/Get Inspired/DesignTO

A Neighbourhood Guide to DesignTO Window Installations

The displays have transformed Toronto into a walkable gallery

By Designlines
Photography by Matt Hertendy (cover)

Shop, restaurant and studio windows across Toronto have been adorned with something special this month. With the DesignTO Festival well underway, many local and travelling makers are displaying their work through captivating window installations open to the public. On now through January 29, there’s plenty to feed your design cravings. Not sure where to start? Here’s our comprehensive guide on what to see and where to see it across the city.

DesignTO Window Installations
STACKABL x Wisse Trooster pendants. Photo by Patrick Biller.

Summerhill

Salt Frames, Clementine’s
1054 Yonge Street

Sylvia Lee, Executive and Creative Director of The Goodman Studio, displays a series of interior screens and two tables inspired by aerial images of salt fields. Lee captures the beauty of these fields where nature and humans collide to create brightly coloured and changing fields that are reminiscent of stained glass.

STACKABL, The Lobby by Heaps Estrin
1120 Yonge Street

On view at The Lobby is STACKABL, a joint project between Toronto studio STACKLAB and its New York partner, Maison Gerard. The STACKABL system (an online configurator) allows designers to turn felted Merino wool off-cuts, post-consumer aluminum and 60% recycled PET into custom objects. In this display are six beautiful, tactile pendants made through this process that expemplifies the importance and viability of a circular economy.

Woven Steel, GV&Co
1206 Yonge Street

Sharl G. Smith of Sun Drops Studio uses bead stitching to create beautiful large-scale sculptures that are truly unique. Working, one bead at a time Smith works with hollow stainless-steel spheres as beads and industrial steel cable as thread giving new life to an ancient craft.

Lumas Gallery DesignTO
F_RMlab’s artwork courtesy of Lumas Canada.

Yorkville

{{qvr}}, Lumas Gallery
159 Yorkville Avenue

This window installation is a beautiful interactive display by F_RMlab, a design and research collective “engaged in advanced computational design tools in support of new paradigms of public space where dynamic interaction, social responsiveness, regenerative materials and systemic resilience are integral goals in building.” The installation is animated as people pass by.

DesignTO Window Installations
Miniature Suite by Roxanne Brathwaite.

Riverside

Dementia Miniature Suite, Agustus Jones
33 Davies Avenue

In this intriguing window display at furniture showroom Augustus Jones, a miniature world emerges that addresses living with dementia. Roxanne Brathwaite (Suite City Woman) has crafted a miniature version of the full-scale kitchen she wishes she could give her mother who is now living in a retirement home. Brathwaite replicated items salvaged from, or inspired by, her mother’s original home.

b. side projects
Ceramic Life by b. side projects.

Moss Park

Ceramic Life, Plant Society
185 Queen Street East

In this dining room installation called “Ceramic life”, where everything is made of clay, the comfort of home is expressed with warm, tactile materials and a striking monochromatic palette. Potted plants in everyday objects add to this domestic bliss.

Marked Figures, Sherwin-Williams Showroom
423 Queen Street East

‘Marked Figures’ explores the role of “the line” in the identity of “a South Asian female figure in space.”  The form itself is questioned and explored. Visually mesmerizing, this work is watercolour and ink on paper by artist Vineetha Sivathasan.

Window Installation designto
One of three artworks by Ruth Mora and Michèle Guevara. ” Impermanence” for DesignTO.

Leslieville

Impermanence, Clay Space Studio
1324 Gerrard Street East

Created individually and collectively, these works consider the concept of change. The artists Ruth Mora and Michèle Guevara use traditional techniques such as crochet work to develop these tactile works and process pieces.

Window Installation Toronto
“Woven Vase” by Nadira Narine.

Upper Beaches 

They’re *Not* Just Baskets, SKAUT Design
874 Kingston Road

This display showcases artist Nadira Narine’s ongoing Woven Series, inspired by traditional woven baskets in her home country of Panama. By exploring her childhood roots, Narine crafts sculptural objects with a nod to history along with a sense of discovery.

Designlines DesignTO
Outdoor projection of final film from Nuit Blanche 2022.

