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.

MIXED BAG MAG IN OTTAWA: What’s Happening This Week!

While in Ottawa this summer to cover Sakahàn at the National Gallery I discovered  a lot about this city that I love so I decided I needed to spend more than a weekend and more than a week – why not an entire month?!

Turns out I came at a great time! Despite the dull November sky there are some vibrant events happening this week.

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Chikonzero Chazunguza, “Tigere Muupfu?/Sitting Pretty?”, 2013, at Gallery 101 from Gallery 101 on Vimeo.

WED @ GALLERY 101

Workshop Wednesdays
Fish scale art making with Ottawa based Métis artist Jaime Koebel
6-9pm
$10 open to max of 8 people

Bounty/Abondance
Solo Exhibition by Chikonzero (Chiko) Chazunguza curated by Pamela Edmonds (Third Space Art Projects)

Oct 25 to November 30, 2013

“Bounty is a solo exhibition of recent work by artist Chikonzero (Chiko) Chazunguza exploring his subversive take on the ongoing inequalities of exchange between contemporary Africa and the Western world. This installation brings together a series of paintings, photographic images as well as a performative work that reflects on the artist’s experiences living and working across three continents (Africa, Europe and Canada).”

~Pamela Edmonds

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THURS @ OTTAWA ART GALLERY

“Aboriginal scholar, poet and writer, Armand Garnet Ruffo previews his forthcoming book based on the life and art of Norval Morrisseau! The book combines the mythic world of Ojibway storytelling with evocative realism to tell the amazing story of the artist’s life. The reading will be accompanied by a visual presentation of the artist’s paintings.”

Join Facebook Event Here!

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THURS, FRI & SAT @ CANADA’S NATIONAL ARTS CENTRE

Akram Khan is truly one of the most visionary dancers / choreographers of our time.. Experiencing his work at Luminato 2011 has been one of the highlights of my life!

(TIP – visit his website. The intro is a stunner!)

More info on the event on their NAC’s website. Purchase tickets online here.

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THURS, FRI, SAT & SUN @ GALERIE SAW GALLERY

ART STAR 5

Video Art Biennial / Biennale de vidéo d’art

November 14 – 17, 2013

Galerie SAW Gallery + Club SAW

Single screenings: $5 / Biennial all-access pass: $15

“Now in its fifth edition, the Art Star Video Art Biennial is a unique platform for artists and curators working with moving images to connect and exchange in the national capital. Under the theme of Witness and Testify, Art Star highlights practices rooted in place, intimacy, and broader questions of social movements and collective histories. Over four days, SAW hosts screenings, social events, and masterclasses with video artists from around the planet, and curators culled from our vibrant local milieu. We’re thrilled to be partnering this year with the Media Arts Network of Ontario for their national conference, Evolve or Perish, which will add a special contingent of media artists, programmers, and theorists to the mix. Join us as we celebrate art’s potential to effect social change and challenge our assumptions of the world around us.”

Join Facebook Event Here!\

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THURS ONGOING TO DEC 1 @ LIBRARY & ARCHIVES

The European Film Festival

“World-class, award-winning, and Oscar-submitted films from 27 countries across the European Union!

Special guests welcomed this year include Tahar Rahim, lead actor from the Cannes-selected Grand Central (France), as well as Matthias Drescher, producer of the acclaimed drama Shifting the Blame (Germany).

Other festival evenings will be introduced with exclusive video greetings from filmmakers or actors, and many nights are followed by complimentary Embassy receptions. All of the films shown are Ottawa premieres, presented at the Auditorium of 395 Wellington St., Ottawa (Library and Archives Canada building).”
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FRI @ ABORIGINAL ART CENTRE (GATINEAU)

Artist Talk by Jason Baerg speaking on Aboriginal Expressions: National Capital Commission Confederation Boulevard Banners 2013

Aboriginal Art Centre Aboriginal Affairs, Room 928, 10 Wellington St

11:30 am

View the Gallery of all the banners.

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ALL THIS WEEK @ BYTOWNE CINEMA

Some great films are opening this week at the Bytowne Cinema like Oil Stands Karaoke and A Touch of Sin

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Want to know all about what is happening in both the Canadian and International Culture scene?  Like us on Facebook or follow on Twitter @mixedbagmag!

