Thank you for visiting CO's website. I hope you like the gallery and the work of our extraordinary artists as much as I have enjoyed bringing CO to life.
CO, which opened in May 2008, is the culmination of my lifelong love affair with the arts coupled with my commitment to the values of sustainable development. It reflects my long experience working as a policy advisor for governments and international organizations on issues related to international trade and most importantly, sustainability. By sustainability, I mean finding ways to build stable economies that respect the environment and improve the lives of people.
Through my work, I have seen a lot of the world. And because I like to explore every nook and cranny of wherever I happen to be, I have had the privilege of meeting and getting to know individuals and communities who are finding ways to improve their lives by creating economic opportunities in creative, inspiring and ingenious ways. After awhile, I began to have the same feeling every time I headed home: regret that the beautiful objects I had seen might never make it to Canada and that no one here would get to see the amazing work making such a difference to people's lives.
And so I set out to bring my two passions together -- to create a space where I could practice what I have preached -- to create economic opportunities through trade in sustainably produced goods. Along the way, I have been introduced to other designers innovating closer to home -- reusing materials in unexpected and beautiful ways and creating sophisticated techniques to transform waste materials into sculptural objects that reflect the very best in contemporary design.
CO works on a small scale, with small producers and people who are committed to producing in an environmentally and socially responsible way. None of us is interested in simply generating more stuff -- we are interested in the exploration that leads to the soul of an object -- it's the journey that leads to where innovation transforms waste material into a thing of beauty, or to where people facing overwhelming odds take their destinies into their own hands and use local resources to improve their lives and communities, or to where someone with a playful imagination executes an idea that adds an element of surprise to an otherwise commonplace object that we use every day.
In our name, the 'C' and 'O' represent the two letters that are common to the three words that make up sustainability -- that is, economy, ecology and community. We are not simply out for economic gain, we are not simply "eco" and we are not simply interested in equity and fair trade. We are interested in how and where these three elements can weave together, with a view to supporting the development of a more sustainable economic model, which must include elements of all three areas in a fragile and complex balance. And we call CO a gallery to respect the fact that we are working with artists. At the same time, CO is a welcoming boutique where there is something affordable and beautiful for everyone.
Since we opened, I continue to be amazed, educated and rewarded on a daily basis. The vision at CO is to bring you a collection of pieces that are functional, contemporary and beautiful. They are also fun, a little eccentric and often entirely unexpected. There is no compromise on superb workmanship and sophisticated design, which is as it should be, while the fact that taken together, the pieces promote sustainability in all its elements could be viewed as a bonus, albeit an important one at CO.
Enjoy your visit!
A cross between a gallery and a retail store, CO has something for everyone. We offer beautifully designed objects from around the corner and around the world, which benefit the environment, the people who make them, and the people who ultimately enjoy them. CO promotes art and design as accessible and functional elements of an aesthetically rich and healthy lifestyle, and part of a sustainable future. As individuals we have the power to help shape this future, including through what we choose to buy and what we choose to sell. Everything we sell at CO is made by artists and communities creating original design using environmentally sound practices and materials and/or making a contribution to the well-being of the broader community. We are also proud to honour the principles of fair trade.