Kicking off today and running until January 22, the Toronto Design Offsite Festival 2017 transforms the city into a design bonanza, showcasing the best of the local scene. There are more than 100 events to check out – including these must-see exhibits and installations.
Compact Living – January 16-22
Umbra Concept Store, 165 John Street
No one gets efficient home accessories better than Umbra, which is known for its playful bath and kitchen staples. In partnership with TO DO, the powerhouse manufacturer showcases 11 designer prototypes by the likes of ceramicist Alissa Coe and quilt maker Libs Elliott. Each object is envisioned to make the most of tight living quarters and, based on visitor and jury response, the best of the bunch may be put into production in the future. Outside, another must-see: the Kohn Shnier-designed two-storey flagship’s pink fins have been replaced by iridescent strips resembling shimmering oil puddles.
Come Up to My Room – January 19-22
Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen St. W.
Multi-disciplinary creatives check in to the 128-year-old Gladstone Hotel to mount site-specific installations in the lobby, hallways and guest rooms. For this year’s theme, Transplant, more than 55 designers remark on the movement of people and ideas. The eclectic mix of edgy and unexpected work includes Grove Collective’s garden of mechanical plants, plus Kaitlyn Bourden’s Memories Relocated, which wraps latex around furniture pieces hand-carved by the artist to resemble tables and chairs from her childhood.
Bright – New Work by Annie Tung & Brad Turner – January 17-22
Made Design, 394 King St. E.
Known for casting a spotlight on Canadian designers, east-end retailer Made Design introduces the latest wares from Vancouver-based Annie Tung and Brad Turner. The duo’s 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. Disc-shaped acrylic shelving throws rainbow-hued shadows, while test tube-esque pendant lights hang from suspension cords snaked through sculptural glass piping.
That Is Best Which Works Best – January 18-22
Mjölk, 2959 Dundas St. W.
Junction boutique Mjölk continues to add to its line of exclusive homewares envisioned in collaboration with top international talent. This year’s collection introduces functional objects that look simultaneously contemporary and quaint. Knockout pieces include fire tools by EQ3 creative director Thom Fougere and a toolbox by Norwegian designer Hallgeir Homstvedt – both manufactured locally.
Outside the Box – January 16-22
Gladstone Hotel Art Hut, 1181 Queen St. W.
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. Several common threads emerge – Detroit rocks an industrial chic aesthetic, while San Francisco Bay Area makers embrace a calm, beach-y style. This year introduces new cities into the mix, including Asheville and Medicine Hat.
Work: Visual Arts Exhibitions – January 21-April 23
Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay W.
Harbourfront Centre woos this month with four design-heavy shows. In Katharine Tessier’s Everyday Lighting, multidisciplinary Craft & Design Studio residents illuminate the waterfront arts hub with luminous prototypes. In Workwear, a co-production with the Instituto Italiano di Cultura, bold looks by Issey Miyake and Vivienne Westwood inspire the fashion-forward set. Rounding out the programming is Melanie Egan’s The Essentials, a jewelry exhibition, and Workaday, a collection of the curious tools artists make magic with.