IDS 13: Not Enough WOW

It’s design week in Toronto and I’m busier than a Christmas elf on December 24th, so today’s post is a fast and dirty recap of last night’s big kick-off party for IDS 13. I was underwhelmed by the 15th annual Interior Design Show; there were some great moments — pieces I loved, spaces that sang — but when all was said and done there just wasn’t enough WOW on the floor, not enough colour, not enough originality, not enough designers who really brought it.

The designer spaces feature was a particular letdown this year. Riffing on the theme of How Do You Work? only BlackLab Architects really delivered with a simple but magnificently effective backdrop wall made of coloured pencil crayons. It was the strongest moment in the entire show.

Other exhibitors made hay with strong colour but there weren’t enough of them. BoConcept let blue do the work and it was a brilliant choice. Same for custom garage experts, OnWall Solutions, below.

IKEA always delivers at IDS and they did not disappoint this year with a modern kitchen, below, that pulled out the stops and earned its props.

I loved the Montauk exhibit, below, which was simple but enveloping; a wall of retail catalogues comprised the backdrop while the ceiling was hung with pages from the book. The space was monochromatic and serene and really spoke to the brand’s identity. Well done.

Probably the most significant and striking feature of the show was designer Oki Sato‘s work for Caesarstone, below. Located at the geographic centre of the show, the space was a giant white box filled with Sato’s ingenious, nested, one-legged tables that rely on each other to stand up. I didn’t get the space at first, it was so big and empty — except for all those tables, of course — but there was a Zen quality to it that won me over on my second pass. The tables themselves were gleaming and beautiful, like so many river rocks scattered along a shore.

On the other end of the decorating spectrum, Oakville, Ontario-based retailer Cocoon produced a sumptuous, elegantly composed room that was calm yet colourful, transitional and exactly right for its sophisticated, upper-middle class market. Again, well done.

The only other “space” I felt worthy of shooting was Minotti‘s tasteful, contemporary living room, below. Colour was deployed quietly but confidently, it felt exactly right for the brand.

On the product side, there were a few WOWs for me. I especially liked the delicate yet earthy wooden pendant lights from Montreal’s Atelier Cocotte, which look like miniature hot air balloons. And Archilume‘s exquisite P3A Diffuse lights looked like glowing icicles, perfect for a Toronto design show in January.

Inspired by Aboriginal motifs of the Canadian northwest, Sabina Hill‘s Harvest chair, below, was one of my favorites of the show.

I also loved designer Jamie Sajdak’s Summit coffee table, below, an ingenious design that I liked even better than his brilliant Orbital table, which caught my attention at last year’s Interior Design Show. Jamie works with his father Eric Sajdak, who helps to manufacture the pieces. Well priced and well made, I see a bright future for Nomo Creations.

The other cocktail table that bowled me over was Reed Hansuld‘s Echo table in walnut and glass, below. Shown by Troy Seidman’s Caviar20 the table was one of the most stylish and sophisticated pieces in the show.

And finally, there were a couple of very different desks that I loved for very different reasons. In Prototype, Projector Design Studio‘s 001desk let colour do the talking and it was a good conversation. I can absolutely see this product in the marketplace.

And talented Toronto-based designer Tahir Mahmood showed a canopied desk inspired by the Moghul arches of his native Pakistan. The millwork and detailing were especially good and of course I responded to the Indo flavour of the piece. In an open loft such a design would add architectural interest and help to delineate an office/work space. Maybe IDS should have asked Mahmood to be in How Do You Work?.

So those are my quick highlights from this year’s show. IDS is open to the public Saturday and Sunday at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (255 Front Street West), tickets are $22 at the door. Elsewhere, Toronto is going design mad all along Queen Street West and Dundas West as galleries, retailers and pop-ups take part in a growing indie alternative to IDS called Toronto Design Offsite. If you’ve got an afternoon to spare I highly recommend a stroll. The Gladstone Hotel‘s 10th anniversary edition of Come Up To My Room is also in full-swing and I loved the show when I toured it yesterday. So get out there, people!


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Friday, January 25, 2013 by Chris
This post was written by - who has written 865 posts on styleNorth.

6 Comments For This Post

  1. Julie Says:

    That canopied desk is awesome.

  2. gayle Says:

    Oh CHRIS what a way to perk up a snowy January day…Gayle of going to come up to my room at the Gladstone

  3. Eye See Pretty Says:

    Chris, I felt the show also lacked the wow factor it had in previous years. There were also some major players not at the show this year. Style at Home, Elte and Snob were nowhere to be found.


  4. Chris Says:

    Thanks for commenting Amy. I was especially aware of not seeing Elte cause they always bring an excellent display; I figured I somehow missed them. And yes, Denise at SNOB usually pulls out a few stops, not to mention bringing her vivacious personality. Missed them both.

  5. Wallis Says:

    And I missed you, Chris. I left my post maybe only 2x in the entire evening…Thanks for the props, Chris!

  6. Claire Says:

    I thought I missed the Elte booth too! I kept looking for it but eventually figured out it didn’t exist. Chris, you remarked on all of my favourites in this post! I too was underwhelmed by IDS this year…perhaps because it was so great last year (I thought). But that Montauk space, the Cocotte lamps, the Cocoon room and the fantastic garage storage products were all highlights for me. Especially the garage storage units! Really all you need, plus a fancy chandelier. :)

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