A lot has changed for DesignTO’s 11th year, but the festival – dedicated to all-things-design – is still packed with things to see, do and experience
Fear not: the 11th annual DesignTO – a.k.a. our favourite time of the year – is still a go for 2021. While the Interior Design Show has been rescheduled for May (mark your calendars!), the festival’s series of events, window installations and exhibitions will again inundate the city with all things design – albeit, in many cases, in an online format. Appropriately enough, the theme for this year is “Distanced and Digital.”
As ever, there is a lot happening. Take a look below to read up on the DesignTO events and exhibitions that we’re looking forward to the most. Opening day is January 22, but remember: with the unpredictability of the pandemic, select events and exhibitions may be subject to change, so be sure to check in with DesignTO before you hit the streets. See the full schedule here.
DesignTO always kicks off with a party, and this year is no different – well, it’s a little different. Instead of going shoulder-to-shoulder with fellow DesignTOers, this year’s festival will kick off online with music from Maylee Todd, DJ Fly Lady Di and DJ Sigourney Beaver, so feel free to dance in your best, or just your sweats. Read more about it here.
Artist and designer Yaw Tony has gotten our attention before. Can you blame us? He weaves colour, pattern and narrative into an idiosyncratic, maximalist aesthetic that tends to draw the eye. For DesignTO, he’s built on Life Liveth in Me, his collection of printed scarves, creating bold nature-inspired prints that are showing in collaboration with fashion designers Nana Bediako and Emefa Kuadey. Read more about it here.
Toronto’s current housing boom isn’t its first. The postwar period marked an earlier era of explosive growth, with apartment buildings going up at a then-unprecedented rate. Abiding an impulse to leave her home and explore the city, photographer Lisa Stuve documented the names and unique typography adorning several of these residences, re-discovering the unique graphic design and typography of Toronto’s past. Read more about it here.
Lighting designer and DL profile subject Anony has partnered with Montreal-based architecture and design firm Rainville Sangaré on a series of window installations, each one showcasing their collaborations with EQ3. Read more about it here.
If, like us, you continue to be captivated by Danish design tradition, then tune in for this roundtable talk featuring luminaries from the Canadian and Danish design communities. Subjects up for discussion include new technology, material use, training and apprenticeship, and formal schooling. Read more about it here.
Design that’s truly accessible, inviting and accommodating of different ethnicities, sexual orientations, genders, religions, ages and abilities may be the industry’s next big challenge. Tune in to hear designers, thinkers and innovators explore what that inclusive future looks like, and discuss how we can get there. Read more about here.
Serial collaborators COFO Design are opening up their new space at Stackt, exhibiting their latest alongside some of the city’s top designers and studios, including Stacklab, Dreamstate and more. And when you’re done viewing everything on hand, you can tour the LGA-designed Stackt Market, which we named public space of the year in 2020. Learn more here.
A consistent standout at DesignTO, this year, Umbra’s annual Work/Life exhibition has taken on a whole new meaning. Each of the eight pieces, from a quickly installed “satellite shelf” to a privacy screen, takes into account the inconsistent boundaries of the new work-from-home reality, providing effective solutions in what these days are often makeshift spaces. As always, a jury will award best in show, while the public can vote for their favourite, too. Read more about it here.
To put it mildly, industrialization hasn’t been kind to the environment, leaving in its wake oil spills, chemical runoffs, contaminated soil and other damaging waste. With the waterfront of nearby Buffalo, New York, as its backdrop, Volatile Ecologies imagines an alternative future where design doesn’t seek to overcome this challenge, but instead grapples with the consequences of our failure to do so. Read more about it here.