We believe in supporting Canadian products, not for the sake of it, but because our nation boasts some of the most top-notch brands and designers in the world. This week, an eccentric coffeehouse in Midtown that also retails Canadian-designed custom carpets, handcrafted by artisans in India.
“Carpets are pieces of art and an amazing way to express yourself,” says Shawn Grainger, an owner at Toronto’s Thirty Six Knots luxury rug and decor store. At Thirty Six Knots – which occupies prime real estate in the city’s affluent Summerhill neighborhood (1212 Yonge St.) – coffee art is also on offer. “Besides our love for the artistry behind handmade carpets, we wanted to create a place for a community; a place where you feel welcome buying a cup of coffee, or the most delicate and intricate area rug imaginable,” says Grainger. “Our goal was to create a space that became your home.”
Thirty Six Knots opened up shop in December 2018, offering local residents and business professionals a new spot for design inspiration, lunch and their morning coffee or juice. Inside the sprawling 6,000-square-foot showroom are eye-catching rugs of varying sizes, intricacies and price points, along with other well-curated décor items from some 40 coveted brands. The company name is a nod to the culture and tradition of rug making, referencing the 36 symmetrical knots per square centimetre that characterize the ancient ceremonial Pazyryk rug.
“The company really came from our love for designer carpets,” says Grainger, who partnered with Maher Murshed to open Thirty Six Knots. The space features two showrooms filled with a stock of rugs that changes monthly. Woven in India, the rugs range from unassuming home accents, to the stars of the show in spacious living rooms. While a young new condo owner may choose a smaller machine-woven option, the more established set may opt for an intricate customized handcrafted showpiece that could cost tens of thousands of dollars and take months to make. The latter involves a collaboration with Thirty Six Knots’ in-house interior and graphic designers and seasoned weavers to create a truly unique, one-of-a-kind piece.
Like commissioning an artist for a painting, the whole experience is a highly personalized one. “Share a story, word, colour or feeling, and we’ll interpret it into a design for you, or make your idea a reality,” reads the company website. While the designers and artisans aren’t averse to pushing boundaries in the textile department, the brand stresses the importance of respecting the long line of traditional Indian rug craftsmanship.
The Thirty Six knots retail concept features thoughtfully curated home décor and accessories from both local and international designers; a collection of which is showcased through a series of vignettes throughout the open-concept space. While the vignettes may suddenly make your own space seem slightly drab (be warned), they are designed to allow for easy visualization of how the pieces will look in the home – whatever your home may be. While definitely defined as a luxury spot, Thirty Six Knots features products that are within reach for a range of incomes.
“Since our store is really three stores in one (a designer B2B, showroom and coffee shop), we don’t have a typical customer,” says Grainger. “If I had to pick a common theme behind our different customers, it would be someone who is looking for an experience and to be inspired; whether that’s through our coffee program, our home accessories or our handmade area rugs.”
Grainger attributes the Thirty Six Knots café – which is inspired by a modern-day market – to attracting a younger demographic of customer. Complementing the shopping or browsing experience, the homey café serves up quality caffeine, cold-pressed juice, smoothies, baked goods, breakfast jars and salads. For many local regulars – including young professionals from surrounding office buildings – a stop at Thirty Six Knots Café has become part of the daily routine. “We also have regulars who will often come in just for a walk around to see what’s new in the store,” says Grainger.
Not surprisingly, the most notable talking point about the space for first-timers is that it is full-on hospitality integrated – something that doesn’t go unnoticed. “When someone new walks into the store, they are always taken back by the design, however, they are always most shocked that we have a complete third wave coffee shop infused into a custom bespoke area rug store,” says Grainger.
Whether you come for a carpet and stay for a coffee, or are simply in the market for a dose of design inspiration, the retail-redefining Thirty Six Knots experience is a worthwhile one.