At IIDEX Neocon: Janis Kravis Working Toward Sustainability

When I graduated from architecture school and got a job, whenever I wanted a nice glass of wine in wonderful surroundings I would go with my friend Kelvin to the Wine Cellar in the Three Small Rooms in the Windsor Arms Hotel in Toronto, designed in 1964 by Janis Kravis and alas, now gone.
Karelia poster via Mjölk

Whenever I needed anything for my apartment, from electrical parts to furniture, I would go to Karelia, a downtown store that, in an era before IKEA, sold wonderful Scandinavian design at affordable prices. It was owned and operated by Janis Kravis, a big Latvian who looked like Santa Claus; It really was the breakthrough store that influenced a generation of Toronto designers. Alas, it too is long gone.

It is always a surprise and a pleasure to run into Janis Kravis, he still looks exactly the same. And, always on top of what is happening, now he is running a website.


Ecomaterials.ca is "a free, Canadian database of companies, products and services with recognized efforts in resource and energy effectiveness, environmental and social responsibility, working toward a sustainable and restorative society."

Janis writes:

Products, services and companies are evaluated on the basis of common sense, the experience and knowledge of the evaluating team and on information provided by the company in response to a questionnaire. Evaluation criteria are listed on the site.

Environmental and health impacts are considered for the complete life cycle of the material or product including harvesting, transportation, manufacturing, distribution, installation, operation and maintenance, reuse and disposal.

To get any information on the products that have a maple leaf approval, you have to register. (it's free). I don't want to be critical of anything Janis Kravis does, but I think he is going to have a tough fight on his hands, Google has made this kind of website superfluous. But it is truly inspiring, to see how one never needs to stop trying to make a better world, with better design.

If you are visiting IIDEX go shake his hand, he helped make the Toronto design scene what it is today.

Have a look at Ecomaterials.ca.

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