DESIGN IN CANADA: Fitting it all together

Design in Canada is alive and well.

I make it no secret that my favourite part of IDS is and always will be Studio North and Prototype. This is where you get to experience design that is less about trends and more about design thinking and process.


Prototyping a chair from Tony Round on Vimeo.

The other reason I love Studio North and Prototype is because it showcases Canadian design talent. Walking into boutique hotels, urban restos and condo model suites in this country one might think that the only options out there for interior designers are the unchallenged classics. The result – a predictable bore often referencing designers who are cold in the grave. Le Corbusier is long gone but his furniture and overpriced knockoffs are as ubiquitous as ghosts on Halloween. In a world still dominated by Mies and Eames it’s always refreshing to see interior designers and architects take a chance on artists and designers who are still alive and kicking.

When we get the opportunity to see interior designers incorporate more locally sourced art and design the results are far more interesting. One recent example of designers who did just that is the stunning Skwachàys Lodge in Vancouver.“Skwachàys (pronounced skwatch-eyes) Lodge and Residence at 31 West Pender Street in Vancouver houses a fair trade gallery, boutique hotel and an urban Aboriginal artist residence. 

Owned and operated by the Vancouver Native Housing Society (VNHS), the facility provides 24 shelter rate apartments for Aboriginal people at risk of homelessness, and two social enterprises that support the Society’s mission and financial sustainability.

The top three floors contain 18 boutique hotel units for socially responsible travelers and Aboriginal patients travelling to Vancouver from remote areas to receive medical treatment. The hotel units have recently been transformed with the assistance of a team of artists, designers, and suppliers.

Find out more…

In Toronto we have the Gladstone Hotel. Along with rooms designed by artists the Gladstone is also regular venue for local art and design with events like Come Up To My Room, part of Toronto Design Offsite.

“Internationally recognized as Canada’s favourite Boutique Art Hotel, the Gladstone uniquely blends historical Victorian architecture with contemporary luxury, downtown culture and whole lot of art, making it an iconic Toronto hub for locals and international travelers alike.

Supporting 37 artist designed hotel rooms,  over 70 art exhibitions a year, 4 diverse event venue spaces and 2 restaurants, all on a strong values-based mandate, the Gladstone strives to foster an authentic experience for its guests and the local community.”

Find out more…

My discoveries at Toronto’s Interior Design Show.

Each designer featured below was someone I encountered at IDS 2015 who approached their design thoughtfully, thinking about how to take good design and snap it into place – simply and beautifully.

TAT CHAO

I have featured Tat Chao a couple of times on Mixed Bag Mag and have been a fan since falling in love with his up-cycled candle holders at the One of Kind Show a few years back. This year he arrived at IDS ’15 with products that flat pack well and assemble in seconds – “no glue, no screws.”

DIÈSE or “hashtag” in English “is a flower vase made from four pieces of 3mm clear acrylic and a test tube. The way the pieces are assembled will result in different shapes. No glue, no screws are necessary. Just slide the slots into each other.”

(view opening image to see how DIÈSE is configured into a hashtag)

“Part of the “NO GLUE NO SCREWS” series, TRIÈDRE is made from three pieces of laser cut acrylic and simply assembled together by sliding the slots into each other. The result is an ultra-modern and scuptural object where the content (fruits, vegetables, bread, etc) are beautifully displayed.”

Follow Tat and see more of his work:
Website – www.tatchao.com
Twitter – @tatchao
Instagram – @tatchao

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CUT AND FOLD

Another brilliant flat packer project is the Origami Chair by Cut and Fold (Andrea Kordos & Tony Round). One of the DesignLines loves selections this chair moves like the wings of a butterfly to flap lightly into place.

“The Origami Chair is inspired by papercraft – the idea that folding simple shapes can create amazing forms. We’ve designed the chair to be simple and beautiful. The origami chair’s nest-like shape is generous and ergonomic, while the thin baltic birch shell keeps it efficient and minimal. The facets of the shell are connected with piano hinges – this give the chair some flex for added comfort. The thin shell sits on top of an elegantly folded steel frame. It’s available in different finishes including natural wood veneer, solid-colour laminates, and leather or cowhide.”


The Origami Chair from Tony Round on Vimeo.

Follow Cut and Fold and see more of their work:
Website – www.cut-fold.com
Twitter – @CutFold

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EUGENE PAUNIL
Eugene has been on Mixed Bag Mag before but as a visual artist which is how I first encountered his work at the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibit many moons ago as well as more recently at Manifesto’s 2012 art show (see the eagle sculpture).

