When IIDEX eyes are smiling

The month of September brings a host of design shows, including Toronto’s IIDEX/NeoCon Canada, the country’s most comprehensive expo and conference for the design, construction and management of the built environment. As well as highlighting new products from a host of exhibitors, this year’s IIDEX edition offers several new attractions.

Hospitality Canada — a collaboration between IIDEX and the Interior Designers of Canada (IDC) – is a brand-new show-within-a-show, featuring the latest products and services for interior designers, architects, hoteliers and facility managers specializing in the hospitality industry. A highlight is the launch of the premier enRoute Hotel Design Awards, celebrating the best Canadian-designed hotels around the world; it includes an exhibit as well as an awards ceremony.

Another first for IIDEX: the IDA (International Design Association) Awards ceremony will be held at IIDEX’s keynote stage for the first time ever. A bi-yearly event, the awards invite design students worldwide to create innovative solutions in furniture design and furniture making. Honoured this year will be four winners, two of whom are local talent. 

Also new this year is Chair Hockey, in support of Ronald McDonald House Toronto; originally conceived by Herman Miller, this is a hockey tournament with a twist. Facing off on ergonomic task chairs, in a special arena at the heart of the show, will be interior designers, architects, facility managers, engineers, and sales and A&D reps – with teams collecting points for meeting fundraising targets and getting the chance to play a celebrity team in a championship showdown. 

Returning this year is THINK:Material, one of IIDEX’s most popular features. The ultimate resource for design professionals to source new, creative and sustainable materials, it includes an exhibit of favourite materials from guest curators II BY IV Design Associates, the firm based in Toronto.

Always eagerly anticipated is IIDEX’s keynote speakers series. This year’s participants hail from Paris, Berlin, Atlanta Toronto and Montreal.

Delivering the Design keynote are Dominique Jakob and Brendan MacFarlane, the Parisian design duo who have firmly established themselves in the top tier of digitally driven architecture. Best known for the exuberant Orange Cube – a mixed-use building constructed among the once-dreary riverside warehouses of Lyon, France – the partners will present recent and past projects as seen from their perspective on the inside but understood as a part of a whole.

Delivering the Architecture keynote is Matthias Sauerbruch, the founding director of Berlin-based Sauerbruch Hutton Architecture, known internationally for its serious engagement with issues of sustainability combined with architecture of the highest order. Sauerbruch will show how the persistence of architects and designers to take on pioneering roles in sustainability is bringing us closer to answers we urgently need.

The Hospitality keynote takes the form of a conversation between Isadore Sharp, the founder of the luxury hotel empire Four Seasons Hotel and Resorts, headquartered in Toronto, and Howard Pharr, the president of architectural firm HBA/Hirsch Bedner Associates in Atlanta – moderated by Ilana Weitzman, editor-in-chief of enRoute, Air Canada’s award-winning in-flight magazine, published in Montreal. Together they’ll explore how great hotel design can respond to the unique demands of the modern-day traveller.

All this plus an official IIDEX bookstore, in collaboration with Swipe Books; a display by the Ontario Association of Landscape Architects; the annual ARIDO Awards – and much more.

Held at Toronto’s Direct Energy Centre, Exhibition Place, the IIDEX NeoCon expo runs Sept. 22 and 23, while the conference runs from Sept 22 to 24.  For more info, visit iidexneocon.com.