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TO DO Fest, Day 5: Haute Hotel Rooms, Designer Pen Pals and Experimental Seating


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


Come Up to My Room: Site-specific Hotel Installations

Historic lodgings transformed by alt art.

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As soon as you walk into Patrick Li’s Fortune Room, you are dazzled by the sheer number of fortune cookie fortunes. Laid out like blades of grass and blowing in the wind at your knee, or pinned side-by-side to the left wall (the right wall is decked in winning lotto numbers dating back to the ’80s), they envelope you with wisdom.

Élan Vital presents an equally trippy environment. This hotel room takeover transports the visitor to a new dimension by way of the real shipping container that Marian Wihak has assembled inside the suite. Open the crate’s door, step inside and enter an ethereal, almost alien world, occupied by ambient music and floating green light.

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House of Gnawr by Oasis Skateboard Factory is another standout. We love the space’s skate-or-DIY spirit, and seeing the pride on the faces of the kids who helped design the skateboards on display. One wall is the “fine art” wall, with all-white carved skate decks hung like canvases, while the other side is pure skater kid clubhouse – a great reminder of the many things design can be, and that anyone can do it.

We also loved A Perilous Journey, by Tara Krebs, which fantastical images in a storybook series of paintings. The addition of two cork boards where visitors could draw or write their own contributions between chapters adds an interactive elements. The artist says she set out to “promote the use and patience for ones own personal sense of wonder in a world where information is immediately accessible” – we wish more would do the same.


Finally, Simon Johnson’s impressive installation transplants materials found in the natural, rural surroundings of his studio in Quebec’s Eastern Townships. Hung from above are an invasive species of reeds that are permeating throughout Quebec, the table is made from local wood and “propped up” by a large rock lifted from the grounds of his riverside studio. It’s set up in a window alcove and the light coming in adds a moodiness that is quite beautiful.

$10, Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen St W
Jan 19-22. Opening party: Sat Jan 21, 7-10


Outside the Box: Cool Creations Shipped From Afar

Makers from various design capitals demonstrate the influence of where you design

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You are where you design. That’s the idea behind this joint WantedDesign and TO DO program, which collects accessories and objets d’art shipped in a bankers box from designers based in New York, L.A., Detroit, and other North American cities to reflect the prevalent design aesthetic in those cities.

We were quickly drawn to Medicine Hat’s display, both because the small city qualifies as an intriguing little guy in the big design world, but because of the exquisite collection of objects presented. A plate printed with a 3-D pattern was truly gorgeous, whether or not it was viewed through the matching retro glasses.

Vancouver’s box, curated by Kate Duncan, is like a tiny version of the furniture designer’s recurring Address Assembly exhibition (in which she brings together a variety of Vancouver design talents to create an installation of stunning vignettes, showcasing everything from her own furniture and accessories – like the walnut and brass tray here – to sculpture and fashion). Everything in here is beautiful, but we especially love the tiny mountainscape by Propellor and Gamla Objects’ black walnut Oddblocks.


The feeling over at the table displaying objects by New York designers was very midnight marauder and we wouldn’t be surprised if this surreptitious stash, including the all black lamp (by David Irwin), flask by The Principals and matchstick set (by Fort Standard  arrived in a backpack rather than a banker’s box.

Free, Gladstone Hotel Art Hut, 1181 Queen St W
Jan 16-22. Opening reception: Sat Jan 21 5-8pm


Tables, Chairs & Other Unrelated Objects – Six: Out-There Riffs on Furniture Forms

Conceptual furniture a couple of degrees removed from your average living room environment.

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OCAD U’s student exhibition, curated by recent graduate Alisa Maria Wronski, balances functional designs with sculptural statement pieces that challenge established ideas about seating.

We gravitated towards Topher Kong’s Ro chair mainly because we just wanted to touch it so freaking badly. Covered in fur (yes, fur), its plushy goodness encourages us all to get a little more lavish – even a little wacky – with our dinner table seating.

On the more conceptual front, Close by Jasmin Liu accommodates both love and war. The bench’s seats can be arranged to face each other, putting the occupants in an ultra-cozy position or, if solo time is what’s needed, the seats can be flipped back-to-back.


Around the corner is this bright red throne of a chair, lit by a well-trained pot light. The velvet upholstery and perfectly-turned, super quirky arms and legs makes for a weirdly regal piece. By Junaid Noorah.

$10, Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen St W
Jan 17-31. Opening party: Sat Jan 21, 7-10


Bright: Illuminating Canuck Design

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Known for casting a spotlight on Canadian designers, east-end retailer Made Design introduces the latest wares from Vancouver-based Annie Tung and glass blower Brad Turner. The duo studied at ECALin Switzerland, which is likely where they got their polished sensibility. Their new collection, first introduced last fall at IDS West in Vancouver, is a playful study of the way that different shapes and materials engage with light. We especially loved this sculptural jug-like table lamp.

Free, Made Design, 394 King St E
Jan 17-22


Get a closer look at what you can expect to find in the 2024 New Builds Issue of Designlines Magazine

In the 2024 Spring/Summer Issue of Designlines, we focus on New Builds and “celebrate the profound impact of creating something new, not just as an architectural endeavour but as a testament to laying down roots and shaping the very essence of our city’s identity,” editor-in-chief Joseph Cicerone writes.



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