With a discerning eye and an indelible appetite for the unfeigned, open hand, Merchant retains a certain grace and reactivity in the epicurean sensibilities that frame her daily pursuits. Shop fronts, interiors, still lifes and a few toothsome table settings, each carry their own richness, coquetry and intrigue.
Where did you grow up and how did that shape your formative years stylistically?
I grew up in a smaller city in Southern Ontario, situated on Lake Huron. Although there wasn't much in the way of culture there, my mother created an environment for me where I was exposed to art and literature, which influenced me stylistically. She was, and still is, fantastic at cooking. She creates beautiful spreads, which influences my love for doing the same.
Tell us a little about the places you've travelled to, are they reflective of your aesthetic and sensibilities?
I lived in Seoul for just over a year, which influenced my aesthetic quite a bit. I loved its small press bookshops, pop up flea markets, adorable cafes, buzzing neon alleys, etc. I grew very drawn to Korean design, especially stationery, the aesthetic of companies like MMMG and O-Check designs. I loved eating set lunches in simple cafes and then visiting vibrant concept stores. I was also lucky to visit Paris last year as well, and was very attracted to the Rose Bakery (I still regularly use their cookbook for salad parties) and Merci. I also attended one of Jim Haynes' Sunday Dinners, which has made me want to get more involved in communal dinner parties.
Tell us what you love about Toronto and what you could live without. Where would you like to explore next?
As for Toronto, I love the familiarity and comfort that my home and friends bring to me. I like the sense of community, which I didn't have as much of while living in Seoul. Toronto can also be very beautiful, especially in the summer. However, I could live without the transit system - I'll have to get a bike next spring.
I think I would like to explore more of Europe next, although I will always have a soft spot for Southeast Asia - I would love to visit Japan at some point, as I didn't have a chance to last time I was there.
How have you been spending your days of late? Take us through your typical weekday & weekend.
Lately I've been spending my days working, mostly. On days off, however, I like to have friends over, either for brunch or cocktails. I always like trying new recipes. There are also usually good gallery openings on Thursday evenings in Toronto, so my boyfriend and I generally like to go to those. Sometimes I have a day off during the week, which I like to use running errands and taking myself to lunch, getting flowers from Coriander Girl, the sweetest flower store down the street from my home.
What's involved in your creative process? How do you like to work?
I feel most inspired when I'm taking photos, especially when I'm traveling. I love taking photos of spaces - cafes, stores, etc. When I was in Paris there was a beautiful installation up at Merci, which I loved documenting. However, I also find pleasure in taking photos of my daily life, which I'm trying to do more of.
Describe your ideal project, collaborators and workspace.
As mentioned above, I love photographing spaces, so my ideal project would be creating a city guide (perhaps for Toronto), featuring stores, cafes, galleries, etc. To this end, I would love collaborating with the owners of these spaces, conducting interviews and working with them to ensure they are beautifully represented.
Can you tell us a little about what you're working on at the moment?
I'm working on brainstorming new content and ideas for my blog - I would love to travel some more, as I like sharing photos of new (to me) places best.
Who are the artists/authors/auteurs/albums that have most influenced you.
Leanne Shapton, Zadie Smith, Brit Marling, Ye Min Rok, Gabrielle Hamilton
What are your everyday essentials? Ensemble, beauty, health, inspiration.
Oversized black clothing, my Karen Walk Super Duper Strength Sunglasses.
I've recently started using an Armani Foundation, which is very good, Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment, Nars Blush in Gaiety, red or pink lipstick, Bumble and Bumble Undressing Creme, nailpolish.
Drinking lots of water, fruit, oatmeal for breakfast, arugula salad on the side of anything.
I check a variety of blogs daily - Decade Diary, Fieldguided, Intelligent Clashing, Another Loves, Happy Accident, 01 Magazine etc. which always inspire me.
Magazines I like to read regularly - Bad Day, Acne Paper, Lula, Apartamento, I Love You, Russh, WORN
What have you been coveting?
Chanel Sycamore and velvet Marni shoes.
How has your taste evolved? What did you like as a child, in high school, college?
My taste has evolved in the sense that I'm a little more sensible in my choices, clothing wise, and less focused on trends, which I suppose happens to most people as they get older... I look for pieces that I know I'll like for a long time and are versatile. Growing up, I always loved collecting stationery and books, which hasn't really changed at all. In high school I started to love makeup and beauty products, which I still like very much.
Philosophy on life and love?