 

VISUAL MEDICINE: Andrew Dexel Opening @ Neubacher Shor Contemporary in Toronto

Change of Seasons by Andrew (Enpaauk) Dexel. Acrylic on Canvas. Image from Neubacher Shor Contemporary.

“The explosion of colour is a form of medicine”

It’s fitting that Andrew Dexel’s work should follow MIXED BAG MAG’s post on the Journey of Nishiyuu. Andrew is another example of how young Aboriginal voices are getting our attention regarding the importance of referencing Indigenous Knowledge as a source for solutions to today’s problems.

Hailing from Vancouver, Andrew is from the Nlaka’pamux Nation. His work acknowledges the clash of values we have in Canada yet in its own way bridges the gap as he soothes the viewer with an artistic remedy.

“My work relates my spiritual path; my journey. I express the inspiration lovingly given to me through teachings and stories from my elders and mentors. My work embodies the powerful visions that I have been given through these teachings. I am grateful. My work is a modern expression embodying the symbolic abstract inspired by my home: Coast Salish Territory.” Andrew (Enpaauk) Dexel

Tomorrow evening in Toronto at the Neubacher Shor Contemporary Gallery in Parkdale Andrew’s show “Nooaitch” opens. As one of the artists featured in the online version of Beat Nation: Hip Hop as Indigenous Culture as well as the exhibition at SAW gallery in Ottawa, this solo show of Andrew’s work compliments the Beat Nation show currently on at The Power Plant.

Colourful painting down in Contemporary West Coast Art style Colourful painting down in West Coast Art style Colourful painting in the West Coast Style

“A fusion between graffiti and North West Coast Art”

“Ceremony and spirit, transformative art and ancient knowledge, these are themes throughout Nlaka’pamux artist, Andrew Dexel’s work…the voices of younger artists like Dexel who are working to fuse indigenous perspectives, aesthetics and tradition within new forms and materials are the cutting edge of ‘Native’ art. Dexel’s earlier work with graffiti art and street art led him to looking more diligently at Westcoast formline design and really solidified his ideas in line work. His unique palette, comes in part from this graffiti reference and also from the world of ceremony, the explosion of colour is a form of medicine, blowing up our expectations and creating new forms and ideas with diverse starting points. One part medicine, one part magic Dexel’s new body of work continues his exploration in healing and indigenous plant wisdom and ceremonial culture, with the beauty of his lines, the hopefulness of his palette and the spiritual animism that populate his canvasses.” ~ Tania Willard (co-curator of Beat Nation)

Andrew is part of a growing movement of contemporary Aboriginal artists who hover in the in-between space of traditional and modern. These artists blend together indigenous knowledge of healing  with a street smart aesthetic. It is here that  Andrew (Enpaauk) Dexel moves fluidly. He offers us “visual medicine.” Experience the healing.

Dexel’s new body of work continues his exploration in healing and indigenous plant wisdom and ceremonial culture”

Andrew’s new work at Nooaitch show

www.visualmedicine.ca | En Paa Uk Flickr Stream

WEDNESDAY NIGHT…
Opening Reception for Andrew Dexel: Nooaitch
Neubacher Shor Contemporary 6 – 9pm
(Show runs until April 27)
5 Brock Avenue, Toronto, M6K 2K6

Map to Neubacher Shor Contemporary

Logo that reads Neubacher Shor Contemporary

Acrylic painting on wood in West Coast Art styleRaven Child by Andrew (Enpaauk) Dexel. Acrylic on Crated Wood Panel. Image from Neubacher Shor Contemporary.

Star Nation by Andrew (Enpaauk) Dexel. Acrylic on Canvas. Image provided by Neubacher Shor Contemporary.

BEAT NATION: Art, Hip Hop and Aboriginal Culture @ The Power Plant

Contemporary Aboriginal art in a large gallery space with white wallsInstallation view of Beat Nation: Art, Hip Hop and Aboriginal Culture at The Power Plant, Toronto. 15 December 2012 – 5 May 2013. Photo by Toni Hafkenscheid.

EXHIBITION – Beat Nation: Art, Hip Hop and Aboriginal Culture
Exhibit runs until May 5, 2013.

