Bruised and battered I stop and backtrack, for what is in motion is now carrying me.
I find myself looking at a menu with a distinct unfamiliarity. I don’t even know the name of this coffee shop, much less why I’m in it.
Then again, I also found myself on the ground colliding with a van without a recollection of how it happened. My senses are slowly communicating to my subconscious that everything is okay.
I feel a residing calm. I am on the roadside. I am in a coffee shop.
Baddies is the name, and the owner Alex White is a face I recognize. However, he recalls our first encounter and the twines of connection begin to unravel.
To understand where I am, I must attend to who I am — an evolution of self through space. Doing my emotional work in a coffee shop is definitively unreal, and for me, uncommon — the juxtaposition of working through the inner monologues of my discretions and musings in a public shared social space isn’t a frequent occurrence.
Neither is the blend of this distinctively Toronto-feeling yet Australian-style coffee shop, and its aesthetically driven blend of Scandinavian influences and graphic homages to the Oz (Australia for you drongos) in vintage surface images, creatively superimposed on a hand-drawn wave. Housed in the mural of surfers of the past, one great man lies: Alex’s father, one of the protagonists (and arguably hero) of this shop.
This entire space is one of recovery, a fact I recognize as the feeling of having gone to war with my emotions and body sit in my consciousness, as the sunlight crawls up my back. I order Chia Seed Pudding, its protein and sweetness getting my blood sugar up, furthering recovery. Again, a choice where my “higher self” demanded my attention. Only through retroactive articulation did I realize the processes at work.
Baddies’ main design principle is one of minimalism and refined warmth. Watching how they interact with community members makes you instantly at ease. There isn’t any sort of representational bias in conduct or attire, yet it attracts the affluently-dressed thriving tropes of creative constituencies and locals; people who have been in and around this area.
This is an act of integration, not colonization. Names, faces, stories, an exchange of meaningful and thoughtful glances. What is alive in this place is attention, “No WiFi. Just new friends.” is phrase that positions itself with poise at the end of their ordering board.
What happens when we free up our attention? This, becoming carefully attuned to others and our relation to space. It’s a philosophy that’s embodied in the curated handmade plates, imported French water glasses, and “slow-living” Kinto coffee mugs.
Here we are, atop a wave.
Alex and I are perched on the top the bleachers, assembling the new menus. But more importantly, I’m witnessing the assemblage of his ideas 3 years in the making.
He remarks that despite living in different places of the world, there is something about Toronto that draws people altogether in the “new” spaces that open up. We are way behind certain metropoles of the world in some respects, yet cohesively we are concentrated in these pockets of culture to which individuals like Alex and his team delivers us. People come to experience other people, and exchange presence.
Encounters with design, people and self; paired with elevated food and drink, make this a place wher people are treated to kindness and sustenance.
679 Landsdowne Ave, south of Landsdowne Station.
Baddies — A real frontier.