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Artist Dennis Lin Makes Waves


For some, an opportunity to design for Umbra would be the chance of a lifetime. But Dennis Lin knew that at heart he was an artist. He created a stunning piece for the company – the Cru wine rack is still a top-seller – but he just isn’t interested in mass production.

Lin’s vision and attention to detail got him noticed straight out of OCAD, first for his wall tiles featuring large-scale Braille characters, which were exhibited at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum. Then came commissions from renowned interior-design firms Yabu Pushelberg and Burdifilek, which requested his sinuous wooden sculptures for high-end, corporate clients like Lane Crawford in Beijing and W Hotel in Atlanta. His international career took off.

While making a name for himself abroad, Dennis Lin continued to develop his visual language here at home. In 2009, he opened a short-lived gallery in Parkdale and exhibited a powerful body of work. First, there was “Hurts So Good,” a wall relief embedded with more than 2,000 knives, created with his partner, Jaclyn Quaresma. Up close it looked violent, but from a distance the blades were merely an intricate blur of criss-crossing shadows. Then there was “No. 1-60”: 60 slabs cut from a felled tree were hung in a row on industrial hooks, rather like meat in a butcher’s locker.

Through his work, including his contributions to the Gladstone Hotel’s annual Come Up To My Room exhibit, Lin draws attention to the idiosyncrasies of the materials he uses – each has a story to tell, its past etched into its very fibre. Now, with a number of installations in the works for various local clients, it’s clear Lin’s gift for harnessing the power of raw materials is striking a chord in Toronto. “When I started, I was constantly manipulating the material, doing everything I could to put my signature on it,” Lin says. “But now, I feel I’m capable of saying more with less.”


Photo caption: One of Lin’s latest commissions is this giant wall piece – made of walnut veneer, copper and aluminum – for the office of HudBay, a mineral company.


Get a closer look at what you can expect to find in the 2024 New Builds Issue of Designlines Magazine

In the 2024 Spring/Summer Issue of Designlines, we focus on New Builds and “celebrate the profound impact of creating something new, not just as an architectural endeavour but as a testament to laying down roots and shaping the very essence of our city’s identity,” editor-in-chief Joseph Cicerone writes.



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