As is always the case, we liked a lot of what we saw at the annual Interior Design Show (IDS). Held in January at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, the exhibition boasted the latest in home décor and materials, intriguing showcases, plus a plethora of guest speakers. Here’s a sampling of items that caught our eye.
This is Huge
Sometimes trends are writ large; at other times, they can be small but telling. At first glance, the concept kitchen created by Toronto’s Burdifilek for Aya Kitchen’s Avani line amazed with its sheer size and magnificence. The bi-level cooking island and cantilevered eating area stretched a full 16 feet. Adorned in bevelled-edge, white marble veneer, it featured an integrated sink as well as gas burners set directly onto the stone. Flanked by an open shelving unit and sleek closed cupboards pushing up to an imaginary 12-foot ceiling, this kitchen appeared the perfect match for any display of culinary artistry. But it seemed that we hadn’t even scratched the surface. Those tall cupboards were covered in Fenix brand Nano Tech Matt (NTM), a laminate proven in Europe over the past three years and new to North America last year. Anti-bacterial, heat- and fingerprint-resistant, this material is capable of erasing surface scratches on an atomic and molecular level. The self-healing process occurs within 24 hours if the material is left to its own devices, or nearly instantaneously if it is exposed to heat, say, from an iron or hair-dryer. We’ve heard good things come in small packages – but atom-sized?
Just when it feels as if everything that can possibly be done to bathrooms has been done, along comes Italy’s Nespoli e Novara and its whimsical wooden washstand built like a horse. Sold in North America through Graff Faucets, Milwaukee, the Dressage stand consists of a freestanding wooden beam with twin crossed legs at either end made in solid tulip poplar or walnut. Available in either 40-inch and 62-inch lengths, this low-profile unit can be customized with one’s choice of sinks, trays, swivel mirrors and storage cabinets – all carried on its back like riders and their equipage. A charming blend of style, function, and just plain fun.
A shout-out to IDS for its recent addition of Designboom Mart, a sales showcase for young Canadian designers who, like all artists, deserve better recognition and remuneration for their efforts. We’d like to single out Carineh Babayan, of Toronto’s CB1969, for her take on diffused-light lampshades. Looking like objects crafted by an extremely clever summer camper, each shade is cut from stiff paper or thin walnut veneer. Their whip-stitched tops and slashed, pop-out sides that allow for patterned diffusion push these modest lampshades into the décor limelight.
The Wood Standard
A little old-fashioned wooden warmth can do so much for modern interiors, a fact not lost on IDS exhibitors and visitors. This year’s trend in wood, according to most of the show’s furnishing displays, is walnut. From New York State’s Miles & May comes a pair of handsome cabinets. The A2-5 Drawer boasts a natural walnut exterior with ghosted walnut fronts and offset matte-black aluminum hardware. The Haven Dresser features walnut drawers with decorative visible box-joins and low-profile aluminum pulls, embraced by a steel shell in white, black, or whatever colour you want to choose.
Toronto’s Tahir Mahmood Design offers the shapely Bani Thani Dresser, again in walnut. This dainty, tapered case of drawers with legs, out-to-there topped by an ovoid mirror, would easily fit into any corner of one of today’s tiny urban condos. Oliver Drake, principal of Drake Wood Design, out of Wakefield, Que., painted his Crab-legged Console in a high-glass hue he terms “embarrassed tomato,” but it also shows hand-hewn walnut legs and cheeky off-centre handles.
Speaking of small spaces, we like the way Addition modular tables and planters by Texas’s Garman Furniture are capable of nestling into even the most restricted living room or balcony, providing both a functional and contemplative air. Each low table is shaped like a plus sign, allowing it to be co-joined in a variety of configurations. The bases are made from copper plate or powder-coated steel in any colour; the interchangeable magnetized table tops come in walnut, cork, resin composite and white marble, among other materials. For outdoor use, durable Ipe wood and teak are recommended.
A highlight of any IDS is viewing the latest carpets from German genius Jan Kath. This year is special, however, owing to the acclaimed designer striking out on his own in Canada, partnering with Vancouver representative Jenni Finlay. And this year’s most desirable Kath carpet? Kudos to his Artwork 8 Boro 11 rug, in which snippets of cream-coloured Damascene patterning partially overlay a Japanese-style patchwork in muted grey-brown. One might well hesitate to step on such a symphony of restrained, painterly elegance.
Fig40 partnered with GRIP Metal to develop a collection of furniture pieces, called Perplex, which includes a 14’ concrete bench as well as concrete stools, tables and shelving units. Made using a new manufacturing methodology of a consistently shaped field of hooks formed onto ultra-thin gauge metal forms. Like a metallic Velcro, it can be pressed, moulded, or cast to create a bond that is mechanical and continuous, strengthening hundreds of times per inch.