Skip to Main Content »

Search Site

Happy Holidays!

Wishing everyone a very Happy Holiday and a good New Year!


the ubisu family

What’s Bugging City Dwellers?

If you’re wondering what bugs city dwellers in Toronto, here are the top complaints in 2010.

1. Garbage
2. Property bylaw investigations
3. Missed furniture pickup
4. Roads and potholes
5. Blocked sewers

Although I live in a densely populated city, I only complain about it just a little. Sure it would be nice to have a bit more property space and a few more parks and trees but we trade that for the excitement and joy of living in the city. I’ll admit it. There are times when I enjoy visiting the quiet suburban neighbourhoods and visiting a big box store but I still always want to come home to my small row house where I can hear my neighbour chatting through the thin walls, parking in my lane-way garage parking spot and walking through the crowded streets any time of day.

The urban lifestyle is still home to me.

In a recent article published by The Toronto Star, they asked ‘what city issues are bugging Torontonians?’ The main complaint? You guess it…garbage! The top complaint for urban homeowners was about garbage-related issues including curbside collection and bins. When Torontonians received new garbage and recycling bins, the city received many complaints. The community felt that they had no place to store these oversized bins and they were far too large for an urban setting. Cities around the world have adopted this new bin program with similar negative responses. Homeowners with limited property space do not have any suitable storage options and find that pests and urban wildlife are inhabiting their bins. We live in the city too and decided to create our urbin storage solution for these very reasons.

I don’t like my bins but as a homeowner, do I really have a choice? I need to recycle and discard my organic waste.

Our solution is to embrace our urban lifestyle (and all the issues that come with it) and then to solve it with good design. After all, ubisu’s motto is ’solving urban issues through good design.’ So instead of complaining, we decided to do something positive about it.

Check us out in Designlines!

Coming this JANUARY 2011, check out ubisu in DESIGNLINES!

DESIGNLINES, published by Azure Magazine, is the ultimate guide to Toronto’s best contemporary furniture showrooms and home and lifestyle shops.

Getting Married to Design

Where does a design-oriented, like-minded couple go to get married? At a design location, of course!

This November, I will be celebrating my fifth wedding anniversary to my wonderful husband. Six years ago, I got my beautiful engagement ring. Six years ago, I was ecstatic to become a bride. Six years ago, we are started planning a wedding. Like most new brides, I had ideas for my wedding but was overwhelmed by the amount of planning, detail and money that had to go into that one special day. We both wanted a wedding that represented our personalities and set within an urban location. The location was easy. As city dwellers, there was no other option than downtown Toronto. Our lives were intertwined in the city and we could not think of a better location that suited us both. We visited many (and many) different venues but really found only one that represented us, both personally and professionally. The Design Exchange (DX) was the perfect option for a couple who loved the city and were passionate about design. Formerly, the Toronto Stock Exchange, the DX is Canada’s design centre and event hall that promotes the value of design.

As our fifth anniversary approaches, I remember walking down the aisle with a 40 foot high ceiling above me, a cocktail reception within a design exhibit and dinner and dancing in an Art Deco ballroom. This anniversary, we hope to stop by, reminisce and re-visit our designer wedding venue for one more ‘I do.’

Ubisu- What does your Company Name Mean?

When you’re starting a new business, you have many challenges and concerns. Will my business be successful? How will I grow my company? How do I connect with my customers? How do I create the best products? But at the very beginning of starting a new business, there is another fun (but challenging) question you will need to answer— What in the world should we name our company? The company name is one of the first challenges of starting a business, and choosing a bad business name can haunt and hinder you.

We choose the name ‘ubisu’ after many, many long hours of discussion and debate at our offices (and at local coffee shops). I’ll admit that the quest for our company name started off poorly. Days and days went by with no name resolution. You would have thought that we were a bunch of new parents trying to figure out the name of our child. So after a latte or two (or five) , we decided on the name, ubisu because of an experience I had in Tokyo, Japan a couple years earlier. Tokyo was not only one of the most futurist and design-oriented cities I had ever seen, but also the cleanest. In a densely populated city with millions of people, its cleanliness was an inspiration and a concept I wanted to bring back home to my city. I remember getting off the subway one day at a stop called ‘Ebisu Niche’ and being so impressed with the modernist of this city. Our name, ubisu, is a take on that subway stop name, representing niche modern products that improve the lives of the urban homeowner.

Recycle your Hershey’s Kiss Foil!