Downtown

But I Still Hope You See This, Merchant of York
235 Queens Quay West

Textile book artist Olivia Mae Sinclair creates beautifully messy works from the heart. This work is “a love letter full of revenge and laced with irony, as it is for everyone and no one at the same time.”

Democracy in Motion, Aquavato
58 Front Street, Unit 110 (west side of Sherbourne, north of Front)

This original multi-media installation takes cold, hard facts and translates them into a mesmerizing visual experience. By looking at “an existing data set about the state of democracy in countries worldwide” the artists have extrapolated a unique view on the world today. The work includes a dance film, musical score, data projection, and a display of 3D crystalline-shaped models.

Pandemic time, Stantec Architecture
100-401 Wellington Street West

This installation by artist Michèle Guevara visually represents how the days and years of the pandemic were felt. While working remotely, Guevara was motivated to crochet daily. Each day she used a different colour yarn documenting time as it passed, some days longer than others.

Window Installations West End Toronto
“Bar Stool” by Salva Modarres.

Dundas West

Café Curtains, Hamers Coffee
870 Dundas Street West

Textile artist Jennifer Coghill wants to inspire conversations about alternative ways to look at what we might otherwise throw away. This window installation reimagines the after-use of these unusual materials through functional and decorative panels.

Duo, Issues Magazine Shop
1489 Dundas Street West

Stone and metal are merged in this display by Elizabeth Lenny. This series of objects compares the differences and similarities of the materials. Each piece is made to be arranged and rearranged in different configurations, proposing an ongoing duet between the objects.

What Was, Now Is, Capri Shoes
820 Dundas Street West

From Hilary Arellano and Holly Chang, this window installation features a collection of experiments in biomaterial study, inviting viewers to reimagine food waste into everyday objects. See how the post-production products take shape in a new light and their elements are bent into new form.

Eating Cherries, Braiding Hair, Sovereign State
827 Dundas Street West

This window installation explores the theme of ‘alternative’ selves if life had gone a different way. Elena Mahno’s ceramic vessels resemble women wearing pinafores. These silhouettes are rooted in the artist’s memories of school uniforms she never got to wear due to economic instability and immigration from Moldova decades earlier.

The Bar Stool, Northern Belle
913 Dundas Street West

Illustrated on a straw paper scroll, Salva Modarres’ work tells the story of a bar stool. The engaging window art is designed to engage pedestrians as they walk along Dundas Street.

Elizabeth Lenny X Studio Bimbi, VSP Consignment
1410 Dundas Street West

Inspired by the work of land artist Michael Heizer, this collaboration between Elizabeth Lenny and Studio Bimbi visions the designers’ relationship with objects and natural materials. Wood encapsulates a stone to suggest function, while the stone supports wood and the bodies that sit on it.

Nọrọ: Sit & Stay, Saving Grace
907 Dundas Street West

Observe the Noro stool, designed by Chuma Asuzu to fit that nomadic lifestyle of a renter in Toronto while still retaining some personality. The display is one of 10 projects in the Trinity Bellwoods BIA.

excerpts from the little table project, bookhou
798 Dundas Street West

From John Booth, this collection of small tables spotlights steam bending as a means of creating two-dimensional surfaces using linear elements. The designs were made without drawings or sketches and are determined in the moment as each piece of wood is steamed.

Exhaust, Dirty Laundry
808 Dundas Street West

This multi-media, experimental art installation seeks to challenge the concept that value is measured by productivity. In this work, artist Marcelline Siu conceptualizes emotional burnout while representing resource depletion by using solely discarded and reclaimed materials.

Unseen Interiors, Milky’s
760 Dundas Street West

Ceramic vessels by artist and educator Angela Cho are simple materials for articulating the fertile voids between objects. The body-like sculptures feature layers of translucent paper cut-outs, lights and shadows.

Series 3 by Warren Steven Scott, Comrags
812 Dundas Street West

For his third artwork series, Warren Steven Scott chose leftover acrylic sheet materials from his earring production to explore ideas surrounding the duality of tradition and modernity. For DesignTO, he has added a few larger-scale works to the family, which reveal new spatial intricacies.

