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The Must-See, Do and Experience Events of DesignTO


There’s a lot going on during the DesignTO festival, but these exhibitions and installations are can’t-miss

By Designlines

DesignTO is back. For another 10 days, pockets of the city will be transformed into visual, tactile and experiential playgrounds, giving the city’s design-inclined plenty of things to see – in fact, there might be too much for any one person to see it all. But don’t fret: we’ve gone through the 135 events, exhibitions, and installations and picked out what can’t be missed. We’re not stopping here, though – be sure to follow us on Instagram to see what receives our coveted DL Loves tags (shown above) throughout the festival. Until then, read on for our preview.

Come Up To My Room

Never failing to impress, CUTMR sees Queen West’s Gladstone Hotel transformed into a series of immersive, room-by-room, site-specific installations by artists, designers and architects. This year, we’re especially eager to explore Gladstone resident artist Bruno Billio’s TRON 209 Explodes, a follow-up to last year’s TRON 209 that turns the room into what’s essentially a three-dimensional photo negative with a dissonant splash of colour. Jan 16 to 19 at Gladstone Hotel.

Aluminum Group

Organized by MSDS Studio and Toronto designer Jamie Wolfond, the Aluminum Group exhibition will feature its namesake material machined into everything from practical, everyday objects to abstract sculpture. An all-star cast of designers will be participating, including Anony Studio, Castor Design, Thom Fougere, Lukas Peet and more. Jan 16 to 19 at ESP | Erin Stump Projects.

Danish Desire

Iconic design firms like Erik Jorgensen, Fritz Hansen, Muuto and others continue to innovate while maintaining the distinct, Danish style they helped develop, and during DesignTO, Torp and Hollace Cluny, two top retailers of Scandinavian design, are hosting an exhibition to celebrate that ongoing legacy. PP Mobler’s Karina Svensgaard is a featured lecturer, while a Georg Jensen silversmith will craft an iconic Swan pitcher on site. Jan 17 to 24 at Torp.


Mind-bending displays of conceptual design Work/Life isn’t. Instead, this exhibition, presented by Umbra, will focus on the practical reality of smaller spaces, disrupted schedules and rebalancing of the personal and professional. The best products, one chosen by a jury and another by fans, will win awards and cash prizes, while a handful are likely to end up in production, as well. Featuring Castor Design, Annie Tung Creative, and more. Jan 17 to 26 at the Umbra Concept Store.

Mjölk 10 Year Anniversary

Over the past decade, Mjölk owners John and Juli Baker have taken their shop from local cult status to international design darling. But they’ve also brought the global design world to Toronto through their collaborations with designers like Sweden’s Claesson Koivisto Rune and Norway’s Anderssen & Voll – product-design luminaries who have created gorgeous housewares, from tea sets to plant-watering pots, for the shop’s exclusive product line. To mark its 10th anniversary, Mjölk is launching a new series with pieces by Anderssen & Voll, Japanese designer Oji Masanori and Winnipeg’s Thom Fougere. Opening reception is on Friday, January 17 at Mjölk; exhibition runs to January 26.



Vancouver’s loss is Toronto’s gain. When furniture-maker Kate Duncan moved here from the West Coast, she brought Address – her inclusivity-focused annual showcase of designers working with honest-to-goodness craft, from wood-working and metal-forging to ceramics. For its seventh run, and first in Toronto, the DesignTO exhibition will include Creative Matters, Stefanie Dueck, Three Sisters by Emma and many more independent talents displaying furniture, artwork, textiles, ceramics, and slow fashion. Jan 14 to 19 at Lightform.


If you missed out on tickets to the Plated dinner, you can still enjoy the visual feast of the unique tableware displayed at the one-night-only event during this exhibition at The Tempered Room patisserie. A wonderful roster of talents, including Dear Human, FELT Studio, April Martin and Jamie Wolfond, contributed ceramics, glassware, sculptures and more. Jan 19 to Jan 26 at the Tempered Room.

IDS Toronto

Where do we even begin? IDS is the biggest event of DesignTO, with dozens of exhibitors and talks to check out. Perhaps the best place to start is with AZURE Talks: Made in Toronto, which features Teknion’s Steve Verbeek, Hollis + Morris’s Mischa Couvrette, Anony’s Christian Lo, interior designer Paolo Ferrari and Castor’s Brian Richer discussing the possibilities and challenges of actually producing collections in this city. The Azure Trade Talks on Friday also feature Burkina Faso-born architect Francis Kéré and Guest of Honour Yves Béhar. Among the show floor highlights: Partisans’ kitchen for Monogram, Jonathan Adler’s installation for Caesarstone, the Faina showcase of Ukrainian design and RESET Home, a sensorial installation that “engages our abilities to smell, touch, hear, taste, and see” by VFA Architecture + Design in collaboration with Hummingbird Hill Homes + Construction and Victoria Taylor Landscape Architect. Jan 16 to 19 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

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