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TO DO Fest, Day 2: Pint-Sized Perfection, Windows of Wonder and Brilliant Bio-Tech

Everything we saw and loved during day two 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 second batch of designs that caught our eye. Keep track of everything we tagged in our master list.


Compact Living: Big Ideas for Small Spaces

An exhibition of fresh prototypes created by Canadian designers to make the most of tight living quarters.

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No one gets efficient home accessories better than Umbra, which is known for its playful bath and kitchen staples. In partnership with TO DO, the powerhouse manufacturer showcases 11 prototypes envisioned to make the most out of tight living quarters.

Fittingly capsule-shaped, we think Chifen Cheng’s Two Halves shelf is well-suited for the foyer of a small apartment. Its bright blue, micro-thin metal profile is both fun and elegant with a slot behind the mirror for storing mail and magazines, while a tea cup-shaped divot nearby for bits and bobs. Perfect for a final self inspection before grabbing your TTC tokens and heading out the door.

Equally compact and tidy is Linus King’s Unicorn, a baton-skinny lamp with a hook. Inspired by the fluorescent umbrellas seen in Blade Runner, Unicorn is lightweight and suitable for every room in the house. For super-easy use, the handle is fully rotatable, a magnetic bottom secures it to steel surfaces and the light is powered by a USB chargeable battery.

Free, Umbra Concept Store, 165 John St
Jan 16-22

Dundas West: Distinctive Window Displays

West end storefronts jazzed up with fab furniture, textiles and masks.


A pair of beautiful Bound counter stools by recent Sheridan Furniture Design program graduate Emily Falconer sit in the window of Lebel and Crowe, a hair salon at Dundas and Sheridan. As the designer says, “The stools are a modern junction of the forms and ideals of Danish modernists, and the exploitation of the newest technologies,” and indeed you will find both handcrafted simplicity as well as a timeless aesthetic suited to contemporary environments. We love the juxtaposition of the sweeping curves and the crispness of woven seats.

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Further west, master woodworker Lubo Brezina once again adds some magic to the front of his studio space by filling his window with Making Faces, new work exploring “the moment of cultural overlap through the creation of hand-carved and painted masks.” Among the 10 faces you will find masks inspired by forest animal icons as well as vintage NHL goalie masks inspired by traditional Japanese theatre.

And Alma (Portuguese for “soul”) at Saudade is a celebration of the artisanship of Portugal. In the window hang Arraiolos, a style of rug that has been handmade by needlepoint since the Middle Ages in the south of Portugal. Designed by interior designer, Christine Vieira, the rugs are inspired by both Canada and Portugal, their graphic good looks making an age-old tradition a perfect fit in modern homes.

Free, Dundas West between Ossington and Lansdowne

Jan 16-22


Evolution: Super-natural Crochet

A biomimicry-themed exhibition demos how tech can be used to emulate – and expand upon – natural phenomena.

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Our favourite of the futuristic prototypes on display at Design Exchange’s new exhibition is Mahtab Oskuee’s “Gaze Modulator,” a textile installation that transforms as visitors approach it. Shape Memory Alloy (or muscle wire) thread throughout the crocheted canvas contract in response to motion, causing the membrane’s densely scrunched modules to writhe and wriggle in an organic way that masks their mechanical underpinnings. It’s easy to imagine the clever piece enlarged to act as an otherworldly landscape on some future sci-fi film set.

Free, Design Exchange, 234 Bay St
Jan 17-Apr 28.

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