Too Cool For School

With over 25,000 people working in six design disciplines (architecture, landscape architecture, interior, industrial, graphic and fashion design), Toronto has the third largest design workforce in North America, coming in behind New York and Boston. For all of Canada, that number climbs to 75,000. And those numbers don’t take into account dozens of other disciplines.

Bottom line: design is big business. And it’s only going to get bigger. It wasn’t so long ago that going into design was not the kind of career option you brought home to mom. But today, it’s a booming industry that could just offer the rewarding future many high school students are searching for.

Informing these designers of tomorrow is the goal of the Explore Design Show, being held for the second year in Toronto, this October. Merchandise Market Properties Canada has had a hand in the design industry for many years, organizing the Interior Design Show as well as IIDEX/ NeoCon Canada, both in Toronto. Last year it expanded its audience by introducing this new show, geared towards 15 to 19 year olds.

Whether students are interested in designing cities or skateboards, Explore Design provides the opportunity to learn what kind of education they’ll need, and where to get it. Over 50 schools are represented on site, many with booths designed by students. Interactive exhibits allow students a hands-on experience; many of these booths are also manned by students, who can offer a more relatable view of the schools and programs.

This year the show will feature 35 seminars and six keynote speakers. Some of the experts kids can pick up tips from will include fashion designers Joyce Gunhouse and Judy Cornish, of Canadian label Comrags; Suzanne Dimma, design editor and television personality; and Johnson Chou, whose recent work with Red Bull will no doubt create a lot of interest among the young crowd. Hambly and Woolley’s Bob Hambly will head up a seminar on logo design and Nienkmper’s Mark Mller will be there talking industrial design. One of the biggest hits of last year was Treehugger’s Design for the Greater Good seminar, which is part of the show again.

The second annual Explore Design show will be held Oct. 1 and 2, at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Tickets and further info about the shows program can be found at