But Eugene’s first love is design and he attended OCAD U’s Industrial Design program. This year he brought “Light W8” to Prototype. An elegant idea, the light uses river rocks to displace the weight to adjust the height of the lamp. Designed for easy shipping the lamp comes apart and can be put back together will minimal effort.

Follow Eugene and see more of his work:
Website – www.eugenepaunil.com
Twitter – @eugenepaunil
Instagram – @paunilstudio

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GEOF RAMSAY
Geof, like Eugene and Tat, has also been on Mixed Bag Mag for a feature on IDS ’12. This year’s contribution to Prototype won him the award as well as DesignLines Magazine’s DesignLines loves badge. It’s when you are up close and personal with this chair, from the Euclid Collection, that you can see the stunning joinery and the hex motif reiterated.

“Inspired by the purity of geometric form, is a three part collection of products that fit together perfectly to create unique groupings and combinations. The forms of the hexagon, triangle and rhombus are repeated throughout the entirety of each piece, shaping the legs, profiles and joinery. The Euclid Collection is crafted from solid oak and is available in a natural or black satin finish.”

Follow Geof and see more of his work:

Website – www.geoframsay.com

Facebook – /geoframsaydesign
Twitter – @geoframsay

 

It’s a great time to consider Canadian and Indigenous designers and artists. There is more than enough talent here and it can feel good to invest your dollars in the business of someone you can actually speak with – whose blood is still warm in their veins. Knoll won’t shut down if a few Urbanites forego purchasing Saarinen’s design cliche of a table for their condo but as a buyer making that kind of decision may be enough to keep the next Ray Eames in business.


Cut and Fold at IDS15 from Tony Tound on Vimeo.

Above images of the Interior Design Show by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag. All other images provided by each designer.

TORONTO DESIGN OFFSITE: Quilter & Textile Designer Libs Elliott opens at Cutler and Gross

Growing up with Mennonite family around meant quilts were ever present. Because of this I can appreciate the work and the communal effort that go into these blankets that can fetch thousands of dollars at relief sales, but heir aesthetic, often full of feminine florals and wallflower palettes – not my thing. Then I saw Libs’ work – my kind of quilt! Using computer generated code and bold colour combinations Libs’ quilts are not about having a soft presence. They are loud and assertive.

Breaking with tradition while bending the boundaries of craft, technology and design, her creations are like a post-structural take on textiles. You could succinctly wrap up Jacques Derrida in one of these deconstructed babies.

Libs’ work is gorgeous and if you want to see more head over to Cutler and Gross (758 Queen St. W) to view her display “Wrap Yourself in Code” as part of Toronto Design Offsite.

Follow Libs on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

(Above image of Leah Snyder photographing Libs Elliott by Jay Wall)

Libs rocks some local designers below.

Ring by Vitaly
Brooch by Julie Moon
Glasses by Cutler and Gross

Libs’ quilt patterns were in collaboration with designer and technologist Joshua Davis. Read more about the process here.

Libs is seen here with Vivien Leung  (Pecha Kucha) and Jay Wall (“Reading/Writing the Junction” at Cut the Cheese)

Posts on Vivien and Jay to follow…!

#TODO15


Above images by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.

 

CROSSING THE LINE: Also Collective & Mason Studio Team Up To Explore Hybridity in Design Practice

Ad for Perimeter Series talk on hybridity in design practice

Two (or more) interdisciplinary heads are better then one!

A0 (ALSO Collective + Mason Studio) invites you to The Perimeter Series, the first of a series of panel discussions on issues related to contemporary design practices.

Hybrid Design: Collaboration in Practice is the topic of the first discussion and investigates the value of working in cross-disciplinary formats. The panelists will explain how collaborative efforts in their professional practices have informed their current work, their forecasts for the development of these processes, and the risks and issues in collaboration. The ideas expressed by the panelists will begin to explore if and how adaptive modifications are required in a Canadian context to facilitate collaboration in practice.”

The first event is hosted by the School of Interior Design at Ryerson University, and moderated by the Interior Design program ChairLois Weinthal. The panelist are:

Mark Argo (Aesthetec Studio)
Mike Lovas (PUSH Strength)
Marc De Pape (OCAD University)
Laura Fyles (Academy of Design)
Zaiba Mian (Humber College)

“The Perimeter Series was developed by AZero, the joint efforts of ALSO Collective and Mason Studio. The studios share philosophies of design, but originate from two distinct practices. ALSO occupies a space in digital media and graphic design, while Mason inhabits the domain of physical interior space. The Perimeter Series was developed as an opportunity to share in the conversation between the studios to explore a shift in the boundaries of design. Come take part in our discussions!”

This event is free, but registration is required. Please register by clicking here.

