Montréal Design as Seen by Milk & Bone

Isa Tousignant

Montréal electro-pop band Milk & Bone needs no introduction. The brains behind the beauty, Laurence Lafond-Beaulne and Camille Poliquin, have brought fame to Montréal with music so popular they’re constantly on tour, except when they’re writing and recording. These singer-songwriters do everything from scratch, from lyrics to compositions to voice – all while pushing the fashion envelope at every photo shoot. Lately they’ve been hard at work on the finishing touches of their second album, set to drop in early 2018. We caught them in a rare free moment, to get their thoughts on Montréal’s design scene and what spots we should hit.

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How would you describe Montréal’s sense of design?

Laurence Diversifié, comme ses gens! Il y a un peu de tout. Il y a beaucoup, beaucoup d’esprits créatifs à Montréal et ça donne une panoplie de choix et de directions, dans le design et dans tout en général.

Diverse, like the people. There's a bit of everything. There are so many creative minds in Montréal, so you have a wide variety of creative directions to choose from, in terms of design and in general.

Camille Crafty but elegant. Quebec has such beautiful arts & crafts and I love when it comes colliding with a sense of very DESIGN design. I think it’s very Montréal to see someone’s fingerprints in something that’s very industrial in the end.

What’s a Montréal place that you find particularly inspiring?

Laurence C’est nouveau, ça s’appelle Espace L, c’est un espace de coworking pour les femmes sur Saint-Laurent près de Fairmount. Pour moi ça tombe à point dans ce qui manquait pour les femmes: faire du réseautage, avoir un espace de dialogue et de création entre femmes.

Espace L, a new coworking space for women on Saint-Laurent Boulevard near Fairmount Avenue. I believe it provides a much-needed venue for networking, dialogue and creation among women.

Camille L’Arsenal. I love that very important events in the design scene happen there, and the space doesn’t try to be anything else than what it really is, very industrial Montréal.

Why is it important to you to support local design?

Laurence Il y a vraiment un attachement particulier quand t’achètes quelque chose fait des mains de quelqu’un, quand tu connais le travail qu’il y a derrière plutôt que quand t’achètes quelque chose de chez Ikea, par exemple. Moi je me tanne beaucoup moins d’un objet dans lequel j’ai investi qu’un truc qui est probablement attrayant à l’œil mais qui n’a pas l’âme d’un objet fait main. Ce qui fait que ça devient juste un meilleur achat à long terme parce que tu te mets à acheter moins de millions of things that you’re going to throw away because you get bored of them.

There’s a special feeling when you buy something that someone made by hand. When you're aware of the work behind it, rather than buying at IKEA, for example. I get bored of things much less if I've invested in them, compared to something that's probably attractive to the eye but lacks the soul of a handmade piece. It's a better purchase in the long term, since you end up buying less of the millions of things that you’re going to throw away because you get bored of them.

Camille I always find it very honouring when people support our shows, because we wrote all our songs in Montréal and I feel people know what we’re talking about when we play them here. I feel the same when I buy design objects made here – I feel I know it better than I would an object from elsewhere. We also have to buy local if we want the design scene to be nice and strong. There’s a price to art, to design, and it’s good to remind people of the reason why. And there’s definitely a correlation between emotional investment and financial investment. We should put our music at a very high price! Cent piasses, l’album, cent piasses!

How does Montreal inform your work and creative expression?

Laurence The seasons. L’hiver montréalais est vraiment la période de l’année où je crois que les deux on crée le plus.

The seasons. Winter in Montréal is the time of year when we create the most.

Camille There’s nothing to do!

Laurence Tu restes à l’intérieur, you get a little depressed…

You stay indoors, you get a little depressed…

Camille No sunlight – you have to connect with your feelings.

Laurence L’hiver montréalais est une de nos principales sources d’inspiration.

Montréal's winter is one of our main sources of inspiration.

What’s your favourite neighbourhood?

Laurence La Petite Italie. Il y a juste assez de vivant mais c’est quand même calme, comme tu peux marcher dans les rues. C’est la parfaite balance où il y a encore quelque bonnes années avant que ça devienne hyper gentrifié.

Little Italy. It's lively yet calm enough to walk the streets. It's the perfect balance, and there are still a few good years left before it's very gentrified.

Camille It’s one of my favourite neighbourhoods too. I love walking around the streets and there’s all these old houses and then one, pow! It catches your eye, and you’re blown away. I wouldn’t like to live in a neighbourhood where every house is the same, or look-at-me “I have an architect designed house,” but I love it every now and then.

Where do you go in Montréal for a coffee?

Camille Dispatch.

 

Laurence Je ne bois pas de café!

I don't drink coffee!

For dinner?

Laurence Quand je veux vraiment me gâter je vais au Diplomate. C’est un tiny space sur Beaubien et le chef est incroyable, la cuisine est vraiment intéressante – l’arrangement des saveurs et des textures est tout le temps weird, mais in a good way.

When I really want to spoil myself, I go to Le Diplomate. It's a tiny space on Beaubien Street. The chef is amazing and the food is very interesting. The arrangement of flavours and textures is always weird, but in a good way.

Camille Le Cadet, the sister restaurant of Bouillon Bilk. A bit more casual, so lovely. I like to go there at 9 or 10 and have a late dinner.

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When you feel like shopping?

Laurence Je ne magazine pas énormément, mais il y a deux endroits où je sais que je vais trouver quelque chose qui me plait: le Ibiki of course, et Atelier 10 sur Beaubien. Plein d’objets par des créateurs Montréalais, et ils ont aussi des livres.

I don't go shopping a lot, but there are a couple of places where I know I'll find something I’ll like Ibiki, of course, and Atelier 10 on Beaubien Street. There are lots of items by Montréal designers, and they also have books.

Camille Jamais Assez, Cahier d’Exercises, Betina Lou, Ibiki and Les Étoffes.

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You have a design-obsessed friend coming to Montreal. Where do you send them?

Camille Jamais Assez, Musée d’art contemporain, Ibiki, Souk@SAT if it’s during the winter, Caféden and I’d also send them to see a few select Montréal-designed houses like on Plateau streets like Laval and de Bullion.

Laurence Si c’est l’été il y a l’Alexandraplatz qui est un endroit vraiment, vraiment great. Quand j’ai des amis in town j’y vais c’est sûr. Aussi au Centre Clark, une galerie dans le Mile End sur de Gaspé.

If it's summer, there's Alexandraplatz, which is really great. When I have friends in town I always go there. There's also Centre Clark, a gallery on Gaspé Avenue in the Mile End.

 

This post has been presented in collaboration with Souk@SAT, avid supporters of Montréal design.

 

Isa Tousignant

Isa Tousignant, blogger

Isa Tousignant is an art and lifestyle writer based out of Montréal’s ecclectic Park Ex neighbourhood. She is Contributing Editor for Canadian Art magazine and freelances full-time for a wide variety of magazines and brands. She’s also a jewellery designer and passionate about animal costumes and their role in contemporary art.