Recycling at the ROM
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Recycling at the ROM

Todd Fakowsky’s Tray Tables is at the Royal Ontario Museum’s Cut/Paste exhibit, open from January 20 to January 31.

Recycling and design collide as the new “Cut/Paste: Creative Reuse in Canadian Design” opened yesterday at the Royal Ontario Museum. In the exhibit Canadian creative design studio Motherbrand explores the way artists can create new designs from existing and salvaged products, illustrating the interplay between material history and contemporary design needs. The show has been installed in the Institute for Contemporary Culture display room, and coincides with the first annual Toronto International Design Festival.

John Ryan, co-curator of the exhibit and director of Motherbrand Toronto, said he and his partner, Michael Erdmann, selected many of the pieces from the four thousand items in the Canadian Design Resource, an online hub for artists, designers, and their work. “We began to notice a lot of threads,” said Ryan. Necessity, simplicity, and the “ironic play with prior products” are all trends in Canadian redesign.
Early Canadian design was born out of necessity, said Ryan. The minimalist design of Fred Moffat’s K42 Kettle was the result of manufacturing constraints during World War Two. More recently, reducing consumption is an issue that designers are addressing in myriad ways. Umbra’s Tie Clock reuses neckties found at Goodwill to create a functional and aesthetic timepiece.

This Tie Clock designed by Umbra uses upcycled neckties from Goodwill.
This is a Lamp, in which he stuck a light source inside a Phillippe Stark arm chair, Gary Ponzo’s Paperclip Chandelier (which is exactly what it sounds like), and Small Town Quilt, a sewn collection of T-shirts from a small prairie town.

This is a Lamp by Tobias Wong illuminates a Philippe Stark arm chair.

Another interesting matter raised by the exhibit is democratic design. Reused and recycled objects are available to all, extending the creative process to those who may not have the resources to attain primary materials. Patty Johnson and Jean Paul Sylvaince’s Tobacco Vessels is one instance of this: for Onsite Carribean, Johnson designed vases made from paper machéd tobacco leaves, which the local craft community then produced. The pieces combine materials and techniques that are available to even the most impoverished.
It’s a fresh take on the Canadian penchant for resourcefulness, and a healthy reminder that resources can be easier to find than you think.
“Cut/Paste: Creative Reuse in Canadian Design” runs until January 31 at the Royal Ontario Museum.
Photos by Alixandra Gould/Torontoist

CORRECTION: JANUARY 22, 2010 This article originally suggested that Patty Johnson both designed, and produced, the designer vases made from paper machéd tobacco leaves; in fact, the local craft community followed her designs to produce them.