TO DO IT ALL AGAIN: Toronto Design Offsite Festival Closes Another Successful Year!

Yesterday I was suffering from a Design Week hangover. So many openings, so many events! How to cure a hangover? Well, I know there are some people out there that would advise to just have another drink.  ‘Drink’ I did. And it worked. The final few hours of Design Week and TO DO were some of the best and included Kaleido’cadu, Imm Living’s annual “Not ForkChops” show, MADE Design on Dundas St. West as part of DO Design, “Light It Up” at Cooper Cole Gallery and the perfect night cap – String Theory‘s PatternPattern show at Graven Feather. Wow!

There was a biting wind and messy slush but my day closed on a happy note and I share with you here TO DO‘s Finale.

Looking forward to doing it all again in 2015!












All images by Leah Snyder for MIXED BAG MAG.

LIST OF VENUES:

  1. “Redesigned Medalta” at Made Design
  2. “Redesigned Medalta” at Made Design
  3. “Not ForkChops” at Hashtag Gallery
  4. “Come Up To My Room” at The Gladstone Hotel
  5. “Come Up To My Room” at The Gladstone Hotel
  6. “Come Up To My Room” at The Gladstone Hotel
  7. PatternPattern by String Theory at Graven Feather 
  8. PatternPattern by String Theory at Graven Feather
  9. “Patchworked in Canada” by Dear Human at TO DO Festival Hub at Bosley Real Estate 
  10. “Light It Up” at Cooper Cole Gallery
  11. “Light It Up” at Cooper Cole Gallery
  12. “Hand & Machine” at Ontario Crafts Council
  13. BEFORE shot of the Clint Roenisch Gallery and “Dossier: Sheridan Grad Furniture”
  14. AFTER shot of the Clint Roenisch Gallery

RETROACTIVE: A Look Back at Derek McLeod at the Toronto Design Offsite Festival

Iconographic design right here at home. 

As beautiful as an Eames or van der Rohe chair is right now in Toronto we have what could easily be the next new wave of iconic designers working amongst us. Derek McLeod is one such designer. His work is flawless but without that precious and inaccessible feeling that design can sometimes leave you with.

Not only a furniture designer, Derek also creates beautiful objects – tables and lighting –  which all blend in seamlessly with his furniture.

With such great designers milling around the city it’s necessary to continue to build a community of support to foster what is a growing design movement, not just in Toronto, but across Canada.

In Mason Studio’s interview last year with Derek they ask him “how can Canada develop a design identity on an international stage?” Derek replies:

“There is a funding model in place for various arts and craft based practices in Ontario and Canada, though they are specific about the works not being commercial, i.e. design. It would be fantastic to have the municipal government try to push local manufacturing and design or have the provincial or federal government aim to create more value out of some of the resources available here, i.e. wood that can be turned into furniture instead of being shipped away as planks.”

Close up of a dark wood chair, people standing behing it talking“Sum Chair” by Derek McLeod, Prototype Section of IDS ’12. Image by Leah Snyder.

Ditch Home Sense. Shop on Dundas!

Another way to support Toronto designers is to shop local for all the things you require for your home. Queen West and King East are the more established design hubs but you can also find amazing design in Parkdale, along Queen East or Dundas West, Ossington (between Dundas / Queen) and in The Junction.

This weekend at the Interior Design Show (IDS) you can head to the Studio North / Prototype and the DesignBoom Mart sections to not only see the latest designs by this city’s creative geniuses but also talk to the makers! To know the person you purchase your piece from is an extra bonus that the Big Box stores will never be able to offer. Also check out the Creative Class section to see what student designers are dreaming up and prototyping.

In the background “Frill Table” by Derek McLeod at Shiny Pretty Things show, Cooper Cole Gallery, TO DO ’13. Image by Leah Snyder.

The Toronto Design Offsite Festival plays a huge role in promoting local talent. Derek’s work has been featured each year in shows like 2013’s Shiny Pretty Things, 2012’s The Associates, 2011’s Tools and 2010’s Heavy Metal. These shows have been beautifully organized by architect / designer Joy Charbonneau another amazing contributor to the design scene here in Toronto as well as one of the co-founders of TO DO.



Sometimes Joy and Derek team up always resulting in something stunning, like their Tufted Bench which can be seen during TO DO at the Ontario Crafts Council.

