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A flower growing in a crack of the concrete. This project is like that; finding unanticipated beauty in the urban landscape, inviting a moment of pause and response.
The search for these small offerings is an open invitation to explore and play. In 2010, we launched Finders Keepers, creating and tagging 300 red, magnetic ceramic hearts
on Granville Island in Vancouver. Those who found them, kept or gave them to loved ones. It became a scavenger hunt with a huge following.
The enthusiasm for that project sparked the next venture: to design a similar creative experience on a much larger scale, while using an object with depth of context. Rather
than making something ourselves like before, we opted to source vintage ceramic tiles, the value of which goes beyond their attractive appearance, telling the story of long-
standing traditions of use in architecture around the world.
The tiles have taken to the streets! They are now being dispersed throughout specific neighbourhoods in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. A special thanks to our helpers in each of these cities–we couldn’t have done it without you!
The photos below are just the tip of the iceberg of the many mini installations. Send us your photos if you are one of the lucky finders!
TORONTO: GO OUT AND FIND THEM NOW! The Queen West area all the way up to College, are well-covered. Leslieville and Harbourfront areas were hit as well.
MONTREAL: Le Plateau – Laurier area. Tiles were placed January 30th-31st. We know from our watchers that there are still a lot of them out there to be found!
VANCOUVER: Mount Pleasant – Main Street area, Granville Island, and more to come! February 14th-18th
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TORONTO DESIGN OFFSITE FESTIVAL
We were happy to have “Patchworked In Canada” displayed at the Toronto Design Offsite Festival hub from the 20th to the 26th of January. “TO DO” is an independent design festival happening annually at the end of January, whose aim is to provide exposure for local and national designers.
Hosted at the hub of Toronto Design Offsite Festival at: Bosley Real Estate Ltd. 1108 Queen Street West Toronto, Ontario M6J 1H9 January 20th to the 26th Hours of Operation: Mon-Fri: 3-7pm, Sat: 12-7pm, Sun: 12-5pm
Our promotional postcards–designed for those too far away to join in the search for tiles. The card is perforated to break apart into 12 individual tiles (front and back) that can be passed around, tagged with, or used as coasters.
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Our search for vintage tiles led us to faraway Portugal, the pinnacle of architectural tile. For us, with a fondness and extensive backgrounds in ceramics, spending
time in exploration there was something of a ceramic paradise. One of the highlights for us was spending time at the source of the tiles on the outskirts of Lisbon.
Here was the lifetime collection of Mr. Cortiço—hundreds of thousands of discontinued tiles from all the ceramics factories of Portugal. Without discretion, he had
accepted all tiles that came his way, from the finest crafted rare beauties to the cheapest kitschiest scraps.
The farm was arranged in perfect chaos; building after building filled from floor to ceiling of stacks of tiles. There were so many that piles had to be made outside
as well, leaving narrow pathways throughout the several acre farm. Grasses grew over them, animals lived in them, and the world forgot them.
Context is everything. In colourful tile-laden Portugal, these dust-covered treasures were of little use. But once the tiles were cleaned off, shipped to Canada,
handled dozens of times by us, and refired with golden details on top, they became hard-to-part-with treasures. In the predominantly concrete urban landscapes
of Canada, the tiles shine in contrast.
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Funded by Canada Council for the Arts and in development now for over two years, the Patchworked process has been a labour of love (in which we
questioned our sanity at every step). After making our final selections from the “tile farm,” we spent many days packing them and a stressful three months
waiting for the uninsurable shipment of the tiles to arrive from Lisbon.
Since that initial phase, many followed, starting with designing the mural as a whole, which took on several forms before its finalization. As we worked with the tiles
we thought back to the streets of Lisbon. There, when tiles broke off the walls of buildings, they would be replaced with other tiles—often completely different in colour
and vintage. Sometimes they were even replaced by the painted stencils of tiles in their place. It created a sort of patchwork on the walls of the city, indicating the layers
of time. As we arranged our collection at our studio in Vancouver, another kind of patchwork emerged.
The next many steps included washing, photographing, numbering, cutting, stamping, magnetizing, packing and shipping. Many of the tiles were also refired
with 24K gold decals for some lucky finders. By the end, we had formed a relationship with each piece, making their imminent gifting all the more personal.
24K gold decals
Planning decal arrangements
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Another uninsurable trip back East