Before you throw out your trash or recycling next garbage day, here are some interesting trash facts:

1.   Plastic bags decompose in 15 – 1000 years.
2.   A babies diaper can take 500 to 800 years to decompose.
3.   Plastic bottles and cans never decompose.
4.   Every ton of paper that is recycled saves 17 trees.
5.   Each person throws away approx four pounds of garbage daily.
6.   Recycling a single run of the Sunday New York Times would save 75,000 trees.
7.   More than 20,000,000 Hershey’s Kisses are wrapped each day. All that foil is recyclable, but not many people realize it.
8.   Once an aluminum can is recycled, it can be part of a new can within six weeks.
9.   Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run a TV for three hours!
10.  It can take up to 700 years for plastic to decompose in a landfill.

Eating Out

I am a big fan of exploring the urban landscape of my great city.

I love to bike through my neighbourhood, explore the hidden gems in my lane ways and visit the different cultures in my community. Last night I ventured out for a Queen Street West exploration. I had spent the afternoon at the IIDEX Conference (Canada’s National Design  Expo) at the Direct Energy Centre in Toronto. It was a very useful conference for interior designers, architects and others of the design trade, and I really enjoyed my time walking through the exhibition floor. I later attended a trade cocktail party and like always, I met some interesting people. As the conference ended, I decided that my evening would end with an exploration in the Parkdale area. And what do you do after a long trade show? You find a good restaurant for dinner and a comfortable place to sit down. When you live in downtown Toronto, deciding on a restaurant can be near impossible. We have thousands of possibilities to choose from and deciding on one can be quite a daunting task. So we headed down to Parkdale to check out a restaurant called Parts & Labour. I am a fan of one of the great restaurants in Toronto called Odd Fellows who also owns Parts & Labour. Odd Fellows is exactly what it’s name says – it’s odd, delicious with a non traditional decor and a communal table. I love Odd Fellows so naturally, I wanted to try it’s sister restaurant with an equally good name.

First of all, Parts & Labour has great decor. Concrete stools, great lighting and long communal tables. I had wanted to order a vegetable dish but was told that the chef was unhappy with the dish and it was now banished from the menu. Good thing I didn’t order it. The menu had a lot of pork related dishes and I don’t like pork so I ordered the chicken. It was good but it was just too bad that it also came with a bacon side dish. For anyone who has a sweet tooth, there is a full candy plate for dessert including Reese Peanut Butter Cups and toasted marshmallows (which I was very tempted to order. But I didn’t). My overall impression was Odd Fellows was better but definitely worth a try if you’re in the area.

Or don’t take my advice. I’m a creator, a visionary, a thinker and a doer but I’m no restaurant reviewer.

Cabbagetown Festival!

Over the weekend, we exhibited at Toronto’s Cabbagetown Festival. The weather was absolutely beautiful (thank you, Mother Nature!) and the streets were bustling with city residents. We arrived at our booth location early on Saturday morning for set up. My husband, who is not a morning person, needed coffee immediately (thanks to local cafe, Jet Fuel!), and we started to unload our things. Ironically, our booth was situated directly across the street from a row of garbage and recycling bins. There must have been over 50 bins, and it was quite the view. It was very fitting, considering we were showcasing the urbin– a modern storage solution to store your outdoor bins.

We spent the weekend chatting with our Cabbagetown neighbours and showcasing our urbin. It was a long day but after 11 hours, we still had excited energy and we were still chatting away. Thanks to everyone who stopped by and it was so great meeting you. We appreciate all your comments and positive feedback!

Check us out at the Cabbagetown Festival- This Weekend!

If you’re in the Toronto area this weekend, check us out at the Cabbagetown Festival, September 11th.

Where: Parliament Street from Wellesley south to Gerrard in Toronto’s east end.

When: Saturday, September 11 and Sunday, September 12. From 11:00 am to 8:30 pm each day.

We would love to chat with you! Come by and check us out!

Prototype on the Porch

Technically, I have a product prototype sitting on my porch. But that was too many P’s to use in the title. This week, we picked up one of our urbin prototypes and decided to bring her home. “She” (or he, for that matter) had been enjoying life, first at our manufacturer, and then at various other test locations. But after awhile, it was time to bring her home. We love our urbin and are very proud of our product but she is not perfect. She is a prototype which means she has been tested, bashed around and not looking like her perfect self.

So you can see why I was hesitant to showcase her on my porch for all to see.

A neighbour walks by and takes a look. The mailman gives a double take. The lady walking her dog asks about our urbin. A mom pushing a stroller comments “That looks nice!” I’m very appreciative of all the nice feedback and comments. So our prototype on the porch will stay…for now at least.