toronto design offsite 2015

10 events to catch at Toronto Design Offsite 2015

Toronto Design Offsite (TO DO, for short) is once again poised to celebrate local design talent for another year, bringing a packed calendar of gallery exhibits, interactive installations, and design-oriented talks and panels. While some of the familiar picks on the TO DO list always make for safe bets (including the Gladstone's Come Up To My Room, now in its 12th year, and a number of student exhibitions), there are plenty of events and shows, from huge installations and parties to tiny storefront exhibits, to discover.

Here are my picks for 10 events and exhibits to check out at this year's festival.

Outside The Box series (January 19-25)
While Toronto design is at the centre of TO DO, cities around North America get some representation through this series of window installations, each dedicated to showcasing curated picks from a given city's design scene (including Detroit, Calgary, Montreal, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Seattle and Vancouver).

This annual exhibit by OCAD's furniture design students is a perennial favourite, featuring designs that explore the role of furnishings as cultural items and as a means for personal expression. Year in and year out, this is an exhibit that brings discussion to the table (ha) about the intersection of conceptual art and practical design.

April 30, 1904 (January 19-25)
This window installation at Coolearth Architecture Inc. commemorates a little piece of Junction history - the day 10,000 residents packed local hotel bars to enjoy the last day of drinking before Prohibition was enacted in the neighbourhood. The installation features a mosaic of 10,000 shimmering bottle caps, as well as a supplementary exhibition exploring the history behind the event.

Exporting Toronto Design (January 20)
This panel discussion, featuring four local experts (including Paul Rowan, a founding partner at Umbra, and Laura Stein, the creative director of Bruce Mau Design), will tackle how to bring Toronto design talent to the world stage. Organizers promise the talk at Lightform will be a launching point for a future initiative to spread Toronto design internationally.

White Out (January 20-25)
If you're not already sick of looking at a sea of white and grey outside, head to this group exhibit at TAC Art/Work Gallery, which explores the subleties and variations in what we might think of as the absence of colour.

PechaKucha Night Toronto Vol. 32 (January 20)
Always a favourite at TDS, PechaKucha Night is back, teaming up with the Colour Research Society of Canada to present an evening of mini-lectures on the topic of colour. The format remains the same: Experts are permitted to bring 20 slides and talk about each image for 20 seconds, making for informal, enlightening chats.

Anderssen Voll & Mjolk (January 21-February 23)
Lovers of industrial design, product design and all things Scandinavian won't want to miss this installation at Mjolk, the first North American retrospective of work by Norwegian design firm Anderssen Voll. The design duo will be on hand January 24 for an interview to discuss their work (including designs for Foscarini and Muuto) and the Norwegian design scene.

Wintersphere (January 21)
The Toronto School of Art is taking over the Junction Train Platform for this one-night-only event featuring digital installations and interactive sculptures (including giant spheres of marshmallows - which visitors can disassemble for roasting over a campfire). Sip on some hot chocolate and check out student work.

A Dawn For Leonia (Opens January 23)
This exhibit by SUMO Project examines a dystopian future in which the earth has been totally stripped of resources by manufacturing and consumption, and most of the population survives using repurposed or found objects (or items assembled from both). It's on at the Harbourfront Centre's Architecture Gallery until June, but you can attend the opening reception January 23.

TO DO Closing Party with Love Design (January 24)
The festival's closing party, which doubles as a celebration of the Gladstone's annual Come Up To My Room show, promises a packed dance floor - but the real draw for Saturday night's festivities is the promise of installations by multimedia artist Alexandra Mackenzie (whom you might also know as Petra Glynt).

Did I miss any? Leave your picks for TO DO 2015 in the comments.

Photo of Come Up To My Room 2014 by Natta Summerky.

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