I was honoured to be a judge of the Canstruction event at the DX (Nov 8, 2011). The concept of the competition is to raise awareness of the need for food banks and hunger in the world by building structural displays of canned food. Designs are created by leading architectural and engineering firms in the GTA. They raise money to actually buy the thousands of cans of food, create the displays and then donate the food to the Food Bank in Toronto. The picture of Einstein below was a winner of best label use of which I was a judge. The ACTUAL can labels create the pixelated effect using hundreds of cans of good food. Food quality and selection is also judged. Displays are viewable at the TD Centre.

Best Label Use Winner - via digitalHonourable Mention Winner

Honourable Mention Winner

All of the entrees demonstrated to me that volunteerism is very alive in the GTA and that we can all make a difference to end hunger. The winning project was meticulously executed by DELCAN architects.

“You don’t have to be an Einstein to solve hunger”.

Paul Rowan

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Get Organized for School

Summer comes and goes so fast. When August rolls around everyone knows it’s that “wonderful time of the year” again– Back to School. Most parents are counting down the days; but what if you’re a parent whose ‘child’ is all grown up and heading off to college? Maybe a bit nervous, maybe ecstatic. Either way Umbra can make it a little better for you. Decorating is always fun and we have tons of great solutions for those that are moving to campus or into an apartment.

We just finished our August/Back to School window where you can see some of the products showcased. 

Even better, come on into the store and pick up some of these great items.

Don’t worry though, if you’re not close-by, you can always shop our website. Here are some of our top picks for getting organized for school:

A fun way to leave notes and reminders, Talk Chalk is a magnetic board with chalk holder and Rings is a new take on the traditional cork board.

The always popular floating bookshelf, Conceal, now comes as a double unit… and in white.

The Criss Cross bookend will make those Economics and Psychology books seem just a little bit nicer.

Organize all your bathroom accessories, cosmetics and toiletries with Capelli and Compaca. The Touch series comes in 5 great colours to add a pop of modern design.

There’s always a need for more hanging space. Maximize your small space with our huge selection of hooks.

Jewelry organizing solutions in all styles, and for everyone’s taste, will make getting ready easy and keep your space neat. 

We’re known for making your typical garbage can look more unique and playful whithout sacrificing function. Come and choose from a variety of colours and shapes. The Crunch Drawstring Bag is lightweight, durable and practical for laundry or a storage solution in any environment.

Aside from wanting to make your dorm or apartment more organized, decorating and having fun is important too. We carry tons of products that will liven up your tiny space– from easy to apply wall decor (made with adhesive that’s just as simple to remove), cool frames and one of a kind games, like our top selling Pongo portable ping pong set. Perfect for when you need a break from all that studying.

This is just a preview of what’s available for your back to school and dorm/apartment needs. Drop by the store or visit us online

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home-grown window design

The May window is up. We wanted to feature one of our custom furniture pieces (to coincide with our promo) to be showcased. The red chair, and new Spring season sparked an idea. Have a look at our inspiration board in the previous post. So we went with took the concept of “home-grown” and created a cozy, brightly coloured outdoor living space. We’ve had great feedback on the window and even some customers that  want to purchase our DIY blossom balls.

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may window sneak peek

With only a couple of days left in April, The Umbra Store is preparing for our much-anticipated furniture promo. We will be offering our customers 25% off all our custom furniture during the month of May. With more sofa options to choose from, you small dweller are sure to find a great piece.  

So the new month calls for a new window at the store. We were inspired by the new sHere’s what we’ve been working on:

The window will be up next week, so when you drop by the store you can check it out. 

If you’re not on our email list yet, you should definitely sign up. You’ll be invited to all sorts of great events, and be the first to know about promos (like this month’s furniture deal) and other happenings in the store. Our Facebook page will also give you the scoop.

Hope to see you in May.

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Umbra Designer Picks for 2011

The 2011 collection was launched earlier this year so we’ve been receiving new merch every week in the store. We’re still waiting on some new great products to ship out, but pop by the store often to see what’s new and exciting.

Earlier this year we asked our designers which new products they predicted to be the hot sellers for 2011. Here are their picks:

So far, these are some of our top-selling items in the store. Some are so new they’re not even available yet. What about you– have you been to The Umbra Store lately? What are some of your favourite new items?

Check out this video of our designers talking about their top picks for the year:

In true Umbra Store spirit, we will be hosting our annual product launch. It’s happening a little late this year, but we’ve been waiting for all our new stock to arrive. Not only will you be able to have a peak at the new stuff but it’s also Customer Appreciation Night.  Get on our event list if you want an official invite to this exclusive closed door event. Once you receive an invite, you must RSVP in order to secure your spot as spaces are limited. Details to be included in your invite. Hope to see you there!

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national home show 2011

So The Umbra Store has wrapped up the 10 day long National Home Show at Exhibition Place. This was our second show; we started off with Fall Home Show and worked up to the National. With a bit of imagination and a lot of hard work we created a great little spot at the show and were able to highlight some of our newest and most popular products within a mere 10×20′ booth.

On Tuesday February 21, day 5 of the show, Umbra was invited to a breakfast tweet up with some other exhibitors and celebrity designers. What a great treat for everyone who worked so hard to make the show a success!

It’s been a great way for out-of-towners to get their hands on some of the most popular Umbra products. Here are the top three products that just flew off the shelves:


left to right: flip hook $30, magnetter $13, sticks multi hook $25

Thank you everyone who stopped by the show and visited our booth. Hopefully we’ll get to see some you at our home on John Street. 


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trade show season

Trade show season is in full swing, and everyone at Umbra has been in show mode. So far Umbra’s been to Paris, Milan, Spain, UK, and Frankfurt, China, Japan, New York, and Chicago. We recently won best large booth at CGTA (Canadian Gift and Tableware Association). Here’s a peek into the winning installation.

These shows are great for the retail trade, but consumers don’t get to see and enjoy the stunning Umbra booths.

Great news though, you can now find the Umbra Store at consumer trade shows. We actually just got back from the National Home Show. Stay tuned to see how it went.

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