22nd Best of Canada

As this year’s project and product winners demonstrate, there is no shortage of domestic talent propelling the best design this country has to offer.

When Paul Simon wrote the lyrics “I was 21 years when I wrote this song / I’m 22 now, but I won’t be for long / Time hurries on” in his elegiac yet catchy 1966 song Leaves That Are Green, he may well had been predicting the life of Canadian Interiors’ Best of Canada Design Competition, the country’s only design competition to focus on interior design projects and products without regard to size, budget or location. It feels like we just finished celebrating last year’s coming-of-age anniversary when we had to open the doors again for our 22nd iteration. As always, we welcomed submissions from interior designers, architects, interior architects, decorators, and crafts persons, and once again yielded an impressive crop of entrants.

The two categories of Projects and Products require distinct judging exercises, which were held on separate days, both at the Teknion Toronto Collaboration Hub and with Teknion’s support. A stellar group of designers stepped up to tackle the daunting task of reviewing the submissions and selecting this year’s cream of the crop. For Projects we recruited: Danny SC Tseng, co-founder and architect, Syllable; Valerie Gow, partner, Gow Hastings Architects; George Foussias, senior associate, design director, Quadrangle; and Annie Bergeron, design director and principal, Gensler.

Projects judges (l to r):
• Annie Bergeron
• George Foussias
• Danny SC Tseng
• Valerie Gow

On the Products side, three judges put their expertise to work analyzing material from an impressive list of candidates: Lisa Santana, co-founder, UnitFive Design; Deborah Wang, artistic director, DesignTO; and Stefan T. Sybydlo, principal, Bulthaup Toronto Inc.

Products judges (l to r):
• Lisa Santana
• Deborah Wang
• Stefan T. Sybydlo

 Ultimately, a total of 33 winners were chosen, which include three Products and 30 Projects representing a cross-Canada spectrum. When it came time to select the Project of the Year, the judges discussed and debated at length until a unanimous choice became clear: Biscotteria Forno Cultura, an artisanal bakery dedicated to pour-over coffee and biscotti in Toronto’s fast-paced Union Station. “This project embodies all aspects of interior design: a defined aesthetic, a delicate treatment of details and the right balance of light, texture and proportion to deliver a clear vision. The result is a well-balanced design statement that does not overpower the artisanal food, which is the main showcase of this retail store,” enthused Foussias. “As interior designers, our work often inhabits quirky architectural spaces, but that’s how the biscotti crumbles. This project represents the simplicity we strive to achieve, creating beauty from the essential. This is the best way that form follows function,” added Bergeron.

The Best of Canada Awards also continues to celebrate the exceptional work of Canada’s product designers. With the Judges’ Pick, one of the Products category winners got the nod for a trip package to attend Maison+Objet Paris as a VIP in January, 2020, thanks to the ongoing generous sponsorship of Maison+Objet. This honour goes to MIZA Architects for their Cross Laminated Table. “As someone who builds with my hands, I gravitated towards this table. I appreciate the technology and craft aspects, and the use of waste lumber,” said Santana. “We were informed of the numerous rounds of experimentation that went into making the legs sturdy enough to support the weight of the tabletop in a piece that is stable, handsome, clean. Simple-looking design takes much work. This is a shining example.”

Congratulations to all 33 winners!