“This wooden bench makes use of the shaping capabilities of a CNC machining centre to create a surface that emulates tufted upholstery. The top started as a simple slab laminated together with planks cut to match the width of the tufts. The shallow concave ‘pillows’ would present a significant challenge to fabricate with typical woodworking techniques, thus the CNC was employed to sculpt the wood surface. The legs were also fabricated in the same machine by cutting half of the profile, flipping it over into a custom fixture and cutting the other half.  Hand sanding and an oil finish complete the bench.”  See more about the chair here…

Tufted Wood
Dark wood bench with the top part resembling tufted cushion

If you haven’t already checked out TO DO in past years then this is the year to get out and find out how truly talented Toronto is.

Derek will be showing as part of the Light It Up Show at Cooper Cole Gallery. Opening reception is tonight from 6 – 10 pm and will continue through to Sunday.

Be prepared to see something brilliant!

See more work at www.derekmcleod.com


All images of Derek McLeod’s work, unless otherwise noted, provided by Joy Charbonneau.

 

MATERIAL GIRLS: Quebec Designers Basma Osama & Marie-Jose Gustave Romance Their Media

Large grouping of white bowls and plates

When one of my favourite Quebec Designers, Tat Chao, introduced me to the work of Basma Osama (Ceramik B.) and Marie-José Gustave I was struck by how loyal they both were to their material of choice. These women are faithful to their muse!

Basma’s silky white work is easy on the eyes. Her bowls,cups and dishes evoke a handsome elegance which I am sure makes the food caressed inside look all the more tantalizing. But the real stunner is her piece The Letter No. 1. Assembled with over 1000 pieces of hand-thrown porcelain it is without comparison!

Small organically shaped white porcelain shapes placed into 3 panels of wood hanging on a wall

“Inspired from a handwritten personal letter, Letter No. 1 carries a language that goes beyond visual perception. The elements of this language aim to reach, to call out to the reader and invite interaction. Emotions and thoughts come through two simultaneous rhythms: a linear rhythm, punctuated by spaces that allow the content of this letter to physically place itself. And the rhythm of curves, unique to each element, give each sign its meaning, as words often do. The shapes of these organic elements, coming out of the wooden support, act as the conveyors of meaning. The support, made of local walnut wood, supports the text and underlines it as a language sign.”

Close up of small white porcelain shapes placed into holes in wood like pegs
Small organically shaped white porcelain shapes placed into 3 panels of wood hanging on a wall

Basma was lead to  porcelain because of a need to “work with a refined type of clay” as well as desire to “submit to its whimsical character.” Her loyalty to porcelain? “Because I love it! I meticulously craft it and work on its texture, and it gives it back, every time!” Her muse is as faithful to her as she is to it!

When asked what is special about this material as opposed to other materials she has worked with she replies “I like its texture, its density, its colour, the way it behaves in the kiln…and the way it reasserts how humble I have to remain when I use it.”

And when I inquire if there is a romance she has with the material she emphatically answers “Yes, a huge one! One of many years, many events, many stories and I would not exchange it for any other clay!”

White plates, bowls and saucers
Upclose image of corrogated cardboard wrapped and stitched together in a pillar form

Beautifully blurring craft and design.

Marie-José Gustave’s objects and furniture merge design with craft. She says that she has always been inspired by and has a passion for craft. This led her to master in clothing production as well as to develop a skill set that includes sewing, knitting, and weaving along with paper molding. But her love affair with cardboard came from a more practical encounter. Upon moving to Quebec from France and wondering what to do with all the boxes that remained as evidence of her transition she began to experiment with the material that had now taken up residency in her new home. The boxes never left and instead motivated her to create what is now a strong body of work that shows the beauty of this humble material.

Pillars of cardboard sticted together and hanging in store window

I have always adored the textural richness of cardboard. I have used it in my own art practice so it makes sense that I would gravitate to Marie-José‘s work but what I found fresh was the way she manipulated the cardboard. That is what ultimately seduced me. She has taken this material to another level and has prototyped a new way of thinking about cardboard as a valid choice of material for decor and design. “I love the challenge of diverting the material to make it soft and flexible, find its transparency, shape it the way I want.” She definitely has a lover’s touch!


Above images provided by artists Basma Osama and Marie-José Gustave. Image of Marie-José by Stéphanie Lamy.

See Basma and Marie-José‘s work Thursday through until Sunday at Toronto’s Interior Design Show. They are located in the Studio North Section (Booth SN20) and are featured as part of a collective of Quebec Designers QC DESIGN.




Images of QC Design at IDS’ Studio North by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.

RETROACTIVE: A Look Back at Christopher Solar at the Interior Design Show, Toronto

Dark wood, square framed rocker with green cushioning

Sourcing out the newest work by Canadian Designers at IDS’s Studio North.

My introduction to Christopher Solar was at IDS 2012. Not surprisingly his Plantation Redux chair was tagged by a DESIGN LINE’s Love Tag because how could you not want to lie back and snuggle up close to this one!

