Posted in Design
02/1 2011

Design Beat Goes On

Contributed by Christopher Jones

katherineSMThe Interior Design Show may be over for another year but a couple of spillover shows arranged as part of the Toronto International Design Festival continue: Capacity at Bookhou (798 Dundas Street West) runs until Februrary 6, and just down the block, Made at Home (876 Dundas Street West, upstairs) continues until Feb. 12.

In Capacity — curated by artists Katherine Morley (left) and Erin McCutcheon — 10 designers consider the meaning and concept of capacity. All of the works in the show happen to be by women, a fact Morley didn’t intend to focus on but “as it turns out, it’s really hard not to talk about,” she told me as she guided me through the show.

“Women are really well represented in the areas of art and craft but in design we have some catching up to do.”

Much of Morley’s work is based in graphic design; for Capacity she wrote, designed and self-published a limited-edition children’s book called Hanna, about a little chick who grows too big; complimenting the book is a set of porcelain egg cups and a display case fashioned from a reclaimed telephone pole called the Dreamweaver Shelf.

Lodestar by Erin McCutcheon
McCutcheon’s piece, above, feels more like art than design, at least that’s my impression. Called Lodestar, the work is a mobile composed of survival kit lodestars and a series of small model airplanes positioned so that they can be viewed through the signal mirrors. Each lodestar is inscribed with a quote from Ernest Shackleton to underscore McCutcheon’s theme of humankind’s capacity for survival.

I don’t have room here to detail every work in the show but two of the artists, Nathalie Nahas, above left (Now I Know My ABCs about a child’s capacity to learn), and Ayla Newhouse (The Universe Will Not be Typeset) were good enough to pose for me so I have to include them. Newhouse is seen on fellow designer Michelle Ivankovic‘s Maker Sofa, composed of velvet-covered exercise balls with brass buttons. Other particularly photogenic works include Kristen White‘s Aster* Bowls and Nest (1:2:3:4), below.

Kristen White's Aster* Bowls and nesting chairs
Across the street, above MADE, Canadian design champions Shaun Moore and Julie Nicholson have turned an upstairs apartment, below, into a design showcase furnished with new work by local designers including Morley, Brothers Dressler, Bev Hisey, Dylan McKinnon, Propellor Design, Orest Tatryn and many others. The spaces feel very much like the hipster hangout you’d expect to find on this stretch of up-and-coming Dundas Street West.

For the past three years Moore and Nicholson have sponsored the incredible expanding Radiant Dark design exhibition and this year they decided to scale things back and “refresh” the concept. Made At Home is open for viewing from 12 – 6 pm daily.

Photos by Christopher Jones

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