Language Structure, Worth Gallery
830 Dundas Street West

Artist Paul Aloisi examines letterforms as building blocks of communication in this series of fence-like sculptural works. Uniquely, the installation was developed using algorithm-aided design techniques.

Designlines Window Installations
Spit rock as door handle. Designed by Corey Moranis.

Queen West

Colliding Ideas, Cutler and Gross
758 Queen Street West

Merging two disciplines, this project offers a visual snapshot of the collaborative process between hot glass sculptor Victoria Guy and modern block printer/textile artist Hyunjung Lee. Intricate details and colours make this installation best for daytime viewing.

Coming Home, Forno Cultura
1056 Queen Street West

On display, the new furniture and home goods collection from Contra Studio by Christine Rohrbacher invites you to take a moment and enjoy the details of the hand-sewn leather and wood joinery of each piece. Stop by during shop hours to touch and interact with the collection.

FINOM x minä perhonen lamp collection, Gaspard
886 Queen Street West

These aren’t SAD lamps, they’re happy lamps. For the 2023 DesignTO Festival, Gaspard’s window becomes a source for both light and dreaming, showing a collection of lighting designed by Finnish interior architect Esa Vesmanen and Akira Minagawa, a Japanese textile and clothing designer.

FLOWERS, gh3*
55 Ossington Avenue

Respectfully sourced, large in scale and constructed using ancient felt-making techniques, Flowers is comprised of suspended vibrant wool. This concept by Tracy Olan and Jess Koehn sets out to explore the dynamic relationships formed in nature, particularly among flowers, and what one can offer another.

Irresistible Indigo, gravitypope
1010 Queen Street West

Pass by this window installation at Queen and Ossington to discover block printer and experimental artist Hyunjung Lee’s textile display—the creative philosophies of which come from Hyunjung’s cultural identity.

Love Bomb, Gladstone House
1214 Queen Street West

Advertised as an “explosion of art and love,” love bomb is showing along the Gladstone House’s Robinson Room windows. The quirky black and white illustrations from catchoo (aka Carlos Charris) are a call to action for courageously standing against hate, ignorance and injustice.

REIGN, The Drake Hotel
1150 Queen Street West

Exploring the reign of nature, this captivating window installation in collaboration with artist Victoria Fard and SHAKERSZSTORIES represents the duality of nature’s strength and fragility. Daytime viewing is recommended.

Living With Rocks, FAWN
967 Queen Street West

The title of Corey Moranis’ DesignTO project is quite literally what it seems. Inspired by the weathered industrial materials found along the shores of the Leslie Spit, the artist’s own collection of home objects makes up the display. Through small modifications or pairing them with a counterpart that completes their imagined function, the objects are cast off, eroded by nature, given new meaning, and treasured once again.

Designlines Windows Installations DesignTO
“Alongside” still by Lukus Toane.

Little Italy

Alongside, Anti Vice Juicery
853 College Street

Lukus Toane seeks to more broadly consider the objects we surround ourselves with through this new installation. The use of raw canvas and different-sized wooden frames provides a simplified window installation which is intended to be aesthetically neutral.

Cyrc DesignTO
Cyrc’s Pisa Vase.

Roncesvalles

Happy Little Trees, 313 Design Market
313 Roncesvalles Avenue

Rather than make a didactic installation about sustainability, Cyrc wants to create a simple moment of wonder and joy in the storefront window at 313 Design Market. The Montreal-based design studio has curated the 3D-printed display out of its signature medium—plant-based recycled plastic.

imbibe like roots, Michelle Ross Studio
197 Sorauren Avenue

In an intricate textile form, leaves, blossoms, and seeds of local plant life are embedded in this elegant window installation by Kathleen Morris. The title draws attention to the essential interdependence between humans and the more-than-human world.

Siliceous Earth, Scout
405 Roncesvalles Avenue

Glass artist Sydni Weatherson’s collection of vessels for DesignTO is inspired by aerial photographs of salt flats, the granular quality of watercolour pigments, and the natural fluidity of molten glass.


You may also like