It’s immediately striking how seamlessly SOCCO Living’s many categories flow on the floor

Home design enthusiasts have watched loads of lifestyle and décor retailers make the shift to online selling over the last few decades. Not all of it has been pretty:  many early digital platforms were neither attractive nor efficient.

Clumsy first steps served as lessons to next-gen retailers, though, who followed up with undeniably lovely online shops. One of the most appealing is SOCCO Living , which began life online with a handsome, tightly-curated offering of straw baskets/accessories, textiles, planters, furniture handblown glass, stationery, soaps, and candles/holders, along dish/serve/glass-ware, art, and decorative objects.

In 2020 — just in time for the COVID-19 pandemic — co-founders Samir El Wali and Marion Le Saux brought SOCCO’s online aesthetic to life with a bricks-and-mortar store in Toronto’s Annex neighbourhood.

The space showcased real-life examples of lines from small businesses crafting durable, sustainable housewares around the world, and reflected a commitment to fair-trade, heritage craft, artisanal production techniques, and lower-footprint shipping methods.

In November 2022, a second store opened at 1020 Queen West, giving the owners over 3,000 square feet of display floor, along with loads of light, warm brick walls, and attractively high ceilings.

It’s immediately striking how seamlessly the store’s many categories flow on the floor. Anchoring it is a serene palette of earth, wood, stone, clay, and straw. They set the overall calming tone, while invigorating shots of colour come from interesting art, décor, and accessories.

The new space has more room for eponymous rugs, expanded linens and couches — including models with exquisitely comfortable feather seating.

The inter-continental connection is natural. Samir El Wali moved to Canada from Morocco in 2011, harboring a desire to share the charm and beauty of traditional Moroccan handcrafting.

A  workshop in Morocco currently collaborates with 20 local artisans, and a house brand is made in Portugal, Sweden, Paris, Morocco, and Vancouver.

As for the modern, playful aesthetic the store exudes, that’s surely helped by French-born Marion Le Saux, who brings a photographer’s eye to product curation and a graphic designer’s sense of scale, colour, and composition to the showroom.

Home linen is a specialty, and includes OEKO-tex certified stonewashed linen in delicate neutrals or earthy tones that’s made in Portugal (which has exploded as a manufacturer of linen) from flax grown in France and Belgium. The texture is buttery-soft, and blush, cream, brown, and charcoal tones are divine.

There’s also a pillowy cotton-gauze reversible duvet cover and pillowcase. Choose between thin or wide stripes in dreamy shades of cream or sage.

To give you an idea of store pricing: two 18- by 18- inch stonewashed napkins are $32, and an 18- by 26- inch tea towel is $26. For windows, room dividers, shower and bath curtains — possibly tablecloths — there are 59- by 118-inch linen rectangles, either hemmed straight or with a smart black trim to add a little polish, for $125. Handsome hardware is part of the assortment. It all seems very reasonable to me, given the superb quality.

Marion Le Saux envisions SOCCO’s real-life incarnation to serve as a hub for more than just in-person retail. Recently, they featured the cheerfully whimsical work of Toronto-based Paula Hartmann, a self-taught mobile maker influenced by Pajaki, a paper craft originating in rural Poland.

Pajaki is Polish for spiders, and the form uses folded papers and straw to make light, multi-legged chandelier structures that shake at the slightest breeze. From afar, they look like colourful blossoms dancing  in the air; up close, the intricate detail becomes impressively apparent. Equally interesting events are expected.

Despite the current hyper-focus on the new storefront, SOCCO continues to build the brand by shipping its collections internationally through its  online shop  ,  beautifully bridging the world of real and virtual retail.

Vicky Sanderson is the editor of Around the House. Check her out on Instagram@athwithvicky, Twitter ATHwithVicky and Facebook.com/ATHVicky.ca .

2023-04-14T13:14:45Z dg43tfdfdgfd