Last night at Pecha KuchaKevin Yuen Kit Lo of LOKI (Jay Wall’s partner in crime for the show opening tonight in the Junction) asked me how I knew Jay. I couldn’t recall the exact moment of our meeting but I also don’t remember a time when his presence wasn’t somehow on the periphery of my own investigation on how best to support and promote ‘Toronto the Good\ through an alchemic mix of community building, design thinking and iconic visuals.
I was probably first aware of his presence through his work. Jay’s baby is STUDIO JAYWALL a “Toronto-based team specializing in creative direction and graphic/interactive design for social, culture, environmental and city-building initiatives.”
I liked that this guy was using his creative powers for good and that he understood how beautifully designed visuals could motivate people to change – even encourage an activist spirit!
“Let the Dead Man Rise” t-shirt design by Jay with custom handlettering for Toronto folk musician Joe Zambon.
Jay Wall and Sean Martindale at Pecha Kucha, telling the story of the cARTographyTO ad takeover project.
“The type ‘TBCo.’ stands for the Toronto Brick Company which was historically based at the Brick Works. I live near the Don Valley, and I love visiting the Brick Works. It’s also interesting to encounter bricks like this when walking the shore of Lake Ontario, across town from the Brick Works. It’s not uncommon though to find these. Many of the old bricks that the city was built with have been turned to rubble and used as fill to expand the edge of the city out into the lake.
Besides the charm of holding a worn building block of Toronto with old type on it, the letters ‘TBCo.’ take on new meaning for me now. I read them as “To Be Continued” – a reminder that the story of our city is constantly being written, and that we have an important part to play in that. What is the future city that we want? How will graphic design – and decisions as seemingly small as choosing a typeface – help us to get there?”
These are the types of questions that informed STUDIO JAYWALL and LOKI ‘s upcoming show at Cut The Cheese, one of the newest restaurants in the Junction. Reading/Writing the Junctionopens tonight as part of Toronto Design Offsite but will continue on display until February 28th.
“In a rapidly changing neighbourhood, how does the past meet the future? Through the documentation, re-imagining, and re-composition of vernacular storefront signage, lettering and typography, we present a visual commentary on the changing face of the Junction. We look at how the old and new co-exist – what stays and what gets left behind – in an attempt to spark a conversation about hopes for the Junction’s future.”
Another artifact Jay brought along was the Jane Jacobs pin he always showcases somewhere on his person. Toronto loves their Jane! When I moved to Toronto my (re)introduction to the city I thought I knew from growing up close by was the unknown stories uncovered through Jane’s Walks around the city.
“I always wear Jane on my jacket or bandana. I like having her company as I’m riding, walking, or working in the city. She’s a powerful icon of citizen-led city-building (especially for Torontonians), and the triad of intelligence, love, and resistance.”
The story behind the “W” and why Jay decided to bring it speaks to the ethos of Jay’s way of working.
“This is an artifact from my York/Sheridan Design undergrad class grad show exhibition “YSDN 2010.” The “W” pointed to a table of work created by students whose last names started with W (that’s me). I didn’t actually design this, it’s a typeface that was custom designed by my classmate Jonathon Yule for the exhibition. It’s a simple reminder of my roots and how I’m part of the collective – like how the W is just one of 26 letters in the alphabet, but no other letter can do the job of the W. In fact, one of the slogans of our show was “The whole is the sum of its parts.” This idea relates to my studio’s work, in that we do projects that contribute to the collective good of society.”
Another example of Jay’s love of typographic expression is this shirt produced by STUDIO JAYWALLfor the band Currents.
“We’ve all heard that money doesn’t grow on trees. That was true only until we made this illustration for Ottawa-based post-punk band Currents. The hand-lettered band name fuses into the roots of a money-bearing tree, whose character suits the aggressiveness of the music. We printed the 2-colour illustration onto t-shirts and posters, which have been a hit with fans across North America.”
As designers we are constantly scanning our surroundings to take in and then synthesize what we see. The hundreds, possibly thousands of hours, I have spent walking through Toronto has made me understand it better and helped me find its patterns as well as its anomalies. Jay’s way of scanning the city is on his bike. A passionate advocate for a bike-friendly Toronto, Jay is a member of Cycle Toronto and collaborated with the Urban Repair Squad on “street art pieces drawing attention to cycling issues in the city.”