Each year it seems the Christopher doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to stunning us with what is just good old craftsmanship and quality!

2013 it was his Tilde chairs, one with the edgy twist (or weave) of seatbelt-like webbing, the other with classic Danish cord.

“This low-back dining chair features crisp lines and subtle curves in the back and the hand-woven seat. The chair has been meticulously designed for comfort and solidly-constructed from carefully selected hardwoods. Many different combinations of frame materials and webbing colours are available.”

This year Christopher is unveiling the Number 7 Lounge and Rocker for #IDS14.

Come see them in the “flesh” Thursday night, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at this year’s Interior Design Show in the Studio North sectionThe Best in Canadian Design!

Square framed seat with light wood and gray cushioning
Light wood dining room chairs
Dark wood lounge chair and foot stool with light coloured cording
Above images provided by Christopher Solar.

SAVE THE DATE: Dance & Design on the Schedule this January in Toronto

Left image neck piece by Bin Dixon Ward provided by TO DO. See the necklace at TO DO’s Digital Promises Show. Right image Ritmo Flamenco provided by Dance Ontario.

JANUARY 9 – 19: JACK YOUR BODY (PART OF NEXT STAGE FESTIVAL 2014)

“Jack Your Body is a high-energy dance performance that pays homage to American street dance culture. The cast poses, struts, waacks and jacks their way through soul train, paradise garage and other iconic street dance scenarios. Issues of race, gender and social status come into focus during this dynamic dance piece that explores the evolution of underground social dances from the 70s-90s.” More info…

WHERE: Factory Mainspace on 125 Bathurst St, Toronto
HOW MUCH: $15, purchase tickets here
Follow on Facebook and twitter @Mixmixdance and join Facebook Event Page

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JANUARY 17 – 19: DANCEWEEKEND BY DANCE ONTARIO

“Dance Ontario’s Dance Weekend takes place annually at the Fleck Dance Theatre, Harbourfront, and features an incredible line-up of dance artists over three days.” More info…

WHERE: Fleck Dance Theatre, 207 Queens Quay W, Toronto. View map here.
HOW MUCH: All the dance you can handle for $10 a day or $25 for weekend pass!
Click here for Full Schedule

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JANUARY 20 – 26: TORONTO DESIGN OFFSITE FESTIVAL (aka TO DO)

“The Toronto Design Offsite Festival (TO DO) is a not-for-profit, independent design festival happening annually at the end of January. TO DO’s aim is to provide exposure for local and national designers; to foster public understanding and knowledge of the practice of design; and to create an ongoing presence that promotes Canada’s creativity, drawing on great thinkers, practitioners, and educators to a deliver an innovative celebration of art and design.” More info…

WHERE: All over the Downtown core & beyond, view the full map here!
HOW MUCH: Unless specified most events are FREE!
Click here for Full Schedule

 

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JANUARY 23 – 26: COME UP TO MY ROOM (aka CUTMR as part of TO DO)

“Come up to My Room is the Gladstone Hotel’s annual alternative design event. CUTMR invites artists and designers to show us what goes on inside their heads. Coming together in dialogue and collaboration, participants are limited only by their imaginations, making CUTMR one of the most exciting shows in Toronto.” More info…

WHERE: The Gladstone Hotel,1214 Queen St. W, Toronto
HOW MUCH: $10 ($5 for students on January 24th)
Click here for Full Archive of Past CUTMR Events

 

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JANUARY 23 – 24: THE INTERIOR DESIGN SHOW

“The Interior Design Show is Canada’s premier showcase of new products, innovative designers and avant-garde concepts from North America and beyond. For one weekend each January, the city of Toronto is filled with industry superstars, cutting-edge emerging names, design-savvy consumers and top media outlets. And for 3.5 action-packed days, the Interior Design Show shapes the design world for the year to come.” Read more...

WHERE: Metro Toronto Convention Centre (North Building)
HOW MUCH: $19 per day advanced or $22 per day at the door
Click here for Full Schedule

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JANUARY THROUGH TO FEBRUARY: 100% TOBEUS – 100 DESIGNERS FOR 100 NEW TOY CARS

“TobeUs was born as a vent of a designer who became a father and could not stand the sight of his own children using toys for just a few hours and then destroying them or stopping looking at them.This is how the idea of TobeUs was born: toy cars made of wood, strong and sweet-scented, beautiful and clever because they are planned by skillful and passionate designers.” Read more…

WHERE: Design Exchange at 234 Bay St. View map here.
HOW MUCH: Adults $10, Students & Seniors $8

TO DO 2014 Promo Video from Toronto Design Offsite Festival on Vimeo.