More info on The Power Plant website
Also on The Toronto Star – “Beat Nation:Art, Hip Hop and Aboriginal Culture at the Power Plant: Review”

Contemporary Aboriginal art in a large gallery space with white walls
Installation view of Beat Nation: Art, Hip Hop and Aboriginal Culture at The Power Plant, Toronto. 15 December 2012 – 5 May 2013. Photo by Toni Hafkenscheid.

EXHIBITION: Shelley Niro at Centre 3 in Hamilton

Black woman and aboriginal woman standing in front of art work
Curator Sally Frater with artist Shelley Niro. Image from Gallery 44.

EXHIBITION – M: Stories of Women
A series of digital photo-montages curated by Sally Frater
Exhibit runs until February 23

173 James Street North, Hamilton, Ontario, L8R 2K9
Gallery hours: Wednesday to Saturday 11 am – 5 pm

More info on Akimbo & Centre 3

Mixed media collage of Aboriginal Woman with wind turbines and upside down trees bordering the image
Work by Shelley Niro. Image from Akimbo.

AN ARCHAEOLOGY OF KNOWLEDGE: Digging Down into the Layers of Institutional Information

A view with the fall colours just outside Ottawa in Chelsea.

Back from the Nation’s Capital!

The one thing I love about living above the 49th parallel is the experience of seasons. Although the fall represents the dying away of the fruits of summer and points towards the contemplative mood of winter, with winter comes the promise of spring’s rebirth and new opportunities for growth. The symbolism is simple but profoundly significant.

A trek north with the chance to leave the concrete jungle of urban Toronto was rewarded by arriving in the Ottawa area at the peak of autumn’s technicolour display augmented by the light of shifting stormy skies. Sometimes you need to get out of the city to see a new view – literally and metaphorically.

French artist Louise Bourgeois' sculpture of a spider titled "Maman" outside the National Gallery in Ottawa, Canada.French artist, Louise Bourgeois’ “Maman” sculpture outside the National Gallery.

French-Canadian artist Joe Fafard's sculpture "Running Horses" outside the National Gallery, Ottawa, CanadaFrench-Canadian artist Joe Fafard’s “Running Horses” sculpture outside the National Gallery.

The purpose of the trip was also to start research into a series of articles that will be featured on MIXED BAG MAG regarding “Curating Identity” so some trips to the National Gallery as well as the Museum of Civilization were on the agenda.

During this time I was also trying (unsuccessfully) to work through French cultural theorist Michel Foucault’s “The Archaeology of Knowledge” because as Foucault proposed the way that we organize, categorize and structure information explains a lot about our worldviews when we dig down into the layers.

“The Description of Statements”

After my first visit to the National Gallery I realized that somehow I missed coming across the Inuit Collection. Upon my second visit I almost missed it again. I circled back around the Contemporary Canadian Collection on the First Floor to try to find what I was looking for as I passed by numerous Groups of Sevens and Michael Snows. Finally I gave in and just asked.

“Where is the Contemporary Inuit Collection?”

The guard didn’t seem to get what I was saying about “contemporary”.

“You mean the Inuit Collection?”

“Yes, but is there a separate contemporary section like here in this section, you know, current work”

“Dunno, but the Inuit Collection is down in the dungeon”

and he pointed to sets of descending stairs.

As much as I adore Moshe Safdie’s architecture somehow in the design the Inuit Collection got relegated to what a National Gallery employee referred to as the “dungeon” in the final structure.

Unfortunately this is telling. The symbolism of the statement, most likely not deliberate or intentionally demeaning, represents a sticky problem with regards to Canadian identity. There is a thorny mess that we can get into when cultural biases that are long due to die away have yet to go through their winter of contemplation.

During the trip I met up with Zimbabwean artist and educator Chiko Chazunguza to discuss, among other things, the hot topic – identity in the visual arts. He shared with me this story. Once, in a class he was teaching back in Zimbabwe, he asked a group of black students to draw portraits. The faces these young African artists depicted were all white. Again – unfortunately telling. How do we begin to structure knowledge so that we build a world where all of us are able to see our own faces reflected back positively?

