The annual Toronto Design Offsite festival (TODO) transforms the city into a buzzing showcase of great contemporary design from January 19 to 25. Below, our picks for five must-see exhibitions, talks and product unveilings.
1 Come up to my Room
January 16 to 25, Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen Street West)
Forty creatives of various disciplines check in to the Gladstone and transform the historic Queen West hotel with alternative art and performance pieces. Now in its 12th year, CUTMR brings an eclectic mix of imaginative work to the guest rooms, public spaces and nearby streets. This year’s lineup involves 25 installations, including hand-beaded skulls by Ricky Sosa from Revolucionario Design and incredibly intricate lace-inspired works by artist Lizz Aston. If you’d like to rub elbows with the local talent, don’t miss the opening or closing parties; tickets are $10.
2 Do Design Window Installations
January 19 to 25, Dundas West (between Bathurst St and Grace St)
Local designers fill the windows and cover the floors of a dozen-plus west-end shops with their exciting new works. Among our most anticipated displays: an installation by husband-and-wife metal forgers Unitfive Design at clothing shop Comrags (812 Dundas St W). In-Context, a series of documentary shorts by Andrea Lacalamita and Raja Moussaoui, examines the social impact of significant Canadian architecture, and will play 24-7 in seven storefronts. A walking tour of the displays takes place on Sunday, January 25 at 2 pm.
3 Outside the Box
January 19 to 25, Design Within Reach (435 King Street West; other venues)
This series invites designers from eight cities across Canada and the United States to package a box that captures the creative spirit of their community. Chicago’s box, for example, reflects how artists battle the city’s vicious winter by creating designs that “break the ice” – either by encouraging conversation or favouring warm colours and materials. Other cities participating include Detroit, Los Angeles, New York and Seattle, as well as Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver – the latter three hosted at other venues. Collectively, the boxes demonstrate how a region’s distinct climate, culture and landscape inspire local talent.
4 Exporting Toronto Design
January 20, 6:30pm, Lightform (267 Niagara Street)
While Toronto has no shortage of talented designers, the city remains on the cusp of being considered a true international design capital. To address this stalemate, some of the local design community’s top brass gather to discuss how Toronto can better promote its makers beyond city borders. Among the expert panelists weighing in: Umbra founding partner Paul Rowan and Bruce Mau Design creative director Laura Stein.
5 Anderssen Voll & Mjölk
January 21 to February 23, with a lecture on January 24 from 11am to 12pm, Mjölk (2959 Dundas Street W)
John and Juli Baker’s Junction shop-gallery, Mjölk, is a year-round portal to some of the world’s top design destinations, primarily showcasing contemporary classics by Scandinavian and Japanese talents. For Design Week, the pair unveils a locally manufactured collection of indoor gardening objects designed in collaboration with one of their favourite faraway studios, Anderssen & Voll. Mjölk will also host a retrospective of the Norwegian studio’s work, which includes airy sofas and origami-inspired S & P grinders for the likes of Muuto, Foscarini and Hay.