The Arthur

The Arthur is a vintage boutique in Toronto, Canada, named after owner Liz Ikiriko’s beloved grandfather. The project began as an online store, but soon grew so successful that Liz opened a physical shop. That’s where The Trading Co came in. Liz’s veneration for memory and history synced perfectly with The Trading Co’s passion for simple, timeless design.

Design - Blair Farrington
Design - Blair Farrington

Liz requested a script style logo, one that reflected the sense of nostalgia that infuses the store and its wares. Blair quickly jotted a concept and brought it to the light table to flesh it out.   

Once the logo was completed, the next step was to apply it to an outdoor canvas sign to be hung above her entrance. Blair’s fashion school experience came into play in an 8-hour sewing battle with a large canvas sign. Common practice is to constantly iron a panel of fabric as you sew to keep the cloth smooth and your lines straight. But every time Blair hit it with the iron the fabric shrunk. After every run through the sewing machine the sign came out crooked, its proportions skewed. Blair had no choice but to ditch the tailor’s best friend and sew it cold. After hours Blair proudly handed his victory over to Graeme, who quickly discovered that painting on the waterproof canvas was as much a battle as sewing it. But Graeme tapped into his problem solving nature and, after developing an unorthodox technique, got it done.

To go with the sign Liz requested fifty smaller felt pennants, to string around the shop or give away as gifts, so Blair cut twenty-five in black and twenty-five in red, fed them through his industrial sewing machine and called on Colby and Aden at Incite Screen Printing to administer the logo.

The cards continued the weathered, love-worn look. Graeme and Blair started with charcoal gray cardstock. Alex at Classic Stationary created a custom deboss plate and hot-stamped the Arthur’s logo in gold foil onto each card. Not new, glittering gold, but frayed and peeled; the kind of beauty that can be gained only through the passage of time.

Next they created custom letterhead and antique hangtags. The hangtags are small, circular paper cutouts with metal rims on which Liz can write prices. They came new, clean and white, and they needed a way to gracefully age them. Coffee-staining presented a solution. Not to say a quick or easy solution. The first attempted coffee bath resulted in jet-black tags and a studio that reeked of burnt coffee for a week. Suitably learned, Blair and Graeme’s second attempt went smoother. They flipped the tags halfway and used a down-home drying system, a toaster oven, to give the paper a sepia-toned antique look.

The Arthur perhaps best demonstrates the breadth and range of The Trading Co’s skills. This project marked the coming together of many disparate crafts to create a comprehensive identity evocative of nostalgic, old-world charm. An homage to days gone by.