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Interior Design Show(ist)

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A project by architect Johnson Chou and distributor Sound Solutions, part of IDS 08 Collaborations exhibit.
Three days, over three hundred exhibitors: Toronto’s Interior Design Show moves into the Exhibition Place this weekend, and holy mother of invention, where do you start?
Well, there’s the opening night gala, of course. Promisingly titled “Decadence,” the party takes place this Thursday, February 21, from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the Direct Energy Centre; $50 in advance or $55 at the doors buys you the chance to sneak-preview the displays and sip fizz with hot-shot architects and HGTV hosts. But for those more interested in the show than the schmooze, Torontoist is here to guide IDS attendees through the maze to some of the must-see exhibits and events.


In celebration of the show’s 10th anniversary, IDS 08 will feature 10 Innovative Canadian Designers, some emerging, some established, and all presenting the best and brightest of their ideas in a centre-aisle display of experiential installations. Our preemptive pick for number one? Whatever Castor designs. The Toronto trio’s incandescent installations, starring recycled light tubes, have been popping up everywhere from Circa to The Gladstone, and we can’t wait to see what they put together next.
If you’re hunting for cool, aim to spend at least half a day poring over Prototypes, a juried showcase of shiny new ideas from independent designers, many of them local. Contemporary furniture makers Vukan Popovic, of VKN Design, and Justin Heffering, of Kaleidoscope, are collaborating on a collection of model kit-inspired, ready-to-assemble seating. Popovic says the recycled plastic chairs, which are literally a snap to put together, are based on the idea of “minimal waste, labour, packaging, and assembly.” (Like IKEA, but for people with money. And taste.) Erin McCutcheon enjoys mixing craft and modern design, so it’s no surprise her “Orange Chair and Ottoman” looks like a chair- and ottoman-shaped ball of yarn. An exquisite lamp by Willie Tsang uses laser-cut silhouettes of 21 endangered Canadian flowers to literally shed light on the issue; a matching coffee table and room divider promise to transform any space into a zen garden. And Thout (as in, without a doubt Toronto’s hottest modernists) are presenting their almost-too-cute “beanbench,” a row of exercise balls snuggled in a bright green fabric sock to look like (you guessed it) a spring-fresh bean.
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“Orange Chair & Ottoman,” by Erin McCutcheon
Dozens of fresh-off-the-loft-floor products will be launched at this year’s IDS, but we have just two words for you: Established & Sons. The British design manufacturer was founded in 2004 by former Wallpaper magazine publisher Alasdhair Willis (fashion types know him as Mr. Stella McCartney) and became insta-famous for selling fantastic (and fantasy-priced) one-offs by the UK’s hottest designers. Established & Sons is showing in Canada for the first time this weekend, thanks to Ossington dream home outfitters Ministry of the Interior (80 Ossington Avenue). It’s enough to make any design geek’s black-rimmed glasses steam up.
Of all the international guest speakers chalked in boldface on this weekend’s slate, we’re most excited for Friday’s talk by Tom Dixon, British design icon and industrialist. Dixon is a former disco band bassist and art school dropout, which you’d think would give anyone enough cultural currency to retire at 30. Luckily for the world, he decided to become an overtime innovator instead—creative directing at Habitat, Artek, and his own eponymous line, collaborating with fashion labels Paul Smith, Vivienne Westwood, and Lacoste, and designing everything from Japanese nightclubs to the world’s longest sofa at a Milanese airport. In September, he gave away 1000 ecologically friendly “Blow” lights in Trafalgar Square; the year before, his Chair Grab put 500 polyesterene dish chairs in the hands of lucky Londoners. Here in Toronto, we’d be happy if he gave us a wink. Dixon takes to the KRUPS stage at 3 p.m. Friday—which, unfortunately for the masses, happens to be Professional Trade Day at IDS.
Public days are Saturday and Sunday, February 23 and 24. Doors open at 10 a.m. both days, and tickets are $16 online or $18 at the door. Children under 12 are admitted free, so bring your tykes and let them play house in the Kidzone. Workshops and seminar tickets are selling fast and are $35 each including admission.

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