If Radiant Dark is about conceptual design, the Gladstone Hotel’s Come Up To My Room is about conceptual ART, all caps. Eleven rooms plus hallways, a stairwell and a ballroom in Toronto’s renowned art hotel are turned over to teams of artists who are given carte blanche to transform the spaces.
Of the 23 works and installations on show until Sunday, I can’t say I had a single favorite, although the origami light fixture, below, by Eric Mathew & Andrew Ooi comes close. Come Up to My Room is very much a cumulative experience, one that I highly recommend.
Not a single team chose to interpret their space as a hotel room with a bed, luggage rack, the accoutrements of travel. No, these artists are hunting bigger game, certainly weirder game.
Some of the teams, like Mathew and Ooi, seated left in Room 204, work together regularly, but others, like Erin McCutcheon, Einav Mekori, Annie Tung and Andrée Wejsmann had never even met or discussed how their pieces would work together in Room 210, below. Their shared inspiration–a Brothers Grimm story called The Juniper Tree–provides the only through line. Erin, who was in the room when I toured it, said she was pleasantly surprised by how well the pieces fit; different materials, different approaches, but in the end, a beguiling whole.
As you climb the Gladstone stairs to the second floor exhibition space, you’re greeted by the words, “Come Inside,” spelled out in reverse lettering with common house keys. It’s an impressive and delightful piece by Andra Hayward, Shannon Linde and Christina Ott.
Another fun space is room 212, below, by Motherbrand. Dubbed Penny Smash, the room is built around an old-timey coin machine with a crank arm, the floor a sea of pennies. Unbelievably, each coin is a pressed original by artists Douglas Coupland, Marian Bantjes, Burton Kramer and Paul Butler. Colourful, graphic slogan boards are painted on the four walls.
Another show highlight is also the easiest to miss because it’s on the ground level in a ballroom off to the left of the main staircase. There you’ll find a series of fantastical light fixtures by Korean designer Kwangho Lee who has crocheted electrical cord into fanciful pendants, some quite complete, some a mess of tangles. Definitely worth a look.
The lead pic, top, and the one below, depict 15 Light by Derek McLeod, a hallway installation of 50 copper light domes that reflect one another in dazzling ways. Come Up To My Room may not be about decorating but it’s certainly inspiring and thought provoking, the flip side of the much more commercial Interior Design Show playing just down Dufferin Street at Exhibition Place. Toronto, this weekend, really is an embarrassment of riches for anyone interested in art, design and decor.