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Come Up To My Room, 2007

Come Up To My Room is a yearly alternative design exhibition held at the Gladstone Hotel. The exhibition is completely hands off with the designers. Once selected, the curators do not interfere with the artist's vision. The result is a unique and experimental experience halfway between design and art. This was my first year attending and I was intrigued by the possibilities. I knew Magic Pony would be fun, but what would the other artists do?

There were two symposia over the weekend. I attended the Saturday session called The Next Step Lecture. This presentation highlighted five projects that are on the cutting edge of current design practices. The session was excellent and the projects were inspiring.

Two of the projects dealt with environmental concerns. Lorraine Gauthier told us of the Now House Project that was one of 12 selected winners the CMHC's Equilibrium sustainable housing competition. Instead of designing a new building, as many of the big builders had done, the Now House Project focused on retrofitting a World War II home to one that produces as much energy as it consumes. The term net zero energy is used to describe this type of energy use. Noel Harding, who is responsible for those teeth looking things you see coming down the DVP, talked about his latest project, the Green Corridor. The project will redevelop the international bridge between the US and Canada in Windsor using the latest in green technology. You can view a fancy video presentation on the Green Corridor website. Patty Johnson talked about the North South Project that promotes long-term sustainable business practices that benefit community, producer and craftsperson. The final two projects were retail-gallery hybrids that promote Canadian design. Made was started by Shaun Moore and Julie Nicholson. They opened a showroom on Dundas Street W in September 2006. Jamie Cheveldeyoff, owner of Koma furniture gallery talked about the gallery portion of his business. It is one of the few places that new furniture designers can exhibit their work in the city.

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After the presentation, it was time to see the exhibits on the second floor. 12 designers setup shop in the rooms with lighting and furniture installations in the hallways. A few rooms really stood out in my mind. Coe and Waito in Room 206 created a ceramic jellyfish display that was stunning. The jellyfish were so detailed that I couldn't imagine what went into creating them. Light in Silhouette was one of the installations. I liked the look of the pitch-black lamps and the light that they gave off. It gave me ideas of trolling Value Village for lamps and painting them black. Marco Jacob in Room 214 created what I called the reverse mirror room that had mirror on the floor and ceiling. Marco let me know that at night he had lighting placed behind the walls for an illuminated effect. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the opening party and missed that cool effect. Of course I loved Magic Pony in Room 201 which celebrated the lost arts and crafts of grandmothers. Many of the art was for sale and the Owl marionette and brooch really tempted me. I settled on the very cute Peanut bunny pin, which is now on my winter hat.

By far the most interesting exhibit I saw was from Gorbet Design Inc. They created a retro looking interactive exhibit. It stars with I _ _ _ _ YOU. Each letter is encased in its own individual tube. The user can select a four-letter word for the blank areas using a knob on the exhibit. Once chosen the letters change to create new phrases that sometime border on creepy. I spent some time talking to Matt and Susan, the co founders. They currently have two installations in the city one at the Drake Hotel and the other at Lilieo. Future work includes commissions for The Rom and York University.

I take horrible pictures and I recruited some of the blogTO folk to chip in. Thanks to Tanja and Mike for their photos. Look and see what this year's event had to offer.


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