On Thursday I took a quick spin through IIDEX Canada, the designer trade show founded by IDC (Interior Designers of Canada) and now owned by Informa Canada. IIDEX is very trade oriented, not a consumer show, so the focus tends to be on materials and innovative products, as well as on contract furniture and industrial suppliers. That said, the 2013 show pumped up the sex appeal with a number of special exhibits that felt VERY editorial, entertaining for the trade but targeted (I’m guessing) at the press machine.
What else to make of the massive display by Mason Studio, a fantastical world of cardboard flora and fauna surrounding a surreal, inflatable living space. That’s right, the sofas and bed in the pic below are inflatable.
IIDEX also partnered this year with Toronto Design Offsite to showcase the work of emerging local designers. No coincidence that IIDEX’s new Director of Marketing + Sponsorship, Jeremy Vandermeij, is TODO’s co-founder and former Executive Director.
I was at IIDEX ostensibly to cover Woodshop, below, a special feature this year organized by the City of Toronto’s Economic Development office. Toronto boasts North America’s third largest design cluster and that’s a horn the City is eager to blow.
Woodshop was conceived to draw attention to the challenges and opportunities left in the wake of the Emerald Ash Borer, a pest that will bring down more than 200,000 Toronto ash trees in the next five years. The City’s Strategic Growth & Sector Development unit wants to reframe the disaster as an opportunity by encouraging local artisans and manufacturers to take advantage of this burgeoning Ash resource and keep the felled trees out of the wood chipper.
To that end, the City, with partners Ontario Wood, Urban Tree Salvage and Ideacious, conscripted 15 local designers to create furniture from urban Ash, a hardwood that responds well to steam bending and exhibits a wide range of colour and grain. Above left is a detail of Kevin Armour’s Truss table and above right is Rob Southcott’s whimsical Fort York book caddy.
The Brothers Dressler, above, (Lars, left, Jason, right) have been longtime champions of urban wood salvage and they created the Elbow Chair to demonstrate Ash’s strength, grain and colour. My favorite design from Woodshop was the Slash + Burn pendant lights (over Jason’s shoulder) from emerging designers Fieldhouse, Ford + Reed.
Elsewhere at IIDEX there was a preponderance of lighting innovations such as the Cristal Controls‘ display above of DALI (Digital Addressable Lighting Interface) technology. Johnsonite put together what I thought was a fun demo (below) of its various flooring options. The installation allowed punters to test the skid factor of the various materials while also showcasing the graphic possibilities.
Tusch Seating showed some sexy new chair designs crafted from Freeform, an innovative polyurethane foam that’s super durable and resistant to spills and stains.
I was also impressed by some of the fresh carpet tiles being shown by Interface, below. The designs are abstract, as well as texturally diverse and the company is encouraging a mix and match approach.
On the other end of the carpeting spectrum — the high, high end — Amala was showing a line of tufted and flatweave rugs made in Thailand from Zee Silk, a completely organic and hand-reeled fibre that yeilds the softest, and yes, most expensive silk imaginable.
The carpets run in the $20,000 range so definitely a budget buster but the difference between regular silk (course) and Zee silk (soft and lustrous) is truly night and day.
I was also impressed by the iridescent, printed aluminum wall panels being shown by Armorex, below. The lightweight panels can be custom sized and are durable and beautiful and cost about $5 per square foot.
One of the unqualified hits of the show was Herman Miller’s new Spun chair, a fun, spinning top of a seat not recommended for cocktail hour.
And finally a tip of the hat to IIDEX and Burn Contract which sponsored a student design contest to come up with concepts for a “graffiti bench” (below): finalists were displayed throughout the show.