I like that Jay’s way of living is his way of working. They are one in the same. I would say that the most important (although unintentional) artifact of Toronto design that Jay brought along was his bike. Cycling “gives me a ground-level perspective on the city that informs my work. With my studio working a lot on sustainable city-building projects, where environmental and social issues intersect, we get to advocate for bike infrastructure in our own visual way.”
No doubt those future hours that Jay spends engaging with the city while on wheels will bring us more wonderful visuals that may someday become someone else’s artifacts for good design in Toronto!
Another year of Pecha Kucha and TO DO with Vivien Leung.
My first memory of Vivien Leung was of this beautifully dressed woman pitching Pecha Kucha at a Design with Dialogue meetup co-hosted with TO DO. After that we kept randomly intersecting each other at street corners as we were running off to some event because we are both the kind of people who believe that community building is vital and participating online is not the same as showing up in person.
You can sense that Vivien is the type of individual to insert herself gracefully into any context, quickly identify a need and then without missing a beat start to nurture growth. She has played an important part in the emergence of a strong design community in Toronto.
Left to right: Vivien Leung, Libs Elliott, and Jay Wall.
Vivien’s work with Pecha Kucha has made the Toronto chapter the go-to event for the creative class who want to network while being inspired. Tickets always go quickly and today’s TO DO Pecha Kucha is a SOLD OUT event.
Libs Elliott, pictured above beside Vivien, is a past Pecha Kucha presenter and you can get an idea of how Pecha Kucha’s 20 (images) x 20 (seconds each) presentation style works by listening to her talk about the inspiration and process behind her unique quilts. You can also view more Toronto PK presentations on the website.
For the shoot, I asked each person to bring with them something that they felt represented Toronto design. Vivien choose to showcase a 3D printed earrings and necklace set by Hot Pop FactoryToronto’s “3D printing creatives” who specialize in “creative applications of digital fabrication.”
“Vivien stands out as one of our most valuable community-builders in Toronto. She tirelessly coordinates events and connects people across disciplines. The result is a mesh of relationships that activate Toronto’s design community.” ~ Jay Wall
Find out more about Vivien on www.vivienleung.co and follow her on Twitter.
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.
“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 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.
A fresh colour mix from Moroso at The Interior Design Show Toronto.
Toronto design events are notorious for a certain palette – black, beige, bone and a about 50 plus shades of (not-so-sexy) gray. And truth be told I find something oddly soothing about the natural tones, it suits the Canadian disposition of neutrality and our desire to diplomatically blend into the background.
But when you turn the corner and are washed over with waves of colour you realize just how thirsty you are for juicy! And leave it to an Italian to quench that thirst by rocking hues of blood orange and citron.
For the Interior Design Show lounge area Patrizia Moroso, IDS ’14’s International Guest of Honour, explained to me that she didn’t want it to feel like a showroom but a comfortable artist studio where life is informal, creative and intimate as you get to see what is close to the artist’s heart.
Patrizia was able to translate this perfectly because she embodies all of this in the way that she fluidly moves through her world. She acknowledges that for her, there isn’t a clear separation between work and her personal life. Her way of living seems to be an improvisational dance, her steps guided by a strong sense of intuition and a desire to truly love what enters into her mix. For the lounge area she pairs her most adored pieces from the Moroso Collection with tiny arrangements of succulents and cacti just because she finds them beautiful. These small clusters of sweet but unassuming plants are balanced in the extreme by grand abstract canvases. These stunning paintings are eproductions of her husband’s pulsating art. The love-of-her-life has come along for the ride even if only in spirit.
And she also brings along the spirit of her mother and father. A second generation family owned and operated business, Patrizia’s parents started the furniture company after their town in Italy was devastated by The Second World War. While many left for greener pastures, like Canada, her parents stayed. From almost nothing they pieced back together their broken community by working hard and playing passionately in order to restore the vibrancy of the Dolce Vita.
