Toronto Design Offsite 2011: Tools
by sabine7 / January 29, 2011

Organized by designer and architect Joy Charbonneau, Tools is an exploration of the "conceptual territory of tools through objects, sculpture, products, and artifacts" on now during Toronto Design Week 2011. Featuring new work by Chromoly, Coryn Kempster, Crawford Noble, Derek McLeod, Dieter Janssen, Emil Teleki, Joy Charbonneau, Julia Jamrozik, Luflic, Noam Design Inc., and Rob Southcott, Tools is just the sort of solid, intelligent show we love. Charbonneau was involved with last year's Heavy Metal show which featured many of the same designers.


Joy Charbonneau

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

I prefer to call myself an 'organizer' rather than a 'curator' as our group comes up with our theme collectively. We typically have meetings at bars or over dinner parties where we ponder ideas for our next project. This year we created a shortlist and voted to determine that Tools would be our theme for this year's Design Week. Tools are interesting to us for their efficient beauty and functionality. Tools can be culturally specific, and even descriptive of lifestyle, values, and skills. The project for our group was to make a tool or create an interpretation of a tool.


Chromoly's Everyday Weapons, everyday tools, weaponized

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

Our group of designers came together in 2009 when Patrick Turner (founder of the design company Thout) invited a handful of local designers out for drinks to chit chat about design. This social meeting became a regular event and our show last year, Heavy Metal, was the first product of our 'design club'. Patrick has since moved to Montreal, and we have added a few more designers to the table who are friends of the original members.


Julia Jamrozik & Coryn Kempster's Do You See What I See? tool for sharing perspectives

How does the exhibition space contribute to the show?

We are exhibiting at The Department this year (1389 Dundas Street West). It is a snappy, white, West end gallery that gives us a lot of creative freedom. We don't get the visitor traffic of the trade show, but we have more control over the atmosphere and can offer guests an intimate and curated experience of our work.


Little Hatchet pendant/functional multi tool by Rob Southcott

How has curating TOOLS been different from last year's Heavy Metal show?

Last year we had an idea of what the formal outcome of the work was going to be before we even started designing it; it was an exploration in cast metal, we knew our artifacts were going to be relatively small, heavy, and solid. This year we don't have material constraints, and the theme allows for work that is more conceptual and narrative. We like making rules to work within, but the subject of tools has caused some lively debates amongst our group which has thrown most rules out the window.


Point, Hammer, Wedge by Derek McLeod, large scale surfaces of tools

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

Canada doesn't have many large design oriented companies manufacturing goods here. As a result, much of Canada's design community leans toward small studios doing custom work, limited batches of production, and work which blurs the boundary between design and art. Toronto is the largest design community in Canada backed by five great design education institutions - OCAD, Sheraton, George Brown, Humber College, and the University of Toronto. Our design scene is growing and our designers are on the cusp of earning international acclaim.


Perfect by Joy Charbonneau, machinist gage pins arranged in decreasing size

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

In architecture, I am enjoying the straightforward robustness of the work of Brazilian architect Marcio Kogan. Similarly in design, I am paying attention to objects with singular natural materials and great proportions - the pieces of marble furniture by Marsotto Edizioni for example. There are many classic design pieces being reissued in a new spectrum of colours which I think reinforces their timelessness and makes them new all over again. I also like replications of nature, like Nymphenburg's series of animals in white and black biscuit porcelain.

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

Hell yes. We are still in an adolescent stage compared with our international counterparts. And grow we will.


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