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A Design Lover’s Guide to Autumn in Toronto

Design Lover Autumn events

From Guillermo del Toro’s curio cabinet to Christian Dior’s earliest creations, here are 12 events our editors have circled in their calendars.


Installation view of Wa-Wa by UUfie, on view in the Sir Daniel Wilson Quad until November 25, 2017. A part of the exhibition “Making Models” at the Art Museum at the University of Toronto. Photo by Dominic Chan.

Making Models
Now-Nov 25

“Meet Me There” was the design cue given to nine TO architecture studios, and they came right back with models of their most innovative creations for public spaces. UUfie was awarded the top spot with Wa-Wa (“wa” is Japanese for “harmony”), an outdoor installation of over 100 convex mirrors that creates a dreamy, surrealist landscape of reflections. Experience the full-scale model at the outdoor Sir Daniel Wilson Quad, just a hop-skip from the gallery.

Free. Art Museum at the University OF Toronto, 7 Hart House Cir
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Now-Dec 3

What do you get when you mix augmented reality with fine art? Renaissance portraits reach from their gilded gold prisons and landscapes come alive at this tech-savvy exhibit, where visitors use a custom app and their mobile device to experience the gallery’s Canadian and European collections in a completely new way.

$20. AGO, 317 Dundas St W
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Eiko Ishioka
Now-Dec 20 

Known for the electrifying costumes she created for the likes of Grace Jones, Björk, Cirque du Soleil and many 2002 and 2008 Olympic Games athletes, the late Eiko Ishioka was also a prolific graphic designer. The Japan Foundation assembles 67 of her film posters in a snapshot exhibition of her work between 1971 and 2012. Included is her award-winning album artwork for Miles Davis, alongside her iconic Japanese film posters for Apocalypse Now.

Free. Japan Foundation, 2 Bloor St E
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Urban Now: City Life in Congo
Now-Dec 31

This photography exhibition investigates the cities of Congo, defined by their derelict infrastructure and fragmented buildings. The dilapidation contrasts the luxury billboards advertising gated communities and luxury satellite towns. But also featured are portraits of the regions’ pragmatic urbanites, who carve out new spaces to escape violence and build community. The combination forms a mesmerizing visual thumbprint of the present urban Congo.

Free. The Power Plant, 231 Queens Quay W
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Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters
Now-Jan 7 

Film buffs and occult aficionados can dive into the strange objects culled from the Los Angeles repository of the celebrated genius behind Pan’s Labyrinth and Hellboy. The director’s collection of the weird, which includes full-size sculptures, film-set props and artifacts, meditates on some of society’s most memorable creatures. Or, as del Toro once said, it’s a “devotional sampling of the enormous love that is required to create, maintain and love monsters in our lives.”

$25. AGO, 317 Dundas St W
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Amalia Pica
Sep 29-Dec 31

Emojis make it easier to convey emotion in writing, but these characters might also prevent us from expressing more complex thoughts or feelings. Here, artist Amalia Pica explores how communication technology reflects the timeless human desire to connect – and the ways in which we fail to do so. For instance, her sculptures of hearing aids carved out of marble, granite and soapstone create monuments out of an object meant to help people become better listeners. They beg the question, though: are we actually paying attention to those around us?

Free.The Power Plant, 231 Queens Quay W
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Christian Dior
Nov 25-Mar 18

In Christian Dior’s first 10 years, he gifted the world with “New Look” womenswear, defined by soft shoulders, padded hips and luxurious embroideries. The ROM exhibits many of the fashion house’s earliest creations – garments that defined Paris haute couture following World War II and reinvented several approaches to dressmaking. See how Dior’s use of extravagant textiles and feminine shapes jumpstarted a new era of fashion history.

$28. ROM, 100 Queen’s Pk
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Noa Raviv’s 3D printed geometric couture

Body, Object, Enclosure
Oct 13 & 14 

The Design Exchange has partnered with the Ryerson School of Interior Design for this two-day speaker series, which will bring the likes of NADAAA’s Katherine Faulkner and Forbes 30 Under 30 couturier Noa Raviv to the city. The subject at hand is digital fabrication – how it informs spaces, design processes and the future of manufacturing. Talks at both institutions will range from discussions on traditional craftsmanship to the ethics of new technologies.

Free. Design Exchange, 234 Bay St; RSID, 302 Church St
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Nuit Blanche
Sep 30-Oct 1

The 12th edition of this dusk-to-dawn art festival celebrates Canada’s 150th birthday by looking ahead. Five curators approach the theme “Many Possible Futures” with installations that explore identity and nationhood. For her part, Barbara Fischer – the interim director of the University of Toronto Art Centre – encourages artists to leverage roadways as both canvases and sites of activism, while British film curator Karen Alexander examines how a multicultural city accommodates the memories of places its residents have left behind. In other words, expect vibrant graffiti and nostalgic video projections.

Free. Citywide.
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Sep 28-Oct 8

How do we build a better future? Design Exchange, with the United Nations Development Programme and some of the globe’s top creatives, launches a 10-day expo of design, innovation and technology to answer just that. The festival’s embrace of fresh ideas is evident right from its unconventional venue: the former Unilever soap factory located near the foot of the Don River. The beautifully ruinous 13,935-square-metre-space, filled with rusted vats and metal catwalks, still smells faintly of laundry detergent.

$15. East Harbour, 21 Don Rdwy 
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Art Toronto
Oct 27-30

The 18th annual iteration of Toronto’s infamous art fair will bring heaps of talent to the city with more than 100 galleries from Canada, the U.S. and beyond – all together under one roof. Plus, this year’s feature group exhibition FOCUS casts the spotlight on Los Angeles artists, exploring the shifting creative landscape in La La Land and how its history and geography continue to inspire patterns in contemporary visual art.

$22. Metro Toronto Convention Centre, 255 Front St W
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Nov 29 & 30

Canada’s national design expo will include some new features this year, namely the Boutique Design Pavilion, devoted to all things hospitality, as well as Prototypa, the prototyping workshop that raised eyebrows at this year’s Salon del Mobile in Milan. Mainstays like IIDEX Woodshop (an exhibit of furniture made from felled ash trees) and THINK:Material (a review of the world’s cutting-edge building products) celebrate their fifth anniversary at the show.

$25. Metro Toronto Convention Centre, 255 Front St W
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Categories: Design Lover's Guide

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