Haida-Canadian artist Bill Reid’s “Spirit of Haida Gwaii” sculpture inspired by Haida mythology inside the Museum of Civilization. Haida artist Bill Reid’s “Spirit of Haida Gwaii” sculpture inside the Museum of Civilization.

“The Museum is the Medium”

After a workshop at OCAD U on Marshall McLuhan I had a quick discussion with a visiting professor’s presentation on how a museum can be the medium. As an example he described the Museum to the Holocaust in the Jewish Museum, Berlin and its encompassing of a void space of silence with little light. The physical structure of a museum, its internal layout, its contents (or lack of contents) as well as the taxonomy of its collections becomes in itself the medium that delivers the message of that institution’s normatives.

“The criteria of epistemes can be defined through what or whom they exclude or disqualify” ~ Michel Foucault

The Museum of Civilization has a beautiful and substantial collection of Aboriginal artifacts but with a contemporary art section making only a brief appearance at the tail end the feeling I was left with was that perhaps there is still a national episteme that First Nations, Inuit and Métis cultures are buried back in the past with weak relevance to the contemporary Canadian context although their current retrospective exhibit of Métis artist Bob Boyer’s work (curated by Lee Ann Martin) is a step in a progressive direction. This engaging exhibit confirms that there are curators (and even institutions) out there that are eager to redress this issue.

Trains-N-Boats-N-Plains: The Nina, the Santa Maria and a Pinto by Metis-Canadian artist Bob Boyer. View more of Bob Boyer’s work on the Virtual Museum of Canada

Shows like AGO’s Inuit Modern (curated by Gerald McMaster) last year and this year’s Fashionality: Dress + Identity in Contemporary Canadian Art (curated by Julie Pine) at the McMichael illustrate that we have a wealth of contemporary First Nations, Inuit and Métis artists. It is exhibits like these that demonstrate that a dismantling of the old knowledge base stuck in the mire of the one-sided story of colonialism has begun.

It is the vision of curators, like those mentioned above, that will assist us in moving forward to define a new national narrative appropriate to the 21st Century and the spring of our history(s).

“There is no “history” but a multiple, overlapping and interactive series of legitimate vs. excluded histories.” ~ Michel Foucault

Trains-N-Boats-N-Plains: The Nina, the Santa Maria and a Pinto by Metis-Canadian artist Bob Boyer. American artist Roxy Paine’s “One Hundred Foot Line” sculpture outside the National Gallery with statue of Champlain, the Father of New France, in the background.

Photography by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.

FASHIONALITY: An Afternoon at the McMichael


Top: Farheen HaQ’s “Endless Tether” Bottom: Dana Claxton’s “On the Red Road”

“Not strictly about fashion, the exhibition explores the ways in which the subjectivities and identities of those living in Canada are expressed, deconstructed, and reconfigured, while raising some intriguing questions about the embodied Canadian subject.” (cited Julie Pine )

Thanks goes out to Mira Coviensky of Harbourfront for organizing this trip up to the McMichael. It was a very special way to spend the afternoon!

And thanks to Anna Stanisz of The McMichael for giving us an amazing tour of the FASHIONALITY exhibit. She expertly broke down the interwoven and often complex issues that each of the 23 artists explored using fashion to display on the outside what is being dealt with on the inside regarding nationality, gender and cultural hybridity.

Our way of dressing is our “code” for signifying who we are and what we stand for but sometimes the codes are misunderstood. They become reductive wrapping us in stereotypes influenced by historical fictions. Over time the real meaning gets lost in translation as though the truth has been purposefully misplaced so as not to interact with the humanity of the subject. This exhibit is about calling up the past and challenging our current assumptions – ultimately restoring that humanity.

Curator Julie Pine successfully gathered together a diverse group of artists that used the accessibility of fashion, tongue-in-cheek humour and texture to beautifully explore the dimensionality of this land we call home.

On until September MIXED BAG MAG highly recommends FASHIONALITY: Dress & Identity in Contemporary Canadian Art – worth the trip to Kleinberg!

Read Juile Pine’s curatorial statement.
More information on FASHIONALITY.
Visit this weekend’s programming for Planet IndigenUS.


Camille Turner as “Miss Canadiana”