Toronto Design Week Preview: Do West Design
by sabine7 / December 9, 2010

A new event for the 2011 edition of Toronto Design Week is Do West Design, an initiative spearheaded by the Do West Trinity Bellwoods Business Improvement Area.

Works by Toronto designers, such as the Mountain Coatrack by Bettie Cott (above), will be exhibited in a variety of local businesses from January 27 - 30, 2011. Marie Collier is the Program Coordinator of the organizing committee that is also made up of Arounna Kounnoraj (Bookhou), Kia Waese and Jerry Waese (R.A.D), Josh Glover (Sleeping Giant Gallery) and Julie Nicholson and Shaun Moore (MADE). We asked them for a little insight into this new event...


Do West Design Program Coordinator Marie Collier

What is the theme to the show you are curating this year during Toronto Design Week?

This is the first year of what we intend to be a yearly event. Do West Design is the embracing initiative which celebrates a diversity of contemporary designers and their approaches by literally bringing their works to the street. The street in this case being our Business Area, with the works presented in a variety of venues along our stretch of downtown Toronto. Simultaneously it highlights the diversity of our streetscape and community and is a reminder of the value of creative initiatives and the resonance of design in our daily lives. There is definitely opportunity to explore specific themes with future years.


Concrete Cabinet by Jean Willoughby

How did you put together the group of designers featured in your show?

A call for submissions was published through our site and as this will be its inaugural year without a precedent, we also relied on our networking abilities to disseminate information through business and personal contacts. This will certainly grow into a wider call by our second year.


BaconSavers by Jill Allan

How does the "exhibition space" contribute to the show?

Essentially our whole street becomes the "gallery", with the design projects displayed in storefronts/walkups/windows, cafes, galleries, bars, restaurants, boutiques, showrooms and even a lumberyard! Each space contributes collaboratively to the overall exhibition. The designers will be matched with venues based on the suitability of the space to their project. In many cases the works on display will blend in seamlessly with their exhibition environment in their form and function and in others, they will offer an engaging juxtaposition with the venue's design and daily function. This interaction is an essence of the show.


Iceberg Table by Periphere

What are your views on the current state of Toronto's design industry and community?

Marie Collier, our program coordinator has recently returned from a year in London (UK). Her thoughts, "It is great to return and be reminded that Toronto has a distinct and fairly cohesive design community. The relatively small size of the city, and therefore the close proximity of studios, exhibition spaces, and schools, and Toronto's position as an arts and cultural centre within the country, fosters this cohesion as designers are able to see each other's work, collaborate on projects together and support and encourage one another with the intent of building the community as a whole."

Over the last 30 years we have moved more into design and creation from a manufacturing base, and I think we, as a city, are still seeking a balance in that - having retail strips that celebrate the design community enhances our ability to feel the pulse of this vital concept.


How to Eat Meat Vase by Katherine Morley

What sort of design trends have you noticed in the past year?

Themes that echo and honor infrastructural materials, inside out reversals and revivification through convergence and simplification.

Also a lot of references to traditional craft techniques such as crochet and quilting, an emphasis on the handmade, and an interest in the graphic geometric patterns and bright colours of folk textiles from many different cultures. In many cases these references are expressed through high-tech or unexpected materials and fabrication techniques and in others, they are an outright return to traditional methods and motifs. The trend towards reclaimed and recycled materials continues as do cheeky references to Canadiana.


Stool by Amy Keeler

Do you think there is room for Toronto's Design Week to grow?

There is absolutely room for Toronto Design Week to grow! We are lucky to have a talented and close knit design community that continues to engage enthusiastically in events such as these. The more opportunities we create to exhibit local design, the more local talent will develop and rise to the occasion.

Toronto's design week should grow in step with the city's evolving sense of integrity and identity. With the shifting turbulence of global economies, design week could provide a positive platform from which to display not only exceptional creativity, but the will to problem solve and create new solutions.

Do West Design is one of the many offsite shows that are part of the inaugural Toronto Design Offsite, aka TODO List.


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