Sights for sore eyes

I “oohed” and “ahed” my way through September and October, attending three prominent trade shows: Maison & Objet in Paris, IIDEX/NeoCon Canada in Toronto, and Orgatec in Cologne. Oh, what these eyes have seen: at M&O, an indestructible shade umbrella from the Netherlands, amid outstanding outdoor furniture from all across Europe and from the Philippines (page 25); at IIDEX, free-floating flooring that entirely eliminates the need for adhesives (page 11), along with a kitchen where appliances communicate with each other and a family of LED lighting with the clarity of daylight (page 14); and, at Orgatec, no less than 11 electrifying introductions from Vitra, the Swiss innovator of upscale office furniture (my Orgatec report is set to run in our March/April 2011 issue).

If I’d had it my way, Venice and Vancouver would’ve been on my itinerary as well, where I could’ve seen two modern Canadian marvels for myself: at the Venice Biennale in Architecture, Hylozoic Ground, an installation by Toronto architect and University of Waterloo professor Philip Beesley (“It’s alive!” on page 20); and, on Vancouver’s waterfront, The Plastic Dining Room, the brainchild of Shannon Ronalds, co-founder and CEO of the School of Fish Foundation, a non-profit organization working to create a positive change in the seafood industry (“Food and water,” page 32).

The former — a kind of forest made from thousands of digitally fabricated components — transformed the Canadian Pavilion at the 12th Venice Biennale into, in writer Helena Grdadolnik’s evocative words, “a delicate architectural Frankenstein with a mind of its own.” The culmination of a decade-long process of research and development, “Hylozoic Ground didn’t win the coveted Golden Lion for Canada,” Grdadolnik reports, “but it was definitely a contender and the talk of the town.”

The latter — a floating dining room made from 1,700 recycled two-litre plastic bottles, moored at Vancouver’s False Creek Yacht Club — served as a venue where chefs could learn about sustainable seafood. As associate editor Janet Collins reports, the world’s first Plastic Dining Room garnered widespread attention and will go on tour — appearing in Aukland, New Zealand, t his winter, then London, “once the weather there is better suited for an open-sided floating dining room.”

With any luck, I may one day a) board the Plastic Dining Room, and b) lose myself in Hylozoic Ground. CI

Michael Totzke [email protected]