By Brenlee Coates
Vanessa Kunderman’s credenza drawer broke that morning. It was a vintage piece she had thrifted, and it was her favourite.
“Working here, it’s shifting how I think,” says Kunderman, the manager of Hut K. “Why do I have so many of these cheap things? We don’t need so much stuff; we need a few great pieces.”
Hut K is known for quality that endures, design that is beautiful and functional, and mid-range to high-end products for the home. It is also the exclusive Winnipeg dealer of renowned international lines like Tom Dixon and Emeco.
Design-conscious Winnipeggers frequent the shop looking for attractive products that answer a need. Kunderman shows me an example of a wooden spoon by Muuto. It has a divot on its backside so it can rest on the lip of a pot.
You know that mess you always leave behind when you stick a spoon covered in spaghetti sauce on the counter? Yeah – it answers that need. However, the wood also adds properties to the reaction so the pot will never boil over. “It changes how you look at designs and how innovative they are – it fixes a problem,” says Kunderman.
It’s all in the details at Hut K – and miraculously, what you see in the shop is only an iota of what is available through the furniture and decor dealer.
The showroom at 200 Princess Street carries about 10 per cent of its offerings – staff is able to source everything else from Hut K’s exclusive lines which you can browse on its website.
Hut K has always carried many hard-to-reach European designs and some touted Canadian designers like Bensen, but it now also features a room fully stocked with local talent.
While the odd tote bag and pillow inspired by Winnipeg could always be found at Hut K, it now houses an affordable locally-made section in its store, known as Catalyst.
The roster of artists and makers will be ever-evolving, and artists can make submissions of their work throughout the year.
Making affordable prints and trinkets available is also a great way for visitors to Actual Gallery to engage with local art even if its contemporary pieces are out-of-reach. Hut K and Actual both lead into the room that is Catalyst, so it’s a way of connecting the two establishments with some natural common ground.
“It’s a way for Actual and Hut K to flow into each other,” says Kunderman. “You have to come inside (Catalyst) through the gallery here or through the furniture store.”
A panel selected the first artists featured at Catalyst: currently, artwork by Connie Borys, Neil Peter Dyck, Gabrielle Funk, Joseph Koensgen and Matea Radic are displayed. Regalia jewelry by Alexandra Tumanov, In Plan View linens by Chelsea Maier, and Mine Clothing by brothers Kyle and Corey Doucette are also available.
Where to find it
Hut K recently made a minor move from the corner of Princess Street at McDermot Avenue to Princess Street at Ross Avenue – and while McDermot is notably more of a shopping destination, the store has picked up since the relocation. “We actually have more walk-in traffic,” says Kunderman. “People know us… we’re like a destination spot.”
The shop is owned by Tim Borys, who himself builds furniture, has an architecture background, and is passionate about design. He also works for his family’s business, Border Glass & Aluminum, and Hut K is his solo passion project.
Hut K’s influence is visible in many pockets in town, due to its well-crafted and emblematic designs. Little Sister Coffee Maker was recently in to purchase bar chairs, and the furniture shop has provided many of the hipper restaurants’ lighting and seating. “We’re kind of known for our eclectic chairs,” explains Kunderman.
Between those, the iconic bubble lamps, the marble coffee tables, the modern desks, the custom-coloured couches, the local artists’ works – and even the wooden spoons – the store has many “few great pieces” – not cheap things – to covet.