/Get Inspired/Toronto Design Week 2017

TO DO Fest, Day 1: Wood that Wows, Feel-Good Design and a Metallic Toadstool

Everything we saw and loved during day one of Toronto’s action-packed week of design events

dl-0117-events-dllovestag2All throughout the Toronto Design Offsite Festival, our editors are on the hunt for spectacular products and installations. From January 16 to 22, we’re awarding 100 Designlines Loves tags to the most beautiful, most innovative, and downright coolest stuff we encounter.

Below is the first batch of designs that caught our eye. Keep track of everything we tagged in our master list.


IIDEX Woodshop: Fell Trees Reborn

A collection of prototype designs made from an underutilized material: white ash wood brought down by beetles.

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IIDEX Woodshop is an annual competition launched in 2013 to address the abundance of ash wood created by the emerald ash borer. Designers are invited to submit their ideas for furniture built from wood felled by the invasive beetle, which is set to deplete 7.8% of Toronto’s tree canopy by 2020. The winners of the fifth edition debuted their designs at last December’s IIDEX trade show, and are now staging an encore exhibition at City Hall.

Tempo, by Deagan McDonald and Kelsey Nilson – aka Origins – is a CNC-milled storage unit with a unique and flexible way to store and display books. Made of ash, a continuous ripple of angled grooves provides easy slots for books while the removable partitions offer bookend-like support for leaning volumes.

We were also taken with the simplicity of Ryo Yonekawa’s Teetle clothes hangers, an elegant solution created by steam-bending a single strip of wood. (Or, as the designer puts it, “a product that generates a minimum amount of waste for a maximum amount of cool”.) Our favourite detail: the curled hook, which creates an opening to hang belts or ties from.

Free, City Hall Rotunda, 100 Queen St W
Jan 16-20


Living Well: An Oasis of Calm

A thematic exhibition curated by TO DO presents designs dedicated to improving emotional and mental health.

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Coupled with Monday’s unseasonably balmy weather, the restorative powers of this display at Craft Ontario effectively kicked our winter blahs to the curb. Filled with greenery, rounded-edge maple woodwork and ocean blue hues, the show has the same soothing atmosphere as a beach retreat. Each piece addresses the concept of connectedness by encouraging a closer level of engagement with our environment and with relaxing daily rituals like food preparation and indoor gardening.

One coastal-themed standout, Louie George Michael’s towering maple two-seater, fuses rattan lounge chairs with a lifeguard stand. While cheeky – the exhibition text reveals the design is dedicated “to David”, presumably the one of Baywatch fame – the design is also a thoughtful meditation on the way that two people can co-exist in a space with different points of view. An ode to the power of unity, it’s perfect for parents looking to take turns supervising the kids and enjoying a sheltered snooze.

“Kompakt”, the thesis project of recent industrial design grads Victoria Milley and Felicia Semiawan, is a trim, complementary kitchen system made up of beautifully honed maple, ceramic, glass and cork. Components include herb keepers, fruits and veggie bins, plus an opening near the removable cutting board to push compost through to a container below. A sustainable set of tools for eating fresh while being mindful of waste.

Free, Craft Ontario, 1106 Queen St W
Jan 16-Mar 18. Opening reception: Sun Jan 22, 3-6pm


Imported from Detroit: A Shiny Set of Wheels

Impressive bicycle manufacturing born from the ashes of Detroit’s automotive industry.

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The preferred stock of Fix, a gorgeous new cafe, bike shop and gallery on Gladstone Avenue, are commuters and recreational rides by Detroit Bikes, but taking pride of place this week is the arty, bespoke work of Detroit Bicycle Company’s Steven Bock.

Made to order from custom and revitalized vintage parts, these bikes are almost too sweet to subject to pavement. This one here, its “Fastest”, has a custom fork drilled frame gusseted with copper tubing and a laser-cut chain ring, as well as a vintage crank set and Cinelli track stem. It’s heavy but apparently when those gears get going…. Whoosh.

Free, Fix Coffee + Bikes, 80 Gladstone Ave
Jan 18-Jan 22. Opening reception: Wed Jan 18, 7-10 pm.


TO DO Festival Party: Preaching Dreamy Design

Toronto’s weeklong design festival officially kicks off with a spirited bash – and a dazzling one-night-only installation.

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It turns out there’s no better place than a church to assemble local architects, interior designers and makers to profess their faith in the celestial power of design. Lit by red spotlights, the Gothic Revival Church of the Holy Trinity – complete with stained glass windows and hanging chandeliers – served as a dramatic setting for the evening’s feature showpiece, Ryerson Digital Fabrication Zone’s otherworldly “Pneu”.

Guests were invited to enter the inflated dome through a slit opening along one side. Inside, a convex, toadstool-like pillar rose as the structure’s dazzling centrepiece. It served as a reminder of the ways that designers can transform a modest material – in this case, Mylar – into an evocative environment. After spending the night dancing to beats and mingling with fellow design lovers in the enchanting glow of the installation, all left energized for the busy week ahead.


Also tagged today:

• An all-white display of Shelter Bay’s Union pendants, hung at Stylegarage.

• On the Table, a collection of coasters designed by local artists to bring attention to gender-based and sexual harassment in public spaces. Curated by Aisle 4.

• Paper Works, a Canadian content-themed wall hanging by Robyn Thomas made of rolled up magazine pages weaved together on a basic loom. On display at Abstract Thoughts: From Zen to Chaos.

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