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Behind the Scenes at the 2020 Designer of the Year Celebration

Designlines‘ inaugural Designer of the Year awards brought the city’s top talent under one roof for an evening of great eats and accolades

By Tory Healy
Photography by Elena Zaralieva

On January 24th, Designlines celebrated its 2020 Designer of the Year awards ceremony. More than 200 members of the city’s design community – from a variety of disciplines – filled the ground floor of the MoCA.

Forno Cultura’s MoCA outpost (one of six; we featured Andrea Mastrandrea’s Union Station location recently), provided a beautiful spread that included an oyster bar, charcuterie and specialty breads. It was accompanied, of course, with plenty of bevvies.

Our evening’s MC, pictured with Azure‘s executive editor Elizabeth Pagliacolo, was Sarah Keenleyside (left). An interior designer and TV personality, Keenleyside hosts HGTV’s Backyard Builds, as well as the shows Home to Win and Family Home Overhaul, which will preview this spring.

The evening was made possible thanks to three generous sponsors, including Ciot. Now celebrating its 70th year, Ciot is the source for modern and versatile ceramic, glass and stone surfacing.

Elte Mkt – a grand showroom catering to an urban clientele with both generous and condo-sized contemporary furnishings – also supported the event. Pictured above, with our senior account manager, Mitch Gilroy (left), is Ken Metrick, Paige Malling and Andrew Metrick.

Last, but certainly not least, is our third sponsor: Yorkville Design Centre. Led by architect Thomas Tampold (left), Yorkville Design Centre is a full-service design firm and the exclusive retailer for Downsview Kitchens.

Once the music stopped and the lights dimmed, the show began with the winner of Best Restaurant Design. The project we named best in show was designed for one of the city’s most popular brunch destinations. This winning design team converted a boarded-up rowhouse into a palace made of plywood, featuring a sky-lit mezzanine and a warm all-Baltic-birch interior. The project is Lady Marmalade and the winning team that transformed it is Omar Gandhi Architects. Pictured above is Omar Gandhi (right) with his clients and colleagues.

Before we celebrated Best Public Space, we gave the crowd a few clues on whom won: “The project is made up of 120 black shipping containers arranged Tetris-style not far from Fort York. And between these stacks of containers are green spaces that are regularly programmed with activities for families and hipsters alike.” Yes, we were talking about Stackt Market, a community-minded pop-up imagined by Matt Rubinoff and realized by LGA Architectural Partners. Lead designer Danny Bartman (right) accepted the certificate.

Next up was Best Product Design. This designer compressed the joy of lounging in a sunken living room into one fabulous, mohair-upholstered chair-sofa hybrid. To sit in this piece of furniture is not a solo experience, the lounge can accommodate at least five people at once. Sculptural, luxurious and made in Toronto, we love the Extra Rolled Back Lounge by Studio Paolo Ferrari (left).

Towards the end of the ceremony, we crowned Superkül as our 2020 Designer of the Year, and, in a tear-jerking move, the whole 25-person strong team took to the stage to accept, with a moving speech by co-principal Meg Graham. This year’s winner builds super thoughtful homes complete with fractal ceilings, warm material palettes, and intuitive layouts. It also constructs cool, meaningful additions to Toronto, including laneway houses, community masterplans and cultural institutions like student commons and music venues. Congratulations Superkül – you awe and inspire.

Thank you to our partners – MoCA, Forno Cultura and DesignTO – as well as to our sponsors – Ciot, Elte Mkt and Yorkville Design Centre – for your kind support. And thank you to all of our winners and guests for making the evening so memorable. We look forward to next year’s event and seeing you all there.