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

black stroke

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

black stroke

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

black stroke

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.

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.

DESIGN & DANCE: Let the weekend begin!

wood table with metal bases shaped like wishbonesWishbone Table by Alan Hindle of Stacklab.

DANCE WEEKEND & DESIGN WEEK!

DanceWeekend’14 by Dance Ontario is here! Starting tonight at  7pm at Fleck Dance Theatre some of the best dancers and choreographers in Toronto will be showcasing their work through until Sunday evening. For the price of $10 per day you can drop in and see the talent.

And the work week begins with Toronto Design Offsite Festival kicking off and carrying us through to next Sunday.

All the best every day for the next 10 days!

Get all the info here!

woman with antlers held up framing her face
Santee Smith of Kaha:wi Dance

 

IDS TRADE TALKS: FYI on Tomorrow’s Speakers

Headshots of Jerszy Seymour and Jurgen Mayer H.
Designer Jerszy Seymour and architect Jurgen Mayer H. Images courtesy IDS.

IDS is celebrating the 14th Anniversary of the Azure Trade Talks!

These industry talks gather together designers, architects, decorators and urban planners. Always informative, treat yourself to a day of expanding your knowledge while surrounded by the best in Canadian design.

JERSZY SEYMOUR

“A designer’s designer, Jerszy Seymour has created an eccentric and edgy body of work. Uninterested in definitions, he crosses boundaries, producing interiors, architecture, fashion, and products with ease and abandon. Read more…

JURGEN MAYER H.

 “[Jurgen] focuses on the intersections of architecture: the grey zones where architecture blurs into art, embraces technology and new materials, and excites visitors to be inspired by the built environment around them.” Read more….

Also, on the schedule, Canadian born UK based Philippe Malouin & Canadian born Tokyo based Oki Sato  IDS’s International Guest of Honour for this year’s show.

MIXED BAG MAG is looking forward to an informative day of cross-cultural exchanges regarding contemporary architecture and design.

For more information on IDS visit www.interiordesignshow.com or follow on Facebook & twitter @IDSToronto & #IDS13.

Headshots of Oki Sato and Philippe MalouinDesigner & architect Oki Sato and designer Philippe Malouin. Images courtesy IDS.

Postmodern structure by Jurgen Mayer H. and table made of cement and metal by Philippe MalouinArchitecture by Jurgen Mayer H (top) & table by Philippe Malouin (bottom). Images courtesy IDS.

CAN-CON: Studio North & Prototype at IDS

designers standing at the Prototype section of the Interior Design Show Prototype at IDS 2012 with Derek McLeod Sum Chair Lounge in foreground. Image by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.

Proudly Canadian at the Interior Design Show!

My favourite part of IDS? Seeing what the home-grown talent has to offer. Last year I was romanced by Christopher Solar’s Plantation Chair Redux (see below) among other equally beautiful suitors from the Brothers Dressler, Mani Mani, and Derek McLeod. View my post on my love affair with the chair here!

Plantation Chair Redux by Christopher SolarPlantation Chair Redux by Christopher Solar. Image by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.Chair by Brothers Dressler for the Interior Design Show Re-imagined Stam/Breuer Chairs by Brothers Dressler. Image by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.Wood and metal chair by designer Mani Mani
Cortical Chair by Mani Mani of fishtnk. Image by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag. 

This year I am excited to see Christopher Solar’s newest design, the Tilde Chair, in the “flesh”, as well as this sexy design, the Nadine Chair by Composite Angle.

Chair made of metal and wood combination
Nadine Chair (top) by Composite Angle and Tilde Chair by Christopher Solar (bottom). Images courtesy IDS.

Table tops the list.

But I think this year is going to be less about the chair and more about the table.

Wooden coffee table and writing desk One Two Three Table by Eho Eho (top) and writing desk by Studio Garneau (bottom). Images courtesy IDS.

Table with glass top and curved wood frameKo Table by In Elements. Image courtesy IDS.

