DesignTO festival promises to bring together art and design

DesignTO, formerly the Toronto Design Offsite Festival, is where art and design meet from January 18-27, 2019. Twenty times bigger than its first year, the 2019 DesignTO Festival brings you over 100 events filled with immersive installations, innovative exhibitions, engaging talks, and more art and design than ever before. The Festival will also see an increased number of Toronto neighbourhoods activated with programming, extending its reach north to Yonge + St. Clair and east to King East Design District.

Jeremy Vandermeij, Executive Director describes the festival as, “a play space where design and art meet.”DesignTO

The festival has found its strength by pushing boundaries. Design is about furniture and home accessories, but the word also embraces a way of thinking, including ways to address social and political themes that might not always be comfortable to discuss. This year, one exhibition will explore the intricacies of queer online intimacy; another reflects on mortality, ‘DIYing for Free’, is a project that invites visitors to try out a do-it-yourself cardboard coffin to help normalize the idea of a sustainable, affordable burial. No topic is too small or taboo.DesignTO

In addition to the over 100 independent projects taking place at the 2019 Festival, DesignTO will have more self-curated projects than last year. In collaboration with a number of partners, the DesignTO Festival will see the return of events such as the DesignTO Launch Party, the fourth annual DesignTO Symposium: Unlocking the Future of Work, the exhibition, Surface Tension, and the prototype exhibition Work/Life produced in collaboration with Canadian product design company Umbra. New programming will include DesignTO’s first graphic design exhibition Design Unseen, the DesignTO Guided Bus Tours led by local design and art experts, a number of DesignTO Talks with designers including Tiffany Pratt, internationally renowned London-based design duo Studio Swine, and so much more!DesignTO

The festival transforms Toronto into a hub for creativity, taking art and design out of the studio and into the urban sphere, bringing people together to celebrate contemporary culture. DesignTO provides opportunities for emerging talent and engages the community with exceptional and accessible public programming. Brave the cold and step outside.

DesignTO Projects

DesignTO Launch Party —Kick off the new 10-day Festival at the DesignTO Launch Party in the historic St. Lawrence Hall in Old Toronto! Mix and mingle with Toronto’s creative community to the backdrop of a site-specific installation by studio rat, while sipping on beverages from Ace Hill and Trail Estate, and enjoying treats from the Tempered Room. Don’t forget to bring your dancing shoes; DJ Sigourney Beaver and DJ Joe Blow will be playing all the songs that will get your body moving! As a fundraiser for the non-profit Festival, all proceeds will go to help achieve the DesignTO mission to advance design culture in Canada.

Work/Life — ‘Work/Life’ showcases new prototypes from nine Canadian designers as they respond to making small spaces more livable and efficient. The exhibition is organized by DesignTO in partnership with Umbra, and features the work of Allstudio, Andrew Ferrier, Rachelle Bugeaud, Dear Human, Claire Hamilton Studio, Half-day, mpgmb, Sisley Leung, and Studio Knowhow.

Design Unseen — ‘Design Unseen’ will take you through the work of six creatives working in the field of graphic design, exposing the often unseen creative process. Go behind the curtain and explore the journey that precedes the end result. This exhibition curated by DesignTO in collaboration with Lauren Wickware, featuring Estefani Campana, Department of Unusual Certainties, Chris Lange, Christopher Lee, Gilbert Li, and Jay Wilson.

Surface Tension — ‘Surface Tension’ showcases the work of a dozen local and international designers and artists. Exploring the theme of water from material, aesthetic, cultural, political, poetic, and ecological perspectives, ‘Surface Tension’ seeks to engage a range of topics integral to thinking about water in its broadest senses. Featuring work by Karen Miranda Abel, Atelier Mey, Douglas Coupland, Julie Gladstone, Robert Hengeveld, Colin Hill, Lisa Hirmer, Eva Kolcze, Lisa Myers, Polymetis, Eli Schwanz, and Unit Lab.

DesignTO Tours: Exploring Art at Yonge + St. Clair  — Join DesignTO as they explore three exciting installations in the Yonge + St. Clair neighbourhood. This tour features an intimate talk with installation creators: Stein Wang and Topher Kong of the cheeky design studio Hi Thanks Bye, public installation artists Mitchell Chan and Brad Hindson of Studio F Minus, and Steven Paynter and Gillian Walczaka from the global architecture firm Gensler.

