As the newly appointed president of Toronto's Design Exchange, Shauna Levy oversees exhibitions showcasing the best in Canadian and global design. It's a subject the 43-year-old co-founder of the Interior Design Show knows well, both professionally and personally: When she decorated the semi-detached home she shares with Dutch-born husband Anne Vos, their young daughter and a black Lab named Buddy in Toronto's Beaches neighbourhood, she set out to furnish the space with unique art and design objects whose functions have as much integrity as their forms. Several of her most eye-catching pieces can be found in her 150-square-foot dining room, her favourite for being a hub of family life: "It sits in the centre of our first floor, but it also sits at the centre of our lives," Levy says. "It is a space that doubles − or triples − as an arts-and-crafts room for our daughter, a workspace, [the place]where we eat and where we host dinner parties that go way into the morning."
The monkey picture
"The artist is Greg Shegler, whom I first saw and met at The Artist Project in Toronto. Greg's multilayered collages are nostalgic tornadoes − playful and graphic. It hung on the wall in my IDS office for several years and was given to me as a gift when I left MMPI [the show's producer]"
The overhead fixture
"This paper chandelier was designed by Belgian design duo Studio Job for Dutch furniture and lighting manufacturer Moooi. It is constructed with cardboard and paper and is a playful yet artful take on a chandelier. Studio Job are one of my favourites; they have succeeded in striking a perfect balance between art and design, using their work as storytelling and future forecasting."
The ceramic cake
"This is a Cake of Peace cake plate designed by Studio Job for Royal Tichelaar Makkum. It is white biscuit porcelain with relief work. Royal Tichelaar Makkum is the oldest company in the Netherlands, established in 1572. Makkum is known not only for its delftware production but also for its collaborations with a number of leading artist-designers. It's a prized piece."
"These are from my personal collection of designer and architect-signed books and include titles by the Swedish firm Claesson Koivisto Rune, Italian designer Piero Lissoni and Belgian designer Arne Quinze. Over the years, I managed to convince some of the world's most celebrated designers to come to Toronto to speak at IDS, a tradition I hope to continue at the D/X. What makes all of these books special to me is that they are multidisciplinary in their approach, super-talented and also really nice guys."
"This is the Raw Table by Canadian designer Garth Roberts for the internationally acclaimed Italian furniture manufacturer Zanotta. It has raw solid oak planks with traditionally bevelled ends that are belted in contemporary industrial metal braces. We love the marriage of the traditional with the contemporary."
The black and white painting
"It's called Network and it's by Israeli artist Nissim Ben Aderet, whom I also found at the Artist Project this past March. My husband and I both loved it immediately − which, because it happens so rarely, would have been reason enough to buy it. It also makes a very bold graphic statement."
"These are VIP chairs by Dutch designer Marcel Wanders for Moooi. Upholstered in a grey felt wool, they have bell-bottom legs that float on casters, allowing for comfortable seating and conversation − which might explain why our dinner parties last so long."