Kanso: Obsession for Timeless Design

Jason Duke, proprietor of Kanso.

Eighteenth Street between Baltimore and Wyandotte is a hive of creative, independent retail, including a string of shops down the alley. At the last door on the left, you’ll discover Kanso. Lest you think it’s a creative misspelling of Kansas, the website informs that it’s a Japanese zen principle meaning “Simplicity or elimination of clutter. Things are expressed in a plain, simple, natural manner.” Kanso is the brainchild of Jason Duke, to satisfy his desire for a store of curated, well-designed objects that reflect his love for contemporary Japanese and Scandinavian design.

Left to right: Menu Sweeper and Funnel, $60. Normann Copenhagen Tumbler Alarm Clock, $95. Collapsible strainer, $36. JWDA Lamp by Jonas Wagell, $250.

Walking into the diminutive store is a breath of fresh air. Tall ceilings, crisp white walls, a large window with sun streaming in, and objects artfully displayed on spare wooden tables or white shelves that line the room. 

Each exquisitely designed item is functional, timeless, and unique. Coffee cups that can be cradled in your hand. Something as mundane as a strainer resembles a piece of abstract art. And sweeping would be almost a pleasure using the dustpan and ash-wood brush from Denmark.

Duke’s obsession for timeless design that enhances everyday life is evident. And Kanso is an excellent reflection of that.

Left to right: A tightly edited collection of wares on display. Kanso storefront. The Crossroads alley is home to several shops.
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