Photo of Bau-Xi Gallery interior courtesy of IDS 09.
Could the Interior Design Show be at a better time? The annual celebration of the Great Indoors—everything from floor tiles to furniture-art to future-perfect concept spaces—happens in the heart of our hibernation, the nadir of winter’s discontentment. This year, it’s February 5 through 8, at Exhibition Place. (Don’t even check your agenda. You have nothing to do.)
It also makes good new-new-new-new-economic sense. With the Dow-Jones dropping like mercury, more of us are staying home (to save our money) and buying—or at least browsing—local (to save our economy?). And IDS does its best to make both endeavours considerably sexier than they sound.
Enter Canadiana. You know how it’s not a winter day in 2K9 unless you see two out of three: plaid flannel, Sorels, or a Hudson’s Bay blanket coat? Yeah, well, just like that, we imagine a stroll through the IDS aisles will reveal more creature comforts (think moose and beaver motifs) and natural habitats (no more faux-bois, but real home-forested materials) than ever. In other words, things that aren’t just made in Canada, but also look like they’re made in Canada and not—for once?—in a bad way.
Photo of Atelier Jacob’s Warp Lounge Chair courtesy of IDS 09.
Take, for example, the ever-promising Prototypes exhibit, which showcases new one-off designs, still steaming from the presses, by young or up-and-coming creators. This year, a record 120-plus entries were submitted. Of these, 25 were selected. And of those, all but one are Canadian. (Fourteen are 416-ers, too.) That there’s a selection bias goes without saying; still, this year’s contestants are world-class. Our favourite already? Rob Southcott. Last year, his “United We Stand” chair—a perfect example of Canadiana, with its posts intertwined like antlers or branches—stole true patriot hearts. (It now stands proudly in the entrance of the Gladstone Hotel.) This year, we can’t wait to explore his “Community Chest” design, pictured at bottom, in person.
Next stop on the cool trail: Castor, a.k.a. architect, art director, and restaurateur Kei Ng and architectural stone carver and philosophy major Brian Richer. Arguably Toronto’s raddest designers of any kind, the industrialite pair could singlehandedly make CanCon cool. (Check out their most recent such effort, a concrete table with legs made to look “chewed by beavers.”)
Last year’s Castor concept space was an ice fishing hut, built of concrete and stained glass in the shape of a cross. (Holy amazing.) This year, word has it they’re working with a… Winnebago? Well, one man’s trailer trash is another man’s treasure.
The other four of the 5×5 n,Concept Spaces will be designed by architect Dee Dee Taylor Hannah—who promises to create something “indulgent” (how timely!)—buzzy, boutique-y new design duo 64th + Queen, Tomas Pearce Interior Design, and Earth Inc., a landscape design team.
If the affordable is more your thing, you’ll want to attend at least one of the public seminars, sure to be crammed with “decorating on a budget” advice. Saturday‘s your best bet: at 1 p.m., designer Tim Mather talks about “Living Big in a Small Space”; then, at 4 p.m., House & Home’s Mark Challen hosts a panel with three design blog editors—Grace Booney of design*sponge, Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan of apartmenttherapy, and Harry Wakefield of mocoloco—who, because they’re blog editors, know the meaning of “shoestring.” (The former is a talk, included free with admission; the latter is a seminar, which costs $35 but includes admission for the day. General admission is $17. To buy tickets, click here.)
Photo of Rob Southcott’s Community Chest courtesy of IDS 09.