Moving away from neutral territory.

As much as we Canadian’s love our neutrals Geof Ramsay and Projector Design inject some colour into the mix.

Little blue and larger red table with cut-out sides resembling the layout of streets on a mapYou Are Here Table by Geof Ramsay. Images courtesy IDS.

“You Are Here is a formal exploration of physical place met with the application o f mass customization to furniture design.  Any geographic footprint, abstracted into its essential positive and negative space, can be laser cut to create a one-of-a-kind piece for each individual.” Read more on www.geoframsay.com

Brilliant blue topped metal desk
001 Desk by Projector Design. Image courtesy IDS.

For more information on IDS visit www.interiordesignshow.com or follow on Facebook & twitter @IDSToronto & #IDS13.

Logo for IDS the Interior Design Show

WHAT “TO DO”? Toronto Design Offsite This Week!

Part of DO Design, Toronto Design Offsite, window of Saving Grace

Toronto Design Offsite (TO DO) Festival entering its 3rd year with over 40 exhibits around town

It’s going to be cold so why not warm your heart with inspiration by taking in some of the many exhibits that will be part of Toronto Design Offsite 2013. From “unexpected prototypes to immersive installations”, this festival that showcases emerging Canadian Design is growing in leaps and bounds every year. It’s taking over the city and supporting a growing design community both locally and nationally.

Click here for the full festival schedule online as well as downloadable PDF to plan your week into the weekend.

Get the map & the app!

Map of locations in Toronto for Toronto Design Offsite

Here are some visual highlights from last year – eye candy along Dundas Street West  for DO Design, one of the many events for Toronto Design Offsite.

Storefronts along Dundas West for DO DesignFlyer for DO Design in window of abandoned shop.Store front along Dundas West for DO Design along with graffiti on an alley wall. Detail of design in the shops on Dundas West Storefront of Cooper Cole Gallery along Dundas West

Another event from Toronto Design Offsite 2012 – the opening of Forty Oaks Community Centre, Regent Park showcasing the furniture and design provided by Public Displays of Affection.

Stained Glass for Public Displays of Affection at Forty Oaks Community Centre

“Led by Design Director Parimal Gosai, Public Displays of Affection (PDA)  is a Toronto-based organization that is furnishing the low income housing development 40 Oaks with sustainable custom designed furniture…The custom designed furnishings were created by local design gurus such as Brothers DresslerStudio JunctionRob SouthcottParimal GosaiMADEKathryn Walter and over 28 more professional designers and students…PDA produced furniture and design elements in three ways: by engaging with local community stakeholders in workshops, by recruiting custom designed donations by designers, craftspeople, artists, furniture makers and architects, and by recruiting donations and workshop facilitation by post secondary students and their institutions.” (cited from www.publicdisplaysofaffection.ca)

Read more about the 40 Oaks Project for Toronto Design Offsite here.

Table showcased at Public Displays of Affection with crowd of guestsTable and textile art on display Chair design with guests for Forty Oaks opening

If you are looking for some online content to supplement your experience along with TO DO’s blog of festival Sneak Peeks Toronto design team MASON STUDIO has a great 12 part series featuring the designers, artists and organizers of TO DO.

Yesterday’s post featured Shaun Moore and Julie Nicholson of MADE.

“Everything we do as MADE is about engagement and working for more and more people to understand the kind of work we represent as well as produce ourselves- as an independent design company, this contributes to our making a living.  TO DO works towards engagement within the design community and simultaneously reaches out to a wider audience in Toronto and beyond, so it’s like riding a bigger wave.”  Read more on the MASON STUDIO Journal

Follow along with TO DO on Facebook & twitter @TODesignOffsite.

Storefront of MADE with Canadian designsSome of the beautiful furniture and design objects in MADESome of the beautiful furniture and design objects in MADE
Some of the beautiful furniture and design objects in MADE
Photography by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.