Picnic Design continued to explore “sharing” at IDS22

House or condo? It is the perpetual Torontonian question. Then the pandemic hits. Our sense of isolation is brought into sharp focus while the housing issue grows to a crescendo.

Although co-living is not the magic bullet, it is a housing option that Picnic Design has been exploring even before the pandemic, notably in their installation at IDS2020. Visitors then were presented with prototypes of how a typical house in downtown Toronto can be transformed and were asked to vote on spaces they dared to share in a co-living setting.

At IDS2022, Picnic Design followed up with a Dare to Share Lounge, which infused the typical lounge with a co-living experience. Visitors experienced a three dimensional full-scale built-out of co-living spaces that garnered the most “yes’s” in the vote. Unsurprisingly, bedrooms and bathrooms were not on the list. Picnic Design put together six spaces that were colour coordinated with the furniture. Surrounded by yellow floor and yellow wall, the yellow kitchen, complete with kitchen island, was used as the cash bar. People mingled in the kitchen much like at a dinner party. Beside the kitchen was a blue dining room with a custom-built blue stained wood banquette and blue lounge chairs. Groups would sit and hang out around the table but it was also used as an occasional workspace.

A pink living room with pink chaise lounges and a pink credenza functioned as the centre space that ties it all together, where visitors could relax with a glass of wine in hand.  The “TV” was actually an opening in the wall, allowing visitors to watch “reality TV” by catching a glimpse of the action in the next room. Against the wall, the orange red library was set up for more individual time, offering a bit of respite from the show. The literature of various sponsors as well as design magazines were displayed on the orange shelves for those who wanted more information. Beside the main hallway was the grey rec room with an oversized tic-tac-toe game built into the floor pattern (a big hit with the younger age groups), and adjacent a green “backyard” with soft artificial grass beneath the feet and the namesake picnic table from Picnic Design.

The spaces were complemented by co-living stories. To get people intrigued, a bunch of oversize conversation bubbles were displayed at eye level, with exclamatory statements like “Thanks for sharing your books! I have never seen my son so studious” or “Yeah, I can’t believe we own property in downtown TO” – bits and pieces of conversations taken from a comic book that Picnic Design created to tell the stories that can take place in a co-living setting. The stories – colour coordinated with the spaces in the lounge – surround a family of four with a grandmother and a younger couple, spanning generations and showcasing the benefits from each person’s perspective.

Photography by Scott Norsworthy