This past In January, the Interior Design Show made a triumphant return the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Over four days, tens of thousands of visitors perused the aisles of the 175,000-square-foot space, to see what 300-plus exhibitors had to show. At the entrance, nestled between escalators, a pulsating video monolith by 64th and Queen provided a sense of excitement and anticipation.
This year’s Opening Night Party, kicking off the 13th annual IDS, doubled as a unique charitable fundraising campaign where attendees could get their hands on a one-of-a-kind creation by today’s most celebrated designers and architects. Participants – including Cecconi Simone, Karim Rashid, Johnson Chou Inc. and even CBC’s own Steven & Chris, were put to the challenge of redesigning and personalizing Vitra’s Panton Chair. Their efforts helped to raise more than $21,000 for Casey House, Canada’s first freestanding HIV/AIDS facility. After these pieces were scooped up in the auction, they remained on display for the duration of the show.
Another attention-grabber was the Sibling Revelry exhibit, a partnership of four design teams of Canadian siblings who transformed 600 square feet of space into their own unique statement of design. Upon first entering, visitors tiptoed through a garden of white pebble stones and columns of green foliage by Thien and My Ta Trung (Periphere, Montreal). Twins Jason and Lars Dressler (Brothers Dressler, Toronto) filled their space with their distinct touch of rustic wood and leather, with overlooking lights of the weaving Branches chandelier. The room of 1,000 paper cranes by David and Glenn Dixon (Toronto), inspired by a Japanese fable, was designed to be a space where wishes come true. The final space, by Theo and Sarah Richardson (New York/Toronto), was a play on the idea of reverse engineering where the rooms were created around the products drawing inspiration from either a particular product or colour.
There was no shortage of product designs on the floor, but it was the up-and-comers that really caught our eye this year. These new designers are rediscovering raw materials, minimizing their carbon footprint and designing products for the changing needs of interiors and people that inhabit them.
The 4.2 (pronounced “For2”) chair by designer Sia Zanjani of A6DS – After 6 Design Studio is perfect for small living spaces. This multifunctional chair is specifically designed to be shared by two people and also provide ample storage space. The chair neatly stores 15 wine bottles below the seat in three rows of five, has hanging room for eight wine glasses on either side of the backrest, and also space in between for magazines or other accessories. The 4.2 is made mainly out of birch plywood, with the seat of 100 percent wool felt. The finishes and colours can be customized by request. after6studio.com
2—Cast in concrete
Jean Willoughby’s concrete cabinet pushes the limits of the function of concrete in the world of design, freeing it from strictly industrial applications. The cabinet’s concrete frame appears to envelop the two wooden drawers in a juxtaposed, delicate fashion. Upon opening the drawers, the thickness of the concrete frame is actually wider than at first glance. The concrete carcass is created with concrete first being poured into a mould, allowed to harden and removed after two to three days. The drawers are made to fit and then installed. This 24-by-15-by-19.7-inch cabinet is a non-traditional design lover’s dream. jeanwilloughby.com
3—Touch of art
The Lucius set of drawers by Alain Bélanger is the newest of his series of art furniture. A piece that is definitely a unique focal point with a look of something out of a dream, Lucius 1st was presented at IDS ’11 as the first piece in a limited series of five. Despite its crafty appearance, the drawers are fully functional and equipped with a slow-motion closing system. The body is made up maple with basswood legs. The unit measures 41 by 22 by 17 inches. Lucius is made to order, allowing customers to choose their preferred wood and finish. alainbelanger.com
4—Getting giggy with it
Just as a musician has several gigs on one concert tour, the Gig seating system, known as “four-track furniture,” is actually four separate furniture pieces in one. Prepared for a future where urbanization and energy efficiency will ultimately create more compact interior spaces, designer Davide Tonizzo’s Gig is a chair, two ottomans, a chaise lounge and a bed. Moving the birch frame together or apart and sliding the lightweight foam cushions in or out of the frame make transitions from one furniture piece to another easy and fluid. While Gig is designed for small rooms, its multifunctional nature allows a room to be used in several ways. designd-online.com
The Tug of Chair by Alexandra Chacinski, from the Ontario College of Art & Design, blends the processes of human interaction with design. The concept of tension and the idea of two individuals engaged in a patent lawsuit over a design of a chair were quite literally brought to life in this design. The tugging of ropes from both ends of the chair frame is what transforms essentially pieces of wood into a piece of furniture. The chair is composed of seven pieces of 0.75-inch plywood intertwined with ropes. For her design, Chacinski won the Rado Switzerland Award for Young Design at IDS ‘11.
6—Racking ’em up
Wine racks are literally reaching new heights with Vinox Concept’s adjustable stainless steel wine poles. These 2-inch-diameter tubes affix to both floor and ceiling, holding by vertical pressure without the need of installation tools. There are two models available in two sizes: the Tornado spiral formation that holds 30 to 34 bottles depending on height, and the Traffic 90 degree formation that holds 42 bottles. Because of the unique adjustable attachment system, the poles can reach ceiling heights between 8 and 9½ feet and can be customized to reach upwards of 12 feet. The tubes can also be shortened for installation in basements or wine cellars. vinoxconcept.com
Etherma’s Lava Designs Infrared Glass Heating System is an energy-efficient, clean and revolutionary heating solution based on the principle of solar radiation – all wrapped up in a piece of art. The heat emitted is as natural as the warmth that comes from the sun or a wood-burning fire, and since the units do not provide air circulation there is low dust transport and no mold. The Lava comes in five standard colours, including mirror, and four other options of Lava Images in three different designs. Each can be outfitted with towel rails for the bathroom to create Lavabath, a solution for cold bathrooms. lavacanada.com
Etherma’s Lava Designs Infrared Glass Heating System is an energy-efficient, clean and revolutionary heating solution based on the principle of solar radiation – all wrapped up in a piece of art. The heat emitted is as natural as the warmth that comes from the sun or a wood-burning fire, and since the units do not provide air circulation there is low dust transport and no mold. The Lava comes in five standard colours, including mirror, and four other options of Lava Images in three different designs. Each can be outfitted with towel rails for the bathroom to create Lavabath, a solution for cold bathrooms. lava-designs.com
Noticing a hole in today’s design market for modern accent pillows, Nicole Tarasick dug deep into her Canadian roots and created two sizes of graphic pillows, imprinted with a distinctly Canadian mark. Coloured in earthy blends, the pillows come in a 20-by-20-inches square or 20-by-11-inches rectangle. They are made from locally sourced fabric, in both cotton and linen blends, and are filled with 100 percent feather insert. The prints are silk screened by hand, and all designs are printed with non-toxic acrylic pigments. Designs include Canadian Goose, Canada Map (shown) and the Toronto airport code, among others. nicoletarasick.com
Quite fitting that Tahir Mahmood’s new Chaand lamp translates to “moon” lamp, as it brings a warm comforting glow to any living space. Handmade by artisans in Mahmood’s studio in Lahore, Pakistan, the lamp’s body is made of Dalbergia Sissoo wood, also called Indian rosewood. The lacquered sections are made from sap-based resin and applied with palm leaves. The lamp measures 30 inches in height with a base diameter of 5½ inches. The materials and the construction process align with the sustainability of Mahmood’s previous designs. tahirmahmood.com