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Like you, there are many aspects of 2016 that I would rather forget, and also a lot of fallout I am not looking forward to dealing with (you probably know what I’m referring to). But at the same time, there was a lot of good to come out of that year, and for us at Canadian Interiors, one great example is the relationship we’ve forged with the Toronto Design Offsite Festival (TO DO), for whom we produced their festival guide.
As the editor of a design magazine, I travel quite a bit to other cities to investigate emerging trends in the world of design, which is manifested in many ways, from large-scale city building to small-scale furniture and décor products. One thing I noticed early on is that cities with successful design industries also typically have mature design sensibilities that extend beyond the product manufacturing sectors, and exhibit themselves in ways that generate a dialogue between professionals, students and the general public about the thought that design is an integral part of life. And one of the best pieces of evidence of this design maturity can be seen in cities that host “Design Weeks.”
Obvious cities like Paris, New York and Milan have robust, successful Design Weeks, but other second-tier cities such as Cologne, Valencia, Kortrijk, and many others also proudly host similar events that incorporate trade shows, exhibitions and conferences that attract design aficionados, makers, architects and thought leaders to present work, exchange ideas and showcase innovation in design. And thanks to the efforts of its organizing council, TO DO is doing exactly that for Toronto, and helping put it on the same map as these other design capitals.
What started as a grass-roots endeavour has exploded exponentially, no doubt because it has tapped into something that both Toronto’s denizens and the design industry had been waiting for – a platform for new and provocative design as well as an opportunity to share and explore perspectives and ideas in ways that engage more ordinary citizens beyond the cloistered academic bubbles or the elite print media’s obsession with capturing some zeitgeist within the architecture and design industries.
At street level, Toronto feels today like an exciting place to be. From designers’ studios to retail showrooms, restaurants, galleries and hotels it is clear that things are happening. Toronto is showing that it is ready to do more to position itself as a confident global city, tackling urban challenges and using design as a tool to do so, and TO DO is one of those efforts that are helping point the city toward a new era of maturity and accomplishment.