Category Archives: Housewares

Material (Dis)Honesty

Despite recent suggestions that irony is dead, we’ve recently seen a minor flood of products wherein the key design concept is an ironic shift from one material to another. Early examples include the Happy to Serve You coffee cup, a ceramic version of the iconic New York City diner paper cup, and several quasi-art pieces from the often clever Vancouver-born designer Tobias Wong. More recent examples typically retain a familiar form (the plastic water bottle or the paper cup) while replacing an environmentally dubious material with something more acceptable or, at least, less disposable. Others seem to juxtapose a mundane or malevolent form against a more refined or benevolent function. While we reserve judgment on the enduring cultural significance of these products, we are obliged to acknowledge that they strike a chord, with I Am Not a Paper Cup being among our all-time best-selling gift items.


I Am Not a Paper Cup, Ceramic Coffee Cup
? 2007: James Burgess

Almost inconceivably popular, this double-walled porcelain cup, with its silicone drinking lid, is virtually indistinguishable from its disposable paper analogue. An odd mix of the advantages and disadvantages of both the paper cup and the ceramic mug that you will either love or find annoying on every level. Either way, it is dishwasher safe.


also available are:

I Am Not a Paper Cup Lids

These silicone lids fit both the I.A.N.A.P.C. and a standard “Grande” paper cup.

Set of 3: $11.95


We Are Happy To Serve You, Ceramic Cup
? 1963 (2003): Leslie Buck & Graham Hill

Created in 1963 by the Sherri Cup Company (now a division of Solo), more than 180,000,000 Greek key Anthora (sic.) cups are carried out of New York delis and coffee shops annually. It can be spotted in virtually any film or television that features an authentic-looking New York cop and a cup of joe. In 2003 Exception Lab began producing a ceramic version of this quintessential New York icon. Dishwasher friendly and certified lead free.



Seletti Porcelain Estetico Quotidiano (Daily Aesthetics) Line
? 2007: Design Selab & Alessandro Zambelli

From their website and product lines, one gets the impression that Seletti and Design Selab would like to think of themselves as the Italian ‘Droog’. Their Estetico Quotidiano series of porcelain and borosilicate glass serving items appropriates the forms of throw-away food and beverage containers to create an ironic table setting. All items are microwave and dishwasher safe.

Glass Water Bottle, 1L: $44.95
Porcelain Detergent Bottle Vase: $59.95
Porcelain Storage Can: $24.95
Porcelain Espresso Coffee Pot: $29.95
Porcelain Coffee Stirrer: $2.95


Fred Worldwide Glassware
? 2009: Liz Goulet Duboi for Fred Studio

The enterprising and prolific Liz Goulet Duboi repurposes the ubiquitous cardboard milk carton and plastic sandwich bag to produce a curious creamer and candy dish in borosilicate glass for Fred Studio.

Half Pint Milk Carton: $19.95
Unzipped Glass Zipper Bag: $29.95

Or, for a more intentioned take on the concept:


Villa Delirium: The Art of Krafft
? 2002: Charles Krafft

A working artist for decades, Charles Krafft (known facetiously as “the oldest promising young artist in Seattle”) finally achieved notoriety in the late 1990s with his “Porcelain War Museum Project”, recreating the AK-47s, pistols, and hand grenades of the Balkans conflict in a series of Delft-painted porcelain objects, produced in collaboration with Slovenian artists collective Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK). The first monograph on this idiosyncratic artist, Villa Delirium samples Krafft’s entire body of work in sixty colour photographs. (2002: Grand Central Press / Last Gasp; ISBN 0867195746)



To purchase any of the products or titles mentioned here, please visit our downtown Toronto location, call us toll-free at 1-800-56-swipe or e-mail us at:

Design Is No Picnic … Except When It Is


Rosti Basic Outdoor Dishes
? 1978: Koen de Winter cdnmapleleaf

As a professor at the Université du Québec à Montréal and President of the Association of Canadian Industrial Designers, Belgium born Koen De Winter has made a profound contribution to the establishment of industrial design as a rigorous profession in Canada. Most recently de Winter has been both designing and manufacturing a beautiful line of ceramic kitchenware and serving pieces under the brand Atelier Orange, subject of a previous Swipe post. Of the several items he designed for Danish housewares manufacturer Rosti, the Basic line of casual dinnerware in melamine, created in 1978, remains in production and is one of the manufacturer’s most popular products. While North Americans consider melamine dishes suitable only on the patio or for camping, in Benelux it is extremely common for families to eat both breakfast and lunch from plastic dishes, and Rosti sells hundreds of thousands of pieces of Basic each year. Having previously won the Design Canada Award, De Winter was, in 2005, honoured with Flanders Design’s Henry van de Velde Career Award, celebrated with a nice little photo gallery on Créativité Montréal.


Large or Deep Plate: $9.95
Breakfast Plate: $8.95
Egg Cup: $2.95
Cup & Saucer or Mug or Soup Cup: $ $7.95
(All are available in white and most in lime green.)


