207 Ouest: The emotional inventory of a Mile End design shop

A subterranean curation according to coups de cœur from Myriam and Jeanne Élie of MYEL.

J.P. Karwacki

J.P. Karwacki

May 24, 2024- Read time: 5 min
207 Ouest: The emotional inventory of a Mile End design shopPhotograph: Arseni Khamzin

In many ways, the Mile End’s design shop 207 Ouest from sisters Myriam and Jeanne Élie of the ethical jewelry brand MYEL is not your average boutique. One can say the owners select products that align with their brand and aesthetic, but those products stem from deep feelings, making their shop contain an emotional inventory.

Even its sparse placement of objects may give a similar minimalist feel that can be found in boutiques elsewhere, but at 207 Ouest? It’s all eclectic and colourful, full of patterns, textures and vibrant qualities that go against the grain of black and white minimalism.

Opening on May 9, 2024, 207 Ouest exists as if MYEL (which began in 2013) was laying down deeper roots on its street: Set in a sous-sol space of natural stone and building foundation walls, its interior design by Studio Kiff gives the subterranean space a free-flowing and organic feel.

Against the walls and above soft carpets lain like moss, or the heavy steel tables with a big cat patina by metalworker Justin Cristofaro which weave around support pillars, objects pop out from the darker elements.

“Going downstairs, it’s like a grotto or cave where you’ll discover treasures,” Myriam says.

We believe in our selection. We may not be able to completely explain why, but this kind of store doesn’t really exist in Montreal, at least not with the vision we have.

A boutique like no other

“We’re trying to find products you can’t find elsewhere in Montreal,” Jeanne says.

While there are locally-sourced pieces and concepts here, products can come from as far away as Turkey, Italy, France, Australia, and Denmark: Names range from Bitossi Home and Fornasetti to Florist NY, Arcolaio, Projet 213A, Fabien Capello, and Helle Mardahl.

They all come from various places, whether it's trawling Instagram or dialogues with friends, but all selected from an emotional place. That said, the inventory will evolve, just as its owners will over time and life.

We like to bond with brands that have a similar vision to ours, ones that are artistically focused.

“We’re often asked where we find these objects. They’re all coups de cœur. When we love something we want to have it with us, in our homes, and think it’s something someone else would like,” says Myriam.

“It’s not because we like a brand that we’ll bring in everything they offer, we’ll carefully select what we like from them,” Jeanna adds.

Objects, they say, are also ordered in small quantities, or can be unique pieces like the hand-blown glass of Montreal’s Jérémie St-Onge and their Verre d'Onge studio.

Photograph: Arseni Khamzin

It’s a similar approach to what they have with MYEL, but with international designers, focusing on craftsmanship, the stories behind objects, the ethics of their work, the quality, and originality.

“There will of course be things that are popular, like sunglasses from Australia’s Lu Goldie, but there’s a diversity to what we have,” says Jeanne. “We like to bond with brands that have a similar vision to ours, ones that are artistically focused.”

When objects resonate with me, it’s almost like butterflies in my stomach. It’s more of a feeling, something intuitive.

An inventory curated by feeling

“What touches us is the shape of an object, or its texture, its colour, how it’s made. Each product needs to have its place in the store. It’s not about throwing things around. It’s purposeful,” Myriam explains.

“An object needs to be useful,” she adds. “If you can’t touch something or find it practical, I have a problem with it. When objects resonate with me, it’s almost like butterflies in my stomach. It’s more of a feeling, something intuitive.”

“We believe in our selection. We may not be able to completely explain why, but this kind of store doesn’t really exist in Montreal, at least not with the vision we have.”

Design for life and home

“I was collecting a lot of stuff since a was a kid, but that changed once I found Fornasetti candles at 18 during travels in France.”

That personal element extends to Jeanne’s experience as well. “I only got into design once I had to start decorating my first apartment. I don’t like to change things around often, so what I like and select is often what I want to have for a long time.”

As for how they'd recommend one approaches designing their own home and life?

“If you don’t know how to design your home, you can look at how you dress; how you represent yourself is how you can represent your home. But for me, it’s really about not buying things just because you want to fill a home up with things. I’d rather have an empty living room for a while before I find the right coffee table or mirror,” explain Myriam.

“I’m constantly looking at my home and wondering how to make it better; what to put on my walls, what carpet I should lay down; I have a list of ongoing stuff, really, that I’ll want to look into.”

Jeanne and Myriam Élie. | Photograph: Arseni Khamzin

207 Ouest is located at 207 Laurier Avenue West.

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