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.

MEANWHILE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD: Design in Dubai

Flag with advertising for Design Days Dubai in front of the skyscraper The Burj Khalifa
Image from Design Days Dubai
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Design Days Dubai and the emergence of a design community in the UAE.

Shows like IDS (Interior Design Show) here in Toronto have helped demystify design for a general audience. For the price of an entry ticket you can see fresh work by new independent Canadian designers in Studio North and Prototype or take advantage of international guests speaking on design and architecture. Along with Toronto Design Offsite, Design Week’s independent festival that runs concurrently, it’s a great way to get the creative juices flowing. But if you ever happen to be in Dubai in March there is a new show that is growing a community around design in the Emirates. (More MIXED BAG MAG posts on design in Toronto with TODO Festival & Highlights of Design Week 2013)

The first fair in the Middle East that focuses on furniture design and design objects Design Days Dubai aims “to strengthen greater appreciation and understanding for design as a form of applied arts.”

What I love is that the aesthetic collected is BOLD! The work you see at Design Days Dubai shows no fear when it comes to exploring form and materials. But somehow it still manages to be accessible maybe because it is so over-the-top fantastical that it is the recognizable stuff of our dreams – playful, imaginative, and in many cases, like nothing we have ever seen before in the flesh within our reach.

Colourful chair in a baroque style with Mondrian style painting in back and woman sitting beside in high heels The Proust Geometrica Chair on display the PF Emirates Interiors. Image from Design Days Dubai.

People walking through indoor exhibitions, painting with spattered painted on white canvas on left side. Visitors at Design Days Dubai. Photo by Siddharth Siva. Image from Design Days Dubai.

Sculpture of white face suspended ceiling and arms coming out from wall holding utensils, smiling ready to eat. Woman in background signing a book. Image from Design Days Dubai.


Image from Design Days Dubai.

A million times (Time Dubai) by Humans since 1982 from Humans since 1982 on Vimeo.

Man in traditional arabic style dress looking at large black and white abstract painting
Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Bin Khalifa Al Nahyan tours a special preview day at the Inaugural Design Days Dubai at Franziska Kessler
. Image from Design Days Dubai.

Exhibit space with assorted tables, chairs and contemporary design objects Southern Guild Gallery, South Africa. Image from Design Days Dubai.

Gradient Mashrabiya by mischer’traxler for Carwan Gallery, Beirut. Image from Design Days Dubai.

Man hanging a basket like structure woven from camel leather on wood frame. People looking on. Kwangho Lee at his workshop, Camel Leather Weaving at Design Days Dubai. Image from Design Days Dubai.

Chairs shaped liked bean bag chairs makde from coiled rope.Meltdown Chairs by Tom Price, UK. Photo by Klara Urbanova. Image from Design Days Dubai.

The Sharjah Art Foundation. Image from Universes in Universe.

The Sharjah Biennial – art work that pushes the envelope with some serious play and dark humour.

And in another desert location down the road, the Sharjah Biennial gathers together  incredible established and emerging artists who produce projects that skip over, around and through the artistic expressions of new media, street art and installation like kids at a game of hopscotch. Case in point – this stunning-crazy-brilliant piece by French-Tunisian “calligraffiti” artist El Seed.

Art work with collage of Arabic script and human figures with saying Please be Aware this Image Contains NudityBeware of this Artist by Ramin Haerizadeh. Image from www.sharjahfoundation.org.

For obvious reasons, the work that pools around this intimate Biennial is often about analysis of the politics of body, space, and nation but because the execution is so beautifully rendered the intense work powerfully draws you in through your eyes to open your heart and mind to important issues.

The Sharjah Art Foundation. Work by Imran Qureshi. Image from Universes in Universe.

The Sharjah Art Foundation. Work by Mustapha Benfodil. Image from Universes in Universe.

Like Toronto, Dubai is rapidly expanding while exploring what this means for this city that has become an international destination and like Toronto it will be exciting to watch how Dubai grows as a destination for design.

Toronto's CN Tower rising between condo highrises with early evening clouds forming in the sky Image by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.