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Around every corner you turned at the Interior Design Show in Janu­ary, it seemed people were getting together. Over at the feature exhibit How Do You Work?, Heather Dubbeldam and Blacklab Architects of Toronto and Igloodgn and Samare of Montreal installed four impressive (and very different) office spaces in compact 15-metre-square containers, even helping one another set up until the wee hours. For Igloo Design’s mid-century-inspired space – ­complete with such Cassina reissues as Vico Magistretti’s Nuvola Rossa shelf and Franco Albini’s 833 Cavalletto trestle table – the standout was the geometric floor from XILO1934 of Italy. In the Blacklab exhibit, where a looped video of the firm’s computer desktops was projected onto a translucent table, the ingenious element was a wall mosaic composed of 12,000 coloured pencil crayons, which Blacklab donated to schools and community centres afterwards.

In product design, AyA Kitchens and Baths presented its collaboration with architect Johnson Chou: the Base system of modular cabinetry fits any room, big or small. On display was the sleek kitchen version, whose hidden countertop swings out neatly to serve as a dining table or a secondary workspace. But perhaps the most poignant result of a partnership came via Japan. Oki Sato of Nendo showed off Caesarstone’s versatile Classico quartz surface by fashioning tables with three interconnected tops. On the night before the show, he stayed up to curate his Stone Garden, going so far as to oversee the installation of the lighting for it, then gave an illuminating yet quirky Azure Trade Talk. Before an over-flowing crowd, he brought his cartoon-like sketches to life with an animated Power Point, and demonstrated why he heads up one of the most prolific studios on the planet.

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1 BeoPlay A9 Speakers by Bang & Olufsen
B&O’s BeoPlay A9 speakers exude Scandi­nav­ian cool. The five amps produce deep, ambient tones, which can be wirelessly streamed through smart phones and tablets. With detachable oak, beech or teak legs, the pieces are designed to be placed on the floor or hung on a wall. ­bang‑olufsen.com

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2 Classico by Oki Sato
At his minimalist exhibit, Oki Sato presented clusters of tables (for display purposes only) to illustrate the pos­si­bil­ities of Caesarstone’s Classico. In seven shapes and nine neutral shades, they formed a seemingly floating landscape, thanks in part to the ether­eal lighting. ­caesarstone.ca

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3 Geometrico by Luca Scacchetti
Igloo Design chose bold flooring to contrast the elegant furnishings in its How Do You Work? setting. Geometrico parquet from Italy’s XILO1934, by architect Luca Scacchetti, is finished in oak or larch, among other species. ­igloodesign.ca

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4 Babylon by Ryan Taylor
After taking a hiatus from industrial design, Toronto’s Ryan Taylor returned with Babylon, a clever aluminum light that also serves as a planter. When hung above a kitchen counter, for instance, it’s ideal for growing herbs. ­oniprojects.com

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5 Harris by Montauk
Harris by Montauk has a deceptively sleek form, yet it feels cozy, with a seat depth of 102 centimetres and feather cushions (shown in a linen-poly blend). The length and fabric are customizable. ­montauksofa.com

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6 Base by Johnson Chou
Johnson Chou and AyA Kitchens and Baths teamed up for the Base modular system, which consists of one support and various components. In the kitchen version, a Corian-clad island conceals a work surface or table that pivots out like a Swiss Army knife. ­ayakitchens.com

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7 Gilliam chair by Rodolfo Dordoni
Minotti’s classically styled Gilliam chair and footstool were on display at the booth of Interior Elements, a Toronto showroom that specializes in high-end Italian brands. Designed by Rodolfo Dordoni, this elegant yet comfortable chair and footstool hark back to Nordic furniture from the ’50s and ’60s. ­interiorelements.ca

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8 Windsor by Heidi Earnshaw
Heidi Earnshaw borrowed from the Windsor style for her bench of the same name. The natural black walnut patina is achieved with an oxidization process that uses steel wool and vinegar. ­heidiearnshawdesign.com

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9 Extro by Ceragres
Extro hexagonal porcelain tiles, by Ceragres, allow for endless, stunning pattern variations in a neutral palette of black, white, mud and cement. ­ceragres.ca

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10 Mano by Pietro Chiesa
Fontana Arte re-released Pietro Chiesa’s Mano lamp from 1932. A marble powder and resin hand sits on a black base of the same material, beneath a PVC-lined fabric shade. ­fontanaarte.com

