“We had just moved to Vancouver from London, UK and spent our second day exploring the city,” noted Fredrik. “We found Gastown and were really enjoying the vibe when we walked past a vacant shop. We looked at each other and said – wow, what a beautiful façade, wouldn’t it be nice to open a shop here.”
That night, the pair began researching Vancouver’s retail market and making plans for their own boutique. And while commercial realtors tried to show them available spaces in other neighbourhoods, they stuck firm on the spot they’d seen in Gastown.
In July 2010, Fredrik and Julie opened the doors to Örling & Wu, a trusted source for design-led gifts and home décor in Canada. “The intention was to share our love for all beautiful things and to support small businesses and designers from around the world who shared similar values.”
In the past five years, a few things have changed. Properties around them have been developed, many new businesses have opened and they’ve had a front row seat to the return of the Gastown Grand Prix – a favourite event for Fredrik. Inside the store, it’s been all hands on deck as they work together with clients and behind the scenes to grow their business.
Örling & Wu strives to improve lives through products that work well, are affordable and look beautiful. With a focus on accessorizing and decor, the shop is known for enviable table settings, inspired gifts and in-depth service. They’re also long regarded as one of the best spots in the city to get wallpaper.
“Wallpaper can be daunting, so I always recommend that you start with one wall in one room instead of doing it all at once,” explains Fredrik. “Build a mood board, either with magazine clippings or on Pinterest, know your budget and plan to hire professional installers who will do it right the first time.”
In the past few months, Fredrik and Julie have continued to expand the collections they stock. Over the holidays, they added pet products to the shop after bringing home their own bundle of fluff, Mocha, and struggling to find quality accessories that fit her needs and the aesthetics of their home.
Other departments that have grown include linens and stationary. The Linge Particulier collection of stonewashed linen duvet covers and sheets is well known for its soft, eco-friendly properties. And on the stationary front, the shop has expanded with two new Japanese suppliers and added Midori journals for discerning travellers.
By next month, Örling & Wu will be redecorated with a summer market atmosphere in honour of both the start of season and the fifth anniversary. The pair are currently preparing for a couple private events featuring Swedish nibbles, dessert canapés from Mosquito, and Kusmi Tea cocktails to mark the milestone. They are also giving away 100 tote bags made from interior design fabric remnants by a Kwantlen fashion graduate.
The anniversary falls at the start of a season that often inspires changes in décor. If it’s time to refresh your own home for the warmer weather, Fredrik has some advice.
“Make sure the outdoor areas are as pretty as the indoor. New plants, planters and patio furniture go a long way, while fresh flowers in a beautiful vase can breathe life into a room.”
And if you’re looking for a more serious revamp, he recommends reupholstering an old chair or sofa, adding some new toss cushions, investing in luxurious towels and updating your bedding.
“The key is to splurge a little on a few items that you’ve always wanted. Small updates can make a big difference if you do it right.”