THE BLOG

Toronto's Alternative Design Week: TO DO Festival

01/21/2014 11:58 EST | Updated 03/23/2014 05:59 EDT

As a freelancer and blogger, I've occasionally had the pleasure of writing about some of the many amazing young designers in Toronto. From a bespoke cobbler who apprenticed with a Florentine shoemaker to a group of custom guitar makers and an artist who works with neon, not to mention exciting cross disciplinary art/design hybrid collectives I can tell you that our design scene has really taken off in the past decade.

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Ian Devenney, Decomposition Foxwedge desk, at Digital Promises. Image courtesy Ian Devenney.

The TO DO Festival, (Toronto Design Offsite), is now in its fourth year. Taking place during Toronto Design Week, from January 20 - 26, it brings together the best of the city's smaller design shows through maps, an iphone app, a website and a great preview blog that allows you to see at a glance what's on and to get out there and experience it all. This year's festival has some very special things in store.

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Block Bench by Scott Eunson, at Digital Promises. Image courtesy Ian Devenney.

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The Guilloche Cuff by Gregory Phillips and Jesse C. Jackson, at Digital Promises. Image courtesy Ian Devenney.

While IDS is Design Week's main player, billing itself 'Canada's Design Fair' (TO DO has got a booth there: #403) the TO DO Fest features the other, alternative venues showcasing local design that are arguably more exciting (if smaller-scale) where you can make wonderful discoveries.

A special mention, first for Come Up To My Room, Toronto's original 'alternative design fair' that is in its 11th year at the Gladstone Hotel. I've blogged about it in past years, and you can see those images HERE and HERE. It's always worth going, to see the amazingly creative installations and products up on the 2nd floor. Don't miss it!

Here are five of my must-see exhibitions at the TO DO Festival this year, although there are many more!

1. DIGITAL PROMISES is an exhibition organized by talented designer Ian Devenney featuring work by sixteen designers exploring digitally-mediated production including works using 3-D printing, CNC, laser cutting, CAD, and parametric modelling.

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Rob Southcott's Laser Cut Light, at Digital Promises. Image courtesy Ian Devenney.

2. PATCHWORKED IN CANADA is an exhibition of 1200 Portuguese tiles that have been quartered and 'patchworked' into a wall installation for TO DO. Backed with a magnet and QR code, they will then and released onto the city's metal surfaces for finders to come across and collectors to seek out. Photos of the whole process and info on the creative studio behind the project, Dear Human, HERE.

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A prepatory shot of the tile installation by Dear Human, at Patchworked in Canada. Image courtesy TO DO Festival.

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Another prepatory shot of the installation. Image courtesy TO DO Festival.

3. ACCUMULATION is an installation by the excellent artist Christine Kim, who does amazing things by cutting paper. This installation is an investigation of what a line can do when it is folded, cut, curved, and gathered. Check out her website and other work HERE.

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An image of a paper cut orb, by Christine Kim. Image courtesy TO DO Festival.

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More beautiful paper cuts by Christine Kim. Image courtesy TO DO Festival.

4. PEACE & PLENTY is a furniture exhibition "designed for contemporary living" by TREATY, a firm founded by Vincent Joseph Monastero and Matthew Alexander Cherkas. Smart, art-y pieces include Behind the Veil, a brilliant mirror design that "challenges us to face our vanity" and Tilted, a cheeky, purposefully wobbly lamp.

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Behind the Veil, a mirror by TREATY at Peace & Plenty. Image: Babak Khairi.

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A close up of Behind the Veil. Image: Babak Khairi.

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A Tilted lamp by TREATY, at Peace & Plenty. Image: Babak Khairi

5. STUDIOUS, at Harbourfont centre, showcases the works of eight talented designers including textile artist Lizz Aston, crochet artist Marianne Burlew, metal artist Jay Joo, jeweller K. Claire MacDonald and thread installation artist Amanda McCavour.

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A piece by Lizz Aston, part of Studious at Harbourfront centre. Image courtesy TO DO Festival.

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Jewellery by Jay Joo, part of Studious at Harbourfront centre. Image courtesy TO DO Festival.

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Jewellery by Patrycja Zwierzynska, part of Studious at Harbourfront centre. Image courtesy TO DO Festival.

See the full festival schedule HERE.