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.

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.