Walrus Design
By Jesse Donaldson

A Pleasant Surprise in the Heart of Cambie Village

For Walrus Design co-owners Daniel Kozlowski and Caroline Boquist, their business began with one simple question: “We just sat down and asked ourselves: 'what do we love?'” Caroline says.

“We both worked together for a small product design company,” Daniel adds. “We loved accessories and design, but we'd always worked for other people. We wanted to do our own thing.”

Since opening Walrus in 2009, they've been doing their “own thing” quite successfully, providing worldly Vancouverites with a thoughtfully curated selection of housewares and personal items from designers both local and international, all placed on display in an upscale, boutique environment.

We have a really great community of people around us. We're really lucky, and grateful for them. It's a joy to come in. - Caroline Boquist, co-owner
A collection of ceramics from local artisans on display at Walrus Design
Walrus' shelves feature a diverse array of personal items and housewares, including art, ceramics, bags, and clothing.

From Ceramics to Toy Robots

Walrus' offerings are as diverse as they are fascinating – everything from Danish-made slippers, to toy robots, to ceramics, to cocktail syrups, to scented candles inspired by Vancouver neighbourhoods.

Daniel and Caroline bring years of combined experience to the table – having previously worked in sales and marketing and purchasing for other companies –  and entered into the planning phase for Walrus with artist and designer relationships already firmly in mind. And while their initial offering was more European than local, that has since evolved into a split that's roughly 50/50.

“We have a lot of friends who are designers or artists,” Caroline notes. “And part of our idea was to be a voice for those people, and create a space for graphic design, art and industrial design. When we first opened, it was predominantly European, and only a handful of local artists. But it's grown so much. And that was always intended to be a part of it.”

A helpful robot points the way in the Walrus Design showroom
Walrus offers a range of unique, design-forward products for shoppers of all ages.

Thoughtful Design; Artful Curation

By all accounts, the neighbourhood has been welcoming these past seven years, with clientele ranging in age from seven to 70 (and beyond). The store's growth has been steady, resulting in more local collaboration, more customers, and now an online shop, established in 2015, for those who can't make it to the brick-and-mortar location.

“We wanted longevity and community,” Caroline says, of their Mount Pleasant location. “And there are people in the neighbourhood – kids who started shopping here when they were 12, who are now off to university. It's really diverse. And then, a lot of older people – people who are well-travelled. They've been seeing the same things over and over again, but then they come in here and they say: 'This is so delightful. I don't see stuff like this very often'.”

And for both Caroline and Daniel, that enthusiasm is mutual, a love for the products they sell and the neighbourhood they serve that has yet to wane.

“We're still very involved,” Daniel says with a grin. “And you know what? We still love it. And it's still fun.”

“We have a really great community of people around us,” Caroline adds. “We're really lucky, and grateful for them. It's a joy to come in.”

Walrus Design carries locally made cocktail syrups
Locally made cocktail syrups are a favourite item among at-home bartenders.
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