Editor’s note: This feature story was published in spring 2015. For up-to-date info, refer to our Saudade store listing.
Offering classic and modern imported-from-the-motherland wares, this Little Portugal home accessories store is the perfect addition to a neighbourhood that’s already balancing mom-and-pops with trendy hipster bars.
In designing the shop, Qanūk Interiors Inc. drew inspiration from Portuguese architecture, incorporating recessed wall niches, blue and white tiling, moulded reliefs and an antique chandelier – traditional elements that lend the space the opulence of old-world Lisbon.
Owners Nancy Fernandes and Connie Freitas grew up with many of the products they now stock. Handwoven reed market bags by Toino Abel, for example, are identical to the ones Fernandes once packed her swimsuit and towel into for mother-daughter trips to the pool. With so much history on display, Saudade is the perfect name for the pair’s store: the word means an intense longing for another person, place or time.
Shop here for: Fresh takes on heritage-rich designs. Textile label Burel repurposes fabric intended for shepherd’s capes – and still manufactured on 19th-century machines – for vibrant pillows and throws (from $50 and $100, respectively). Meanwhile, Around the Tree pays homage to the metal Gonçalo chair, which debuted in 1953 and still dots cafés throughout Europe. In this iteration, woodworker Alexandre Caldas reimagines his grand-father’s much-loved design in rich walnut ($950).
Best bet: Cork. Among Portugal’s top exports, it’s here in numerous and unexpected ways. The Seed chair, for one thing, ups the ante on Eames’ dowel-legged, poly-propylene classic with a super comfortable cork seat ($700). Most notable is the contemporary version’s sustainability: cork trees fully regrow their bark every nine years. For a pocket-sized purchase, opt for a bar of soap (from $10). Made with cork sap, each is wrapped in elaborate paper packaging that further proves Portugal’s commitment to great design at every scale.