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Design Takes Over Canada: What To See at DesignTO Festival & IDS Toronto


Canada is currently hosting its biggest design events of the year. Here is our rundown

of what not to miss!

By Shivani V K

17 Jan 2024

Future Neighbourhood at the Interior Design Show (IDS) 2024, Toronto | Image Courtesy of IDS Toronto

Toronto came alive this past week with two of Canada’s biggest design festivals kicking off in style. The DesignTO Festival, going into its 14th year with support from the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund, Ontario Arts Council, and Government of Ontario, has on offer over 100 free exhibitions, installations, and events; artists and designers from diverse disciplines are presenting bold and ambitious design ideas that respond to the climate crisis, technology, social justice, city building, and more.

The Interior Design Show (IDS) Toronto made a return as well with its 25th edition. With a view to set the stage for what lies ahead in interior design, the show presents never-before- seen products from legacy brands and solutions for the future from some of the most influential design thinkers of today. Here’s our selection of what not to miss at the two events.

DesignTO Talks: Dematerialized

"Design has no future because matter has no future." Based on this popular quote by French industrial designer and architect Philippe Starck, the festival's 9th annual symposium brings together experts from across the design and digital fields for two sessions to discuss what the future of design will look like in an increasingly digital world. Speakers include Skawennati, a well-known new media artist and storyteller, Joel Ong, a Canadian artist and researcher involved in the field of interactive and immersive experiences, and Ruby Thelot, a New York City-based designer and cyber-ethnographer.

January 24 & 25, 2024 | 6-8 PM EST


Dematerialized; Particulate Signals by Alex Yueyan Li | Image by Naho Kubota; Courtesy of DesignTO Festival

Future Matters

Exploring the potential of matter or material to shape and communicate, this is a group exhibition featuring the work of eight local and international artists, including Yassine Ben Abdallah, Morgan Possberg Denne and Elaine Whittaker. Delving into themes of sustainability, colonialism and culture, amongst many others, the exhibition includes a wide range of works in textiles, photography, installations and sculpture, using simple materials to evoke potent ideas.

January 19 - April 28, 2024

Gallery 235, Harbourfront Centre 

235 Queens Quay West, Toronto

The Bittersweet Memory of the Plantation by Yassine Ben Abdallah | Image by Florian Lafosse; Courtesy of DesignTO Festival

A room is a home, is a playground

Celebrating joy in design, this site-specific exhibit features large inflated installations that turn a hotel lobby into a site that invites free play, and inspires joy, wonder and curiosity. The installation, envisioned and designed by Montreal/Toronto-based creative practice Studio Rat and produced by Ace Hotel Toronto, welcomes visitors to explore their imagination in this whimsical space. 

January 26 – 28 2024

Ace Hotel Toronto - Interspace

51 Camden Street, B2 Level, Toronto

A room is a home, is a playground by Ace Hotel Toronto and StudioRat | Image by StudioRat; Courtesy of DesignTO Festival

Could you take a picture?

This installation by Cinzia Campolese, a Montreal-based new media artist, prompts visitors to reflect on their inclination to document moments, challenging them to reconsider the role of technology in shaping perceptions and experiences. Viewable solely through smartphone cameras, the interplay between camera shutter speed and the LED screens that make up the exhibit creates mesmerizing interference patterns. 

January 19 – 28, 2024

Metro Toronto Convention Centre, North Building

255 Front Street West, Toronto

Could you take a picture by Cinzia Campolese | Image by Fabian Schreye; Courtesy of DesignTO Festival

Future Neighbourhood

In this new, immersive feature for IDS 2024, six design teams – including Interior Architects (IA), Noam Hazan, Safoura Zahedi, SDI Design with Q4 Architects, SVN, and Syllable Design – explore how interior design will continue to adapt and shape our lives. The city of Toronto, which is made up of distinct neighborhoods, inspired this feature. Visitors can walk down a central street, and then enter each installation, experiencing design solutions to problems including the housing crisis, the ever-evolving crossover of work and living spaces, aging in place, and the introduction of technology into different interiors.

January 18 - 21, 2024

Metro Toronto Convention Centre

North Building, Toronto

Housing the Unhoused by SvN in collaboration with Two-Steps Home and CABN | Image Courtesy of DesignTO Festival


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