This weekend, immerse yourself in the world of art and design. The Toronto Design Offsite Festival (TO DO) is now in its 7th year, and with over 400+ designers and artists participating at venues all over the city, it’s quickly becoming one of the largest public art programs in Canada.
As the festival gets underway, it’s bringing art and design out of the studios and into the streets. Storefronts across the city are being transformed into exhibition displays, while local shops and galleries play host to more immersive installations, showcasing work by local and international contributors alike. Lectures and workshops by renowned members of the art and design community are open to the public and are great places to learn and get involved. Here are our top picks of what not to miss over the weekend.
Outside the Box – Free
Gladstone Hotel Art Hut (1181 Queen Street West)
Outside the Box is an annual exhibition that travels across the country in banker boxes. The boxes are curated by correspondents from participating cities based on the year’s theme. Created by TO DO five years ago, the exhibit aims to build a map of design in North America. This year’s theme – “discovery” – is explored by 6 Canadian and 5 US cities: Asheville, Detroit, Edmonton, Halifax, Los Angeles, Medicine Hat, Montreal, New York, San Francisco Bay Area, Toronto, and Vancouver. Discover the collection of thoughtfully designed objects housed in each city’s banker box.
Tables, Chairs & Other Unrelated Objects – $10
Gladstone Hotel Art Hut (1181 Queen Street West)
OCAD students explore the role of furniture as a medium for personal expression. Curated by recent graduate Alisa Maria Wronski, the exhibit will showcase furniture that extends beyond its traditional functions.
Do Design + Do Design Walking Tour – Free
Guided Walk Sunday January 22 @ 1:55pm (meet at Caldense Bakery) at various venues along Dundas West (between Grace St. & Bathurst)
Check out the latest creations from emerging and established designers as they convert storefronts along Dundas West into personal gallery spaces. This is a great introduction to newcomers of the festival to join other participants in a 40-minute guided walk through this year’s exhibits.
Come up to my Bedroom (CUTMR) – $10
The Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen Street West)
Founded in 2004 by Christina Zeidler and Pamila Matharu as a site for experiential art installation, CUTMR (now in its 14th year) has become a prominent fixture in the Toronto alternative art scene. With over 25 different immersive, site-specific installations taking over every corner of the historic Gladstone Hotel, the exhibit is still pushing the envelope.
Evolution – Free
Design Exchange (234 Bay Street)
Former TO DO Executive Director Sanam Samanian has curated an exhibit that focuses on biomimicry and the examination of technologies imitating nature. The interactive exhibit showcases a number of designers and artists, including Mahtab Oskuee’s crochet membrane, which contracts and expands as it senses viewers, and Philip Beesley’s interactive architectural web made out of lightweight digitally fabricated components fitted with meshed microprocessors and sensors.
The Sniff Bar – Free but requires RSVP
Oben Flats Leslieville (1075 Queen Street East)
A sensory experience with perfumer Tracy Pepe, the Sniff Bar introduces the audience to the art of scent design. Tracy teaches the audience about raw, organic materials and true apothecary blending, exploring how scent relates to colour and ultimately enhances ones sensorial experience.
Immersion // CURRENTFORM Launch – $15
Friday 9:00pm-2:30am at 36 East Liberty Street
Blurring the line between the physical and digital, currentform.ca is throwing a multisensory party with music and drinks. They’re inviting guests to engage in ambient, ephemeral and somatosensory experiences.
Living Well – Free
1106 Queen Street West
Living Well, curated by TO DO and Craft Ontario and now in its 3rd year, brings together 12 artists and designers to explore how design can affect, contribute, and improve our lives. Whether through tangible design or abstract exploration of the concepts, artists from various backgrounds come together to explore the idea that design can help us live better, be healthier and be happier.
That Is Best Which Works Best – Free
Mjölk (2959 Dundas Street West)
Showcasing the parallel between antique craftwork and modern pieces, That Is Best Which Works Best examines how contemporary practices have been influenced by the past. With a series of museum quality pieces from the shaker movement on display, along with works from Canadian designer Thom Fougere and Norwegian designer Hallgeir Homstvedt, one can see how both old and new can offer the same functional and timeless aesthetic.
Compact Living – Free
Friday & Saturday 10-7pm and Sunday 11-6pm at 165 John Street
Compact Living explores our current urban landscapes and the rapidly decreasing square feet of livable space in urban centers. With condo sizes in Toronto shrinking by the second, getting the jump on checking out the latest innovations in efficient compact living may not be a bad idea.
Bright – Free
MADE Design (394 King Street East) is the perfect setting for Anna Tung and Brad Turner’s Bright exhibit. The exhibit highlights their new works that use light, blown glass, and electrical cords to transform their lamps, vases, and mirrors from functional products to pieces of art. Moore’s two-storey shop is filled exclusively with independent Canadian designed goods and home wares. Take some time to browse the shelves; you’re sure to find something you like.