This is NOT a comprehensive look at this year’s Interior Design Show in Toronto. By 11 pm Thursday, after an entire day of talks and exhibitions — including a guided tour of the Gladstone Hotel’s annual Come Up to My Room — I was knocked down and dragged out. Lineups dissuaded me from touring the always popular IDS demonstration spaces (How Do You Live?) and I completely missed the DesignGenNext, the show of promising student work from Ryerson, Sheridan, OCAD, Humber and George Brown.
Even without those pieces of the puzzle my IDS experience was exhilarating. This year, I started with the Studio North exhibition of new work by Canadian designers and Prototype, a launching pad for innovative new products. The recyle and repurpose theme was popular again this year as it has been for much of the past decade. Brothers Dressler stretched their own limits with a dining suite, above, that combined salvaged wood and metal Mart Stam chair frames as well as showstopping lighting. Artist Gilbert VandenHeuvel calls himself The ReCycler, a clever allusion to the fact that he repurposes bicycle parts to create eye-popping furniture and lighting, below.
In a similar spirit is the work of Toronto designer Ronald Isai, above, who explores furniture, sculpture and lighting with rigorous precision.
Some of my favorite work this year featured curvaseous woodwork and none was more astonishing than the pieces displayed by Quebec’s Kino Guérin, below.
I was so taken with Guérin’s S Shelf, below, that I proposed it to my latest decorating client; alas, by the time I got an enthusiastic thumbs up on the purchase, Guérin had sold the shelf to someone else. Fortunately, he has another one already started in his workshop and he kindly agreed to cover the shipping costs from La Belle Province.
Almost as jaw-dropping was Fishtnk Design Factory’s beautiful Cortical Chair, below, which was drawing appreciative oohs and awes. (The company’s website appears to have been highjacked so I won’t direct you to it.)
Toronto-based Woodlight is also bending wood with surprising results and I was suitably impressed with their warm, glowing pendants.
Nomo Creations‘ Orbital table was another crowd pleaser with its deceptively simple elliptical rings table. This kind of short run production piece does not come cheap, however — the Orbital retails for $1,699.
I was especially impressed to chat with a couple of designers who have abandoned established careers to pursue their creative impulses. Ottawa-based Christopher Solar used to be a software designer but his hands were restless and his mind longed for more material challenges. He’s a self-taught designer and accomplished woodworker and when he decided that his Danish Lounge Chair and Ottoman, below, should have a woven seat and back, he taught himself to do that, too. Solar isn’t at IDS shopping for manufacturers or distributors, he wants his designs to remain handmade, not reduced to lowest common denominator parts and processes. He told me he hopes to connect with designers and well-off consumers who can afford the luxury of artisan furnishings, crafted with passion.
Glass artist Caroline Hébert was a school teacher whose love of glass led her to create fused glass installations like the one she’s showing at IDS, below. I hope interior designer Amy Lau discovered Hébert’s small booth because Lau consistently favours this kind of artesanal glass work in her high-end designs.
I was delighted to finally meet Toronto’s Tahir Mahmood, below, whose creative and colourful floor and table lamps (available through Pimlico, Caviar 20 and other select retailers) have gained a lot of attention locally. At IDS 12 Mahmood is pushing into unexpectedly neutral territory with a new floor lamp series, below left, and he’s working with new materials like brass and copper.
And speaking of new materials or at least materials used in surprising new ways, Dupont Corian really pushed the envelope this year working with the UUfie design team to create the remarkable flower-like chairs below.
From gossamer to angular, I also loved the Eyeful coffee table, below, from Alberta-based IZM.
I have loads of other observations and images to share but I have to hit the road this morning so maybe I can do a part two post tomorrow. Until then . . .
All photos by Christopher Jones