DesignTO Talks: Tiffany Pratt — Join DesignTO and stylist, designer, and HGTV host Tiffany Pratt at ‘DesignTO Talks: Tiffany Pratt’, as she speaks about her vibrant design philosophy, experience making a lasting creative business, personal brand, and media presence. Past projects include interior design for Café CanCan and Piano Piano, a collaboration with CXBO Chocolates, and many more.

DesignTO Tours: Campari Office — Get an exclusive peek into Campari Canada’s unique Palm Springs-meets-Italian Futurist office space in Liberty Village, designed by Toronto firm I-V. Campari Canada’s Managing Director Massimo Mottura and Azure Magazine’s Executive Editor Elizabeth Pagliacolo join DesignTO on this tour of the company’s bold Canadian headquarters.

DesignTO Symposium: Unlocking the Future of Work — What role will humans play in the future of work? DesignTO’s fourth annual symposium brings 10 multidisciplinary experts into one room for an inspiring discussion on the Future of Work, and where humans fit in this future. This year’s event will feature five thematic sessions on topics such as meaningful work, inclusion and diversity, work space, and economic systems and ethics.

The Future of Work(ers) — Discover how Canada’s corporations are fundamentally changing the employee experience to adapt to the Future of Workers. The event will explore topics like AI and digital engagement, organizational design, and human-centered design over two panels featuring leaders from Brookfield, Element AI, Genesys, MaRS Enterprise, and Microsoft Canada, and moderated by The Moment. Find out how these organizations are building skills, knowledge, and designing culture.

Ideas Forum: Watershed to Waterfront — The ‘Ideas Forum: Watershed to Waterfront’ features fast-paced and fun presentations by artists and designers exploring the theme of water from material, aesthetic, cultural, political, poetic, and ecological perspectives. Hear fresh perspectives from surfer Antonio Lennert, architect Aziza Chaouni, DTAH, IBI Group artist Lisa Hirmer, public art duo Polymetis, The Bentway’s Ilana Altman, and photographer Victoria Piersig.

DesignTO Talks: Studio Swine —In connection with the exhibition ‘Surface Tension’, ‘DesignTO Talks: Studio Swine’ will explore the work of Alexander Groves and Azusa Murakami of the internationally acclaimed Studio Swine as they discuss their work using water, demonstrating how combining water conservation with art engages the public with water scarcity and creates a connection to something commonly overlooked.

DesignTO Talks: Uncovering Canadian Design — ‘DesignTO Talks: Uncovering Canadian Design’ will uncover the process involved in designing and making modern furniture and home décor, with a focus on Canadian design. Moderated by EQ3 Creative Director Thom Fougere, he and panelists Christian Lo of ANONY, Simon Johns, Jamie Wolfond of Good Thing, and Alisa Wronski will share their personal design pedagogies, examine successes and failures, and provide insight into their methods as contemporary Canadian designers.

TO DO or Die Party — It might be cold out there, but things are about to get real steamy! Join us at The Garrison for DesignTO’s annual inclusive dance party: TO DO or Die. Dance the night away to the beats of DJs Joe Blow and Miss Fluffy Soufflé. Hot or Cold, Sit or Dance, Laugh or Cry, TO DO or DIE.

DesignTO Tours: Deloitte — Join DesignTO for ‘DesignTO Tours: Deloitte’ and explore Deloitte’s reimagined national headquarters where they are redefining how employees and clients work by using design and technology to enhance engagement, productivity, and inclusion.

DesignTO Guided Bus Tours — Join DesignTO Saturday and Sunday afternoons of Festival Week for ‘DesignTO Guided Bus Tours’ led by local experts: arts entertainer Kaleb Robertson (Jan 19), OCAD U’s Dean of Design Dori Tunstall (Jan 20), journalist Alex Bozikovic (Jan 26), and innovation designer Heather Daam-Rossi (Jan 27). Each guide brings their unique insight and expertise to their tour, with special stops selected by the guide.