Inside IDS 17

Every January, 53,200 seekers of style that inspires descend for four days on Toronto’s Interior Design Show. This year’s exhibition, held as usual at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, offered an intriguing blend of revisited classics, current trends, and fresh ideas from emerging designers.

Seats with Legs

In the Prototype Section, Peruvian fashion and furniture designer Elfer Castro displayed his kicky S-3 stool that looked like half a daddy-long-legs scuttling across the floor. Seating also took centre-stage in the Ontario Wood exhibit. Of note was Vienna, Ont.’s Martin C. Vendryes Woodworking’s Modern Ming Chair with its strong Asian/ Canadian aesthetic; and the Japanese/Scandinavian influence visible in Torontonian Jake Whillans’s Olo bench and Linea armchairs and stools, all crafted in ghostly white oak.

Loll Designs, from Duluth, Minnesota, presented its Lollygagger Line of outdoor chairs, tables, ottomans, loungers, and picnic tables and benches made entirely from recycled milk jugs. These high-density polyurethane pieces are comfortable, easy to clean and weatherproof for year-round use. They are also quite heavy – a plus if you’re looking for furniture that won’t blow into your pool or off your dock. One surprising factoid: over 450 milk jugs go into making just a single Adirondack Chair. Here’s another: the furniture itself is completely recyclable, giving it the enviable credit of sustainable zero-waste manufacturing.

It is – but it isn’t

Several displays reminded me forcibly of Rene Magritte’s famous surrealist painting of a pipe, under which he wrote: Ceci n’est pas une pipe (“This is not a pipe”). In other words it was a painted representation of an object, not the real thing. In the same vein, Montréal’ s MuralUnique showcased pre-pasted wall murals that you had to touch to discover they were not the distressed brick, riveted metal or poured concrete they appeared to be, but rather high-resolution photos printed on polyester-reinforced paper.

Toronto-based iNTILE WORKS specializes in PVC wall tiles that look, feel and mount exactly like porcelain, yet are extremely lightweight and virtually unbreakable. They, too, can be digitally printed with any picture to create unique wall art for home and, pending imminent flame-and-smoke rating approval, commercial use.

TORLYS Smart Floors combines high-def digitally printed hardwood laminates with the comfort and acoustic benefits of cork in its new CorkWood, CorkWood Designer and CorkWood Elite lines. Durable, FSC-certified, microbe-resistant, and boasting a high décor count, TORLYS’s planks and tiles come with four-sided joins for easy installation, replacement or reformation.

Fire in the Hole

Town & Country Luxury Fireplaces, based in Duncan, B.C., presented its new Architectural Series of elegant gas-flamers that came in a variety of long and low styles, from single cool-touch glass panels to see-through panes wrapping around three sides of the firebox. The non-combustible finish, right down to the glass and power-vent airflow system, are designed to keep things heat-safe, so no worries about damage to overhead artwork or TV screens. But for sheer drama nothing can top the HeliFire 360, a towering jet of flame encased in one’ s choice of single-sided or see-through vertical box. It’s not so much a fireplace as a live art installation.

Bathroom Beaut

The stand-alone tub represents the focal point of many a bathroom. However, what separated Repentigny, Que.’s Zitta collection from the rest – besides the sexy curves and sturdy all-acrylic construction – was a single tub whose exterior was decorated in hand-painted, kiln-dried “pearlized plaster.” The process, a unique specialty of the company, turns ordinary white tubs into dynamic bathing beauties.

Northern Lights

Gweilo architectural lights, designed by Toronto’s Partisans and manufactured in Ontario, have been around for a couple of years so they are not precisely new. But the collection, now available in sizes ranged from tabletop accent pieces to large room dividers, is really so revolutionary that it deserves a prolonged close-up. Here is light in semi-solid form; sculptural, airy folds of illuminated acrylic that bend and twist like light rays themselves. Optical-grade sheets of transparent plastic are laser-etched in a mini-grid, heated to just under 400◦C, and manipulated by hand into unique, draped shapes. An LED strip at one edge sends light shooting through each tiny groove, amplifying its effect into a cascading curtain of radiance. Cool to the touch and amazingly cool to look at, the lights are dimmable and likely available soon in RGB colour change technology.

In the Studio North section of the show, Beauparlant launched of a series of wall-mounted shelves designed to be adaptable and flexible to a variety of environments. Born out of a solution for a custom kitchen in a private residence, the wireframe shelves were used to improve the visual sightlines of the space. The 12x12mm frame profile could be finished in a wide range of colours and the wood shelves fabricated from laminate oak are oil finished for a natural texture and colour.

A Tribe Called Jamie

Surfaces manufacturer Caesarstone unveiled the first instalment of a year-long collaboration with designer Jaime Hayon at the Interior Design Show in Toronto. Called Stone Age Folk, seven new pieces including “face cabinets,”“bird-like dining tables” and smaller coffee tables featuring animated characters alongside a mirror mask were all built using Caesarstone quartz in traditional stone marquetry.

Welcome to the Big Smoke

For the first time, Montréal-based Mobilia participated in IDS, and brought its Roaring Twenties collection, designed in collaboration with Janette Ewen. Soft velvets, ultra-chic fabrics and geometric patterns dominate this collection and informed a booth design –shot through with black and gold – that won an award at the show.

Slovenian designer Nika Zupanc’s beautiful Collection III — with items such as the Stay Armchair that make clear allusions 1950s ‘Golden Age’ of Hollywood, Art Deco furniture and modernist influencers – dominated the booth of European brand Sé.