Toronto Design Week Preview: Come Up To My Room
by sabine7 / December 15, 2010

Come Up To My Room has been one of the anchor events of Toronto Design Week for eight years and the exciting aspect to it is that visitors just never know into what sort of room they will walk. A series of site-specific installations by a variety of artists and designers takes over a floor of rooms in the Gladstone Hotel. Collectives form and collaborations take place; the results are representative of a Toronto lively arts scene and a supportive venue that really cares. This year Jeremy Vandermeij and Deborah Wang are the curators of CUTMR, so we asked Deborah for her take on upcoming events.

(Above: Xiaojing Yan's Live in a Bubble sculpture)


Jeremy Vandermeij & Deborah Wang, curators of Come Up To My Room

What surprises are in store for us this year at Come Up To My Room?

As always, CUTMR is a surprise because no one really knows what's happening in the rooms, but some secrets have slipped. The room participants in particular are really trying to transform the viewers' experience. We are eagerly anticipating lots of kinetic and interactive pieces, as well as truly ambitious projects.


Nikolai Roerich Chair by Nick Savage

Who are some of the artists who will be filling the rooms of the Gladstone Hotel? Have any unusual collectives formed?

We have some really excellent artists who will be doing room installations: Amanda McCavour, Xiaojing Yan and Derek Liddington. These artists have strong practices, and will be exploring the three-dimensionality of their work, while challenging themselves with the context of the hotel and the show itself. And of course Bruno Billio, the hotel's artist in residence, will be creating a work within his living space.

Most of this year's collectives are first time collaborations. They are artists and designers who have similar practices and/or concerns, and have taken CUTMR as an opportunity to work together to produce something really unexpected. We use two key words to hone in on the focus of CUTMR: immersive and spatial. The participants are sincerely taking up this challenge.


Nikolai Roerich Chair by Nick Savage

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

What is Toronto's design industry and community? I think this is the question I wrestle with. Design is such a broad word, and encompasses so many disciplines. At OCAD alone, for example, there are six departments in the faculty of design, and that doesn't even include architecture. So I think while designers have been working in multi- and inter-disciplinary ways for so long (it's almost intrinsic for us to do this), there isn't really a unified community. And yet despite of this, there are many close communities of designers that like to collaborate (maybe another inherent characteristic), so the question is how we bring these disparate groups together in order to have a wider dialogue about, and exposure to, design in Toronto.


Sol LeWitt Chairs by Harry Wei & Zak Fish

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

Multiplicity, the use of many small, simple elements that are combined to form larger, more complex works; an interest in traditional methods of making and joinery, most often seen in wood furniture that uses mortise and tenon joints for example; and our everlasting love affair with computer-generated organic forms. It almost seems that the return to the orthogonal and the simple operates a counterpoint to the hyperbolic, parametric, laser cut, 3-d printed, etc., trends in both design and architecture, as if to ask: what happened to the value of making things by hand, and off screen?


Sol LeWitt Chairs by Harry Wei & Zak Fish

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

Simple answer: yes. And in a way, it almost has to. I feel that Toronto's Design Week up until now has had its blinders on, and instead it needs to be inclusive and supportive of new initiatives. The Toronto Design Offsite (TO DO) List is one example of how a group of smaller exhibitions and events have come together in order to share resources, knowledge and connections, in order to promote what's new in Canadian design. We'll also be coming out with an iPhone App so visitors can quickly 'tap in' to what's going on.


Sol LeWitt Chairs by Harry Wei & Zak Fish


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