main attraction, the enchanting Reford Gardens, seems to be revelling in. There is no WiFi in the park (whose French name is the Jardins de Métis), all the better to appreciate the groves of purple lilacs and fields of blue poppies.

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Oh Heyyy, Charles Spencer

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Charles Spencer as a young man

Earl Charles Spencer, Princess Diana’s baby brother and the father of royal fan-favourite Lady Kitty Spencer, is a busy man. He just became a great-uncle to Prince Louis, had a golden ticket to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding and, one week later, was at Toronto’s Kennedy Galleries to unveil a new set of furniture for the Living History collection based on antiques from Althorp Estate, where he and Diana lived as children. Here, he talks about being raised in a Downton Abbey-esque manse, and updating heirloom furniture for modern bums.

Growing up at Althorp as a young boy, were there any rules about playing on the furniture?
Yes, my grandfather was a formidable figure. He was relic of the pre-First World World era, and he cared more about the house than people. He would give very strict lectures. We basically couldn’t touch anything. It was quite scary to be honest. But when I took over as a young man, at 27, I let my children have the run of the place. Of course I didn’t let my kids play with porcelain or things that would break. But actually, for the house, I think it is better if it is enjoyed as a home.

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Meet Someone Awesome: Quil Lemons

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The boys of Glitterboy. Photography by Quil Lemons

Glitterboy, the ongoing photo series by 20-year-old artist Quil Lemons, features portraits of young, Black men with metallic, sparkly flecks on their cheeks and foreheads. All shot against soft pink backdrops, the subjects express a range of moods and feelings. One named Jordun smiles from ear to ear, while Harley gazes coyly and Myles stares starkly at the viewer, as if to ask the question: why are you looking at me just because I’m wearing cosmetics?

The answer to that has been jarringly mixed. Lemons, who often wears glitter on his own cheeks (“it’s cool when you see it in the sun,” he says), first started posting images of Glitterboy on his Twitter and Instagram accounts in 2017. Since then, the reception has ranged from love — Vogue, Allure and i-D have all given glowing reviews — to anger.

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Millennials Are Buying Cottages (Seriously)

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Like many people in their late 20s and early 30s, Heather Payne and her husband, Shawn Konopinsky, are bright, ambitious and successful – but they don’t own the place where they live with their one-year-old baby. Instead, they own a cottage.

For the past five years, they have rented their apartment in the downtown Toronto neighbourhood of Parkdale, joining the 50 per cent of millennials who are still renting their homes by age 30, according to the 2016 census data, compared with the 45 per cent of boomers who hadn’t bought their place by the same age.

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Go Here: Rotterdam

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There are certain charms that North Americans hope for when visiting a Western European town or city: café-lined squares, gingerbread buildings, cobblestonedstreets that twist and turn in every direction.

Arriving in Rotterdam, then, can be unsatisfying, at least at first. Glass-and-steel skyscrapers shoot up from wide, razor-straight, car-filled boulevards. On the surface, everything looks distressingly familiar.

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Life in the Closet Can Be Pretty Good!

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Life in the closet. Photo by Peter Andrew Lusztyk

As a child, the fictional Harry Potter lived in a closet under the stairs. Stella Pak-Guenette can relate. The 11-year-old Torontonian also resides in a closet, her bed tucked beneath a set of open risers.

Though unlike the wizarding prodigy’s cramped, infamous digs, which were the result of familial mistreatment, it’s hard to believe that Stella’s pad is technically a storage space, expertly renovated as it has been. Continue reading

Weezer’s Pacific Daydream

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Weezer

Curiously, when Weezer – the geek rock group responsible making awkward cool decades before anyone had ever heard of Jesse Eisenberg – announce a new record, their fans tend to experience existential terror, not unabashed glee. In the 25 years since founding, their results are always an anxiety-producing unknown. Such is the case with their eleventh studio effort, Pacific Daydream, out at the end of October.

Will the record be iconic and influential like their first two albums, the Blue Album and Pinkerton, whose songs about rejection from girls, struggles with alcoholic stepfathers and all things nerd (X-men, Dungeons & Dragons) inspired a generation of socially awkward boys to feel more and a generation of punk-pop, emo and alt-rock bands to memorialize their failed attempts to get laid? Or will it be utterly rejected, like 2010’s Hurley, which was so abhorrent to one fan that he attempted to raise $10 million to pay the band to stop making records entirely? (He was unsuccessful.)

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Machine Learning: How Tech Is Changing Design

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Merel Bekking’s ‘brain-scan’ chair

Computer-aided design, or CAD, programs are as new to the world as bell-bottom pants and disco. Architects and designers started trading in their mechanical pencils and drafting tables in the 1970s – around the same time computerized dating started to vie for the place traditionally held by boozy nightclubs and well-meaning matchmakers (hi, grandma).

These days, though, the technology has been updated so drastically that it would be hard to compare the current incarnations to its predecessors (it would be a bit like putting a Tesla next to a Pinto). More than merely assisting creative professionals draw out their ideas, software programs are now helping generate the very ideas and products themselves. Computers are coming up with building layouts, package designs and furniture that are as creative or better than what humans can envision on their own.

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The New Tattoo: Murals

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Gurl, Smile

The history of self-expression is marked by subversive art forms that turn mainstream and gain broader popularity (punk rock, Kim Kardashian). Street art is perhaps the latest, with homeowners choosing to deck their piles, both inside and out, with graffiti-like paintings – as opposed to power-washing it away in a hail of soap suds. Intricately patterned, brightly coloured murals are the new tattoo: architecture-scaled announcements of the personalities and passions of the people inside.

Andrea Manica is a mural painter based in Toronto. She is often commissioned to paint garage doors and fences in the alleyways that twist through the city’s residential neighbourhoods. In part, she says, her clients are motivated to have the art as a way to control the look of a surface that is likely to be covered in graffiti whether they like it or not. It’s their way of having “meaningful or beautiful graffiti,” she says, preventing the kind of senseless, scrawling tags that often mar urban spaces.

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Meet Someone Awesome: Joe Gebbia

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Airbnb zillionaire Joe Gebbia

Joe Gebbia is an up-and-coming furniture designer who should not quit his day job. Not because he isn’t talented. His first collection of office seating and tables, Neighborhood, recently debuted at the prestigious International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York, and it’s great – modular furniture that looks sharp enough to sit in a chic living room.

Instead, it’s because Gebbia’s day job just happens to be changing the worlds of travel and business. He is the 35-year-old co-founder and chief product officer at Airbnb. Since launching the home-sharing company in 2008 with two friends, he’s convinced over three million homeowners in 191 countries to open their doors to strangers, helped hundreds of millions of tourists more affordably travel the globe, built a business worth over $30-billion (U.S.) and spurred a new form of economy – the sharing economy.

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