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11 Lady Gaga carpet by Robyn Waffle
Lady Gaga inspired Robyn Waffle of Modallion to design her 90-by-245-centimetre wool and silk rug, an original piece hand knotted in Nepal and available through Reznick Carpets. ­modallion.com

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12 Rock Panels by ModularArts
Joined into a continuous sculptural wall, ModularArts’ Interlocking Rock Panels, exhibited by Erthcoverings, come in 28 motifs, including Dune (shown). Measuring 80 centimetres squared, the lightweight cast mineral panels are durable and fire resistant. erthcoverings.com

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13 Bell Table by Sebastian Herkner
Sebastian Herkner’s Bell Table overturns the traditional material makeup of a glass top and a metal base. De­signed for ClassiCon, it features a hand-blown tinted glass base that recalls the curved silhouette of a bell, with a top in solid brass. ­classicon.com

Toronto’s off-site circuit has developed a strong reputation for staging a must-see survey of experimental design. Among the whopping 40 exhibits and events that took over the downtown west end this year, the undeniable star was Manufacturers + Designers Connect. The standout product – Maïwenn Castellan’s elegant, sculptural brass watering can, a collaboration with Oliver-Woods Metal Spinning and Lighting Nelson & Garrett – exemplified how designers can work with local manufacturers to move past one-offs and produce small batch runs.

Yet ingenuity was found everywhere around town. At the Not Fork­chops showcase of unusual tableware, Jessica Nakanishi displayed an exalted bento box – in porcelain. At the Capacity show in honour of female design titans, Talia Silva’s pendant lights, which resembled crater-pocked moons, recalled Patricia Urquiola’s Déchirer tiles for Mutina. Meanwhile, the annual transformation of Dundas Street West shops and ­boîtes into mini-galleries proffered myriad delights (among them Dayna Gedney and Neil Botelho’s sunset-evoking mirror, hung in a restaurant), like glimpses of a city in creative bloom.
By Nina Boccia

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1 Risel Set Mirror by Dayna Gedney and Neil Botelho
A collaboration between Dayna Gedney and Neil Botelho, this entrance­way mirror was mounted on a wall inside Archive, a Dundas West eatery. The slotted maple shelf accommodates the mirror on the right or left. ­jbplusdg.com

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2 Pyramid Cushions by Bev Hisey
Inside her pint-sized shop on Dundas West, textile designer Bev Hisey debuted a collection of pyramidal cushions, in a wool and nylon blend. Each one contrasts black and grey, grey and white, orange and grey, or orange and white. ­bevhisey.com

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3 Porcelain Pendants by Talia Silva
Inspired by Patricia Urquiola’s playfully tactile approach (specifically her lace-embossed Déchirer tiles for Mutina), Talia Silva created a trio of porcelain pendants for the Capacity show. ­capacitytoronto.com

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4 Brass Watering Can by Maïwenn Castellan
For Manufacturers + Designers Con­nect, Maïwenn Castellan worked with Toronto’s Oliver-Woods Metal Spinning and Lighting Nelson & Garrett to produce an ele­gant brass watering can. ­mplusdc.com

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5 Geppetto’s Boy by Simon Ford
Referencing Pinocchio’s exaggerated nose-to-body ratio, this asymmetric bench handcrafted by Simon Ford took up temporary residence at the Comrags fashion boutique. Perched on four short legs, it incorporates height-adjustable hooks and mirrors. ­simonfordstudio.com

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6 Bento Box by Jessica Nakanishi
Inspired by Japanese cuisine and bento boxes, Jessica Nakanishi introduced her series of handmade ceramic plates at Not Forkchops. No two dishes (including this one shown with five compartments) feature the same geometric arrangement. ­jnakanishi.com

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7 Firesite by Tomas Rojcik
Come Up to My Room, the Gladstone Hotel’s alternative design event, marked its 10th anniversary. In a darkened room, Tomas Rojcik strung up five of his three-pronged LED pendants with wooden casings for a campfire effect. ­tomasrojcik.com

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8 Design Installation by Mason Studio
Mason Studio took over the Pavilion furniture showroom with its ether­eal installation, which consisted of translucent tissue paper billowing over trestle legs and illuminated from within. The creases and folds filtered light like clouds at dusk. ­mason-studio.com

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