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.
FINAL COUNTDOWN! For just $10 you can help support this amazing independent design festival!
Designers are the magic makers, the interfacers.
Designers allow the stuff of dreams to come to life.
Designers have the capability to make our day with well played functionality.
And that is why design matters! Because we live in a world where we engage with design round the clock.
Supporting a community that nurtures designers so they can give birth to great design just makes sense.
This festival is near and dear to my heart because as a designer it brings together some of the best independent talent we have in Toronto and each year I walk away inspired. Plus this warm bunch of creative geniuses do a fine job of thawing out Toronto in the coldest month of the year.