To purchase any of the products or titles mentioned here, please visit our downtown Toronto location, call us toll-free at 1-800-56-swipe or e-mail us at:

Environmentally Sound Waste Management

Of the big three ecological challenges, garbage, land use, and carbon, garbage is perhaps the most tractable. But what with sorting, streaming, and less frequent collection, home waste management has, of late, become something of a chore. It has also become a bit ugly. Here we offer a selection of attractive garbage receptacles that, while they won’t solve the crisis, will help to make the solution more aesthetically pleasing.


Clothespin Trash Can

? 2007: Hung-Ming Chen

An exceedingly clever design, the flexible spars of this plywood garbage bin adjust to allow one to reuse almost any size bag, paper or plastic. Simple, effective, and economical: get the original now and be justifiably smug when Ikea™ knocks it off at twice the price!



Garbo Eco Trash Can

? 1996: Karim Rashid cdnmapleleaf

Umbra has puts an eco-friendly spin on the 1997 Good Design Awards-winning Garbo trash can by Karim Rashid. Not only is the updated version made of 100% recycled plastic, it’s biodegradable and will likely break down in a landfill long before the garbage it once held.

Umbra Matte Blue Garbo (perfect for home office recycling): $12.95
Umbra Matte Green Garbino (makes a great bathroom organics bin): $7.95


Calypso Compost Bin

? 2008: Rosti Mepal in-house

From classic Dutch / Danish manufacturer Rosti, a compact and stylish lidded compost bin in stain-resistant, dishwasher-safe white melamine. At about 8″ in diameter, it is nicely proportioned for the typical downtown kitchen.


And while we’re on the subject of:


Alphabet City 11: Trash

? 2006: John Knechtel cdnmapleleaf

From the MIT Press, Trash is the eleventh edition of Toronto editor and culture martyr Jon Knechtel’s acclaimed multidisciplinary journal Alphabet City. In a visually arresting volume from undisputed Canadian book design champ, Gilbert Li, a series of high-profile writers, artists, and filmmakers investigate the proposition that we are what we throw away.

Alphabet City 11: Trash: $22.95


To purchase any of the products or titles mentioned here, please visit our downtown Toronto location, call us toll-free at 1-800-56-swipe or e-mail us at:

Dinner with HAL

Given Arne Jacobsen’s current stature it is hard to imagine that prior to the present Modernist revival this seminal figure in Twentieth-Century industrial design and architecture was little remembered by non-specialists. In fact, just fifteen years ago if you were looking for Jacobsen’s famous Cylinda Line from Stelton in Toronto your only options were Swipe and the (now defunct) Scandinavian Shoppe on Danforth Avenue. Today the line is readily available around town so we carry only the brilliant little ashtray, Jacobsen’s personal favourite, as a token of respect and affection.


AJ Cutlery

? 1957: Arne Jacobsen

AJ cutlery was designed by Arne Jacobsen in 1957 for the restaurant in the Royal SAS Hotel in Copenhagen, a project on which he was also the architect. Manufactured in stainless steel by Georg Jensen, AJ has been in continuous production since it was designed. With its modern, simplified lines, AJ was deemed a sufficiently radical departure from traditional cutlery design that it was featured as a prop in the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey.

AJ Knife (Serrated Edge): $41.95
AJ Dinner Spoon, Dinner Fork, Dessert Spoon, Luncheon Fork: $31.95
AJ Pastry Fork: $29.95
AJ Tea Spoon: $24.95
AJ Espresso Spoon: $21.95

AJ Cutlery Sets:

AJ 5 Piece Place Setting: $157.95
AJ 30 Piece Setting (for Six): $949.95

AJ Cutlery Serving Pieces:

AJ Serving Fork and Spoon: $127.95
AJ Gravy Ladle: $39.95
AJ Bouillon Spoon, Butter Knife: $36.95
AJ Two-Tined Serving Forks: $44.95
AJ Breakfast Spoon (set of 2): $59.95
AJ Café Latte Spoon (set of 2): $49.95
AJ Cake Server: $71.95


Stelton Cylinda Line Revolving Ashtray

? 1967: Arne Jacobsen

Jacobsen was a notorious pipe-smoker and this ashtray was, in his estimation, the most successful piece in his formative Cylinda Line from Stelton. We concur. Beautifully finished, the piece is a study in aesthetic geometry. Rotate the hemispherical bowl and ashes and cigarette butts drop neatly out-of-sight into the cylindrical base.

Small Revolving Ashtray: $89.95
Large Revolving Ashtray: $129.95

For those interested in Jacobsen’s career, an excellent hardcover monograph entitled Arne Jacobsen: Arkitekt and Designer published by the Danish Design Centre in 1996 is available at Swipe for $69.95.


To purchase any of the products or titles mentioned here, please visit our downtown Toronto location, call us toll-free at 1-800-56-swipe or e-mail us at: