Mercer Union’s Stellar Living auction

Mercer Union’s Stellar Living auction
Barr Gilmore's neon chandelier

Interior furnishings, lighting and decor by 50 Toronto artists are up for bid at the artist-run gallery’s annual auction. Here are the top 10 investment-worthy pieces.

Each spring, Mercer Union, one of Toronto’s most successful artist-run centres, auctions off a suite of home-inspired works of art handcrafted by 50 local artists who are more accustomed to painting or drawing than wielding a hammer. The annual fundraiser, called Stellar Living, is chock-full of one-off designs not available anywhere else. The live auction takes place May 12 at 7:00pm. Here’s our wish list.

1. Barr Gilmore’s neon light fixture reads I am not trapped by my desires – a rather suggestive phrase that appears in a circle of white light, combining stark industrial form with the intimate glow of a chandelier. Est. $2400.

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2. There’s something molecular about this steel and hand-turned maple coat rack by Commute Home, an interior design studio well known in Toronto for its many restaurant renos, including Nyood and two Terroni locales. The lucky winner of the provocatively named AXO1 Coat Rack, V2, can have the piece customized to meet the dimensions of his or her home. Est. $695.

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3. Corwyn Lund is known for exploring the edges of fine art and design, and for bringing an ironic sensibility to his work. Both are evident in his photographs, like this playful C-print titled PK20 Drag, a visual riff on the toboggan-like shape of the iconic mid-century modern Fritz Hansen chair. Est. $2000.

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4. One Billion Years: Past and Future is a cheeky record of our literary obsessions created by Dave Dyment. This print depicts a row of 24 books with titles ticking off eras, from The Last Billion Years to Fifty Years Ago, and on to The Next 200 Years and Eternity. Est. $800.

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5. Two Maru Sidetables by David Chang convey a spare yet tactile aesthetic that balances function with a stroke of ornamentation. Understated detailing in copper and canvas is used to set off simple birch tabletops. Est. $1300.

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6. Dylan McKinnon Furniture Design’s Console Table is the most functional piece up for auction. Its three-legged, oblong half-moon form is made of ash and poplar, topped by a white surface that perfectly exemplifies the designer’s minimalist sensibility. Est. $1900.

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7. Kathryn Walter’s family has been in the felt business for over a century, so she knows a lot about the old material, and her FELT Studio pushes it into a whole new contemporary realm. Spool Stools’ cylindrical shape takes its cue from the ancient material, evoking petrified tree stumps. Est. $1000.

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8. Jade Rude’s The Flat Top takes the iconic form of a grandfather clock and removes the details until there’s almost nothing left but the functional hands. It’s a piece that’s indicative of the designer’s playful, semiotic way of looking at and reinterpreting everyday forms. Est. $2200.

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9. James Carl is a master at mixing up materials and shapes in unusual ways. With Convoiture #4, he’s created an animal-like sculpture from the metal strips of Venetian blinds that are woven together using caning techniques. The oddly shaped piece conjures up different silhouettes with each turn of its elusive form. Est. $12,000.

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10. In Patrick Cull’s series of “gravity paintings,” concentric geometric shapes are precision-cut in PVC and meticulously painted with vinyl stripes. But when Isosceles Triangle Two is hung on a wall, the lines shift and the forms warp with gravity, creating unexpected patterns. Est. $3000.

Tickets to the Gala Auction on May 12 are $75, but absentee bidding is available online. For more information, visit the website:

Mercer Union, 1286 Bloor St. West. Doors at 6pm; auction at 7pm.

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