The Toronto Design Offsite Festival, with over 80 events and exhibitions featuring works by Canadian and international talent, is a sight to behold. From Jan. 16 to 22, the city transforms into a major creative hub, highlighting the best in contemporary design covering a variety of disciplines, from jewellery and ceramics to textiles and furniture. Anya Georgijevic picks five must-see exhibitions that consider design from distinct points of views, be it history, intimacy, community, mindfulness or materialism
SHAKE IT UP
In That is Best Which Works Best, retailer Mjölk shines a light on the underrated Shaker style. Due to its austere simplicity, Shaker furniture is often mistaken for early modernism, although it was developed half a century before architect Louis Sullivan declared "form follows function." By combining museum-quality objects from the collection of Hancock Shaker Village in Massachusetts with the works by contemporary designers Thom Fougere and Hallgeir Homstvedt, and musician Jason Collett, the exhibition facilitates a conversation between antique and modern pieces.
Mjölk, 2959 Dundas St. W. Opening reception: Jan. 18, 7-10 p.m.
Toronto-based product and jewellery designer Jade Dumrath explores the dynamic nature of small objects for the home. Just in time for the height of the Hygge trend, Adørn: Objects for Better Living fuses traditional and contemporary craft and design processes to create pieces inspired by Dumrath's Danish family gatherings and ceremonial objects. The designer highlights our intimate relationship with homewares by adding kinetic elements to her work, and the audience is encouraged to interact with the objects, experiencing the beauty of movement on a small scale.
Latitude 44 Gallery, 2900 Dundas St. W., Opening reception: Jan. 21, 3-7 p.m.
CITY TO CITY
The third instalment of the annual travelling exhibition Outside the Box features the work of over 70 artists and designers curated by local correspondents from cities across North America (Asheville, Detroit, Edmonton, Halifax, Los Angeles, Medicine Hat, Montreal, New York, San Francisco, Toronto and Vancouver). For the exhibit, designers were asked to respond to the theme of discovery by creating a collection of objects that can fit inside a Bankers box – each box representing a participating city. The works being shown stem from multiple disciplines including furniture and fashion.
Gladstone Hotel Art Hut, 1181 Queen St. W. Opening reception: Jan. 21, 5-8 p.m.
The new Craft Ontario Gallery space makes its debut with Living Well, a group exhibition showcasing the work of designers exploring the capacity of design to help us feel or live better, and the ways in which it can transform us (or how we use design to transform ourselves). For example, Victoria Milley and Felicia Semiawan's food cart reinforces our relationship with food as well with the waste we produce in the process, while Louie George Michael's dual chair investigates the connections between people, playing on the scales between furniture and architecture.
Craft Ontario Gallery, 1106 Queen St. W. Opening reception: Jan. 22, 3-6 p.m.
Using Rem Koolhaas's concept of Junkspace, in which the architect likens the phenomenon of junk food to the built environment, artist Juan Ortiz-Apuy explores the idea of "total design" in an exhibition titled The Garden of Earthly Delights. The Montreal-based artist's large-scale collages feature an array of imagery, from pop culture icons such as Mickey Mouse to pictures clipped from store catalogues. Inspired by Early Netherlandish painting, Oritz-Apuy references the fantastical work of Hieronymus Bosch (hence the title), swapping religious imagery with examples of contemporary consumerism.
Gallery 44, 401 Richmond St. W., Suite 120. Opening reception: Jan. 13, 6-8 p.m.