From annual favourites like the Studio North and Prototype exhibitions, to new additions such as the Select furniture showcase and The District’s cash-and-carry market, there was plenty to see at IDS Toronto’s 2023 edition. Here, we round up 16 standout moments from this year’s show.
At the heart of the show floor, the Moving Parts exhibition distilled the theme of this year show. The exhibit explored how product design can meaningfully engage the most pressing issues facing societies today – from climate change and material waste to the future of work. Curated by IDS National Director Will Sorrell, Moving Parts brought together a wide range of transformative designs, ranging from fully recycled and recyclable materials to typological reinventions.
Caesarstone debuted its newly expanded material palette — which now includes porcelain and natural stone offerings, alongside the Quartz countertops that the surfacing manufacturer is best known for — in an installation designed by Brian Brown Studio that highlighted compelling material juxtapositions in a blend of indoor and outdoor environments.
Obakki produces designs in partnership with global artisans. Woven by hand from raw cotton by a collective of women in Mexico, this Morse wall hanging spells out a secret word in Morse code — and can be custom-ordered to specify any message of choice.
An elevated take (literally) on flooring. This dramatically carved — and elegantly lit — wood installation by Twelve Oaks Flooring won Gold in Best Booth Design (400 square feet) at this year’s show. The sinuous form invited visitors inside, where an immersive film about sustainable manufacturing played on a loop.
At IDS’ debut Select furniture showcase, Toronto small-batch furniture design and fabrication studio Coolican & Company introduced a handsome and comfortable new lounge chair — Parkside — that rests a leather cushion on a woven rope net seat. Shown in a badass black-on-black configuration, the chair was also on display in Scandinavian white oak.
Visiting from Montreal, home decor brand Cyrc highlighted the circular design philosophy that drives its sculptural vase, bowl and planter designs, each of which is 3-D printed from recycled plastic. Moreover, if a customer ever decides that they no longer want one of Cyrc’s designs, the studio will pay for it to be mailed back to them and melt it down for use in a future design. The company also previewed an upcoming side table design, while on the other side of town, it debuted a fun window display at 313 Design Market on Roncesvalles Avenue.
The Studio North exhibition is an annual standout, showcasing one-off designs by local makers across furniture, lighting, accessories and more. This year’s exhibition featured delicate hardware and a playfully rounded chair by Maha Alavi Studio.
ECAL alum Sarah Yao-Rishea, who wowed us at IDS 2022 with her tubular metal Alcove vases, returned to Studio North with a contemporary take on the round mirror.
Toronto-based studio Frevent Design presented the low-slung Renegade Lounge Chair as part of Studio North.
This year’s Prototype exhibition, which features product ideas for the residential market, was teeming with vibrant colour and bold patterns. The angular Hedgehog Chair (left), designed by The Circular Studio, features a seat made from over 200 plastic bottles. Meanwhile, Kayla Della Nebbia’s Checkmate Table (right) brings the chess board into three dimensions. The graphic piece took over 120 hours to fabricate.
With its vibrant pink-to-orange ombre tambour door, the Sex on the Beech Cabinet by furniture design student Alison Postma is as quirky as its name.
Michelle Foran’s wooden lounge chair design was displayed alongside an equally sculptural side table by Zeynep Boyan.
Montreal-based industrial designer Olivier Laberge’s Danish-inspired Labrador seating collection debuted at Wanted Design in 2021. This year, the Labrador Dining Chair earned a matching blue “Love Tag” from our sister publication Designlines.
A new area of IDS, The District, was dedicated to cash-and-carry designs. Sculptural vases by glassblower Rob Raeside, currently an artist-in-residence at Harbourfront Centre, were a whimsical standout. Featuring vases in both frosted and clearma finishes — and playful forms that resembled bowling pins, mushrooms, and beehives — Raeside’s colourful collection felt like an early preview of spring.
Senior Editor Stefan Novakovic spoke to Decanthropy founder Ian Rolston about the role of designers in creating equity, from prioritizing accessibility to specifying from brands owned by underrepresented groups.
Though the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia’s redesign is regrettably on hold, this panel discussion with Shirley Blumberg, Omar Gandhi and Jordan Bennett, moderated by Editor in Chief Elizabeth Pagliacolo, left us inspired by the firms’ sensitive and collaborative design approach.