Show Time

As we do every year, the design community descended upon the Direct Energy Centre in February, for the Interior Design Show. In the current economic climate, one had to wonder if the show would be worth braving the winter weather that is always extra icy so close to Toronto’s waterfront. But the IDS didn’t disappoint.

The heavy hitters were out as always: Krups, Ikea, Jenn-Air, Samsung, Hansgrohe, Keilhauer, Montauk, Nienkmper, Thermador, Para Paints, Steelcase…the list goes on and on. And the speakers were stellar: this year’s trade talks gave showgoers the opportunity to hear from Dutch architect Ben Van Berkel; Job Smeets and Nynke Tynagel of Antwerp’s Studio Job; and Paris-based designer Christophe Delcourt. Weekend Design Talks featured Dutch designer Piet Boon and FashionTelevision’s Glen Baxter; Matt Davis, of HGTV’s Designer Guys and Toronto firm The Design Agency; and Inger Bartlett, president and co-founder of Toronto’s Bartlett and Associates.

But it was the feature exhibits that were particularly strong this year. Crystal Clear, featuring Crystallized – Swarovski Elements in installations and prototypes designed by six Canadian firms, was a favorite among attendees. So too was 5×5: Five Designers, Five Inspired Spaces, each of which represented a different design discipline in a concept space. Green design is ever-growing in importance, as evidenced in Collaborations. Prototypes and DESIGNGENNEXT, the student exhibition, offered glimpses of future promise that always make the two areas my favourites of the show.

1–Felted Stool

From Prototypes, Anna Buechin’s felted stool is constructed of an angular white steel frame and a cushion formed of four wool felt pieces. The petal-like sections are shaped by pulling the fabric over a wooden mold with heat and steam, as in traditional millinery techniques. What would otherwise be wasted off-cuts are used to form decorative details.

2–Mobile Office

New firm bsq. landscape design studio wanted to create a booth that would promote sustainability and not be wasted after IDS, so they created a mobile support office. An ideal office for landscapers, it’s built from a recycled shipping container and boasts a green roof and roof-top patio, insulated walls, a bright birch veneer interior and solar power.

3–How Do You See The Street?

The Institute Without Boundaries, part of George Brown College’s School of Design, designed a booth based on an interactive street scene, highlighting different aspects of neighbourhoods, cities and streets. Visitors were invited to make a contribution to the scene by placing their own blocks into the wall, a metaphor for how essential a collaborative design process is to create better communities.

4–Pallet Ottoman

BCK Design’s belief that everyday objects can have strong graphic potential combined with green principles to create the Pallet Ottoman. Shown as part of the Prototypes exhibit, the piece is not intended for mass production, but will be individually manufactured for custom orders, allowing each piece to be carefully constructed from pallets with unique markings and textures.

5–Warp Lounge Chair

At Studio North, Atelier Jacob showed three new chair prototypes: Chapi Chapo 1, Chapi Chapo 2 and Warp Lounge Chair (shown). Warp is a chair manufactured from plastic that is perforated prior to being vacuum-formed over a mold. The varying distortions of the circular perforations create a unique design on each chair. The prototype was manufactured by U.B. Sings.


Vertebrae was shown as part of Collaborations, a series of exhibits in which three architectural firms were challenged to create a substantial floor-to-ceiling structure from a single material. Designed by Bregman+Hamann Architects, Vertebrae is made from a kit of Corian parts. The pieces are in a variety of whites, some of which are embedded with lights, to create a soft glow.


Ryerson’s School of Interior Design created a workstation to perfectly suit the life of a design student. NAPitat is constructed out of cardboard, a material that “epitomizes student life”; and simply slots several pieces together to create a workstation (complete with storage space) that allows the user to sleep and work in the same space.