With siblings and cousins brought into the business where those who worked together also played together, Patrizia grew up with an ethos of blurred lines and soften boundaries that allowed her free spirit the encouragement to explore life fully.
After attending art school and believing she was moving in the direction of an art critic or gallery owner her path shifted when her family called her back to work her magic on Moroso. What she did was infuse the furniture company with an artist’s touch and the invigoration of an avant-garde approach to design. Immediately she gravitated towards collaborations with artists (her first collaboration being with one of her closest friend’s from her art school days) and it has become a regular endeavour for Moroso to curate exciting exhibits (like M’afrique in 2009) around a multi-discplinary meeting of minds – artists, furniture designers and architects. The process that results from these collaborations has not only lead to Moroso being a leader in their industry but to Patrizia growing her intimate circle and extended ‘family’. In her Q & A with Azure Magazine’s Executive Editor Nelda Rodger as she took us through the company timeline she narrated a story of Moroso that sounded more like the history of a family tree. She spoke fondly of each Moroso collaborator and when speaking about Moroso‘s work with designer Patricia Urquiola you could tell she was not only speaking of a strong professional relationship but of a person who has become for her a close creative sister.
Perhaps that is why, when photographing Moroso‘s furniture, they feel more like people who were invited to the table, with their own personalities and something to say and contribute. The joy of the marriage between Moroso and the creative geniuses they have worked (played) with busts through the seams!
As I watched the crowds mingle in and around the lounge on the coldest of winter days it was clear that the informal invitation to hang out in Patrizia’s space for awhile was accepted.
Thanks to IDS and Azure Magazine for another round of great Trade Talks!
All above images by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.
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.
“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.”
“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.
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…
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.
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.
“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…
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…
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…
“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...
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
Tomorrow’s forecast in Toronto? Perfect Weather with possibility of plenty of art!
MIXED BAG MAG recommends heading North of the city this weekend for 2 important shows that speak to our expanding urban centres / suburbs and promote dialogue around how to be more intentional around our future growth.
Due to popular demand Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky’s The Landscape that We Change is held over until Thanksgiving Monday at The McMichael in picturesque Kleinburg, Ontario.
“Burtynsky does not seek to position his images into the realm of political polemic. The artist has stated that they “are what they are.” His photographs engage the observer through what the artist refers to as a “duality” in the viewing process. In Burtynsky’s aesthetic interpretation, his images render the subject most often in rich colour, detail, and textural qualities. Simultaneously, the observer is made aware of the devastation and altered state of nature that is portrayed. The tension generated by mediating the dual nature of the individual’s response to the image is intended to provoke a thoughtful dialogue about the environment and societal attitudes.” Read more…
For more information on planning your visit to The McMichael click here.
IAIN BAXTER&’s “Markhamaze” at the Land|Slide Possible Futures exhibit.
Over in Markham is the much talked about Land|Slide Possible Futures exhibit that includes a large group of national and international artists covering the 25 acre grounds of the Markham Museum. Taking art of out the gallery space and plunking it into the perfect autumn setting of changing leaves, grass and blue skies was a pretty brilliant idea! Tomorrow will be my 4th visit. Green space + public art = My Idea of a Day Well Spent!
“Land|Slide Possible Futures is a groundbreaking large-scale public art exhibition which responds to a world in transition where the past, present and future collide. The landscape of Markham will be transformed by the work of over 30 national and international artists to explore themes of multiculturalism, sustainability, and community.” Read more…
FYI – FREE SHUTTLE SERVICE on Saturday from MOCCA & CSI Bathurst. Below info from Land|Slide’s Facebook page.
This will take you up just in time for a talk by urban planners/artists Department of Unusual Certainties at 2:30PM, and a planning tour led by Land|Slide planning experts Lisa Hosale, Sara Udow and Katherine Perrott.
All above images by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.
Art work from top to bottom:
Inside the wigwam of Julie Nagam’s “singing our bones home” install
Close up at video for Camille Turner’s AfroFuturist performance “Time Warp”
Architect Frank Haverman’s install “Untitled” (I call it “Brilliant”)
IAIN BAXTER&’s “Markhamaze” at the Land|Slide Possible Futures exhibit.