| Follow Us: Facebook Twitter Youtube RSS Feed


Toronto Design Offsite Festival takes design out of the studio and into the streets

Toronto Design Offsite 2016 Digital Fabrication Zone 1

Just in time to ward off the winter blues, Toronto Design Offsite Festival (TO DO) descends on the streets and storefronts from January 18 to 24 to celebrate Toronto's design talent.
At last year's Toronto Design Offsite festival, about 61 per cent of attendees were designers, people with some connection to the world of art, architecture and design. At this year's festival, executive director Jeremy Vandermeij predicts that the masses will outnumber the professionals. Organizers have stepped up their game to meet the growing interest in independent design, offering 89 exhibitions, with several new program streams this year. As well as working with dozens of partners (including the Gladstone Hotel, presenting the 13th edition of Come Up to My Room), the festival is self-producing eight events.

"It's accessible, it's fun and it's 90 per cent free," says Vandermeij. "We take a type of design that is usually only accessible to other designers or to people who have a lot of money—because it can be expensive to produce or complex in its theories—and bring that to the general public in a way that's not pretentious because we don't feel pretentious about it. Everyone is really warm." says Jeremy. "A lot of the designers are not necessarily there to sell something. A lot are there to share what they do with the city. You can feel that energy when you walk around."

Kicking off with a launch at the offices of startup darling Shopify, this year's festival highlights includeMADE PRIMARY, an exclusive new collection of Toronto-designed products, CU's floor to ceiling copper installation, and a collaboration between Toronto's Mjolk and renowned Japanese designer Oji Masanori.

"The thing I get most excited about are all the independent designers who pair themselves with a business in the local community." says Vandermeij. "It's really heartwarming, and means that the people who live and work in the community are getting to know each other. The designers are demonstrating that investing in an installation has economic impact on their business and teaching them what good design is and how it can change their community." For the first time, TO DO is working with MaRS to produce a symposium on how good design should have social end environmental purposes. "I'm not delusional in that I think design is going to save the world, says Vandermeij. "But it can provide us with tools to potentially survive ourselves and to do a lot of the things we do a lot more efficiently and better."
Tables, Chairs and Other Unrelated Objects 5
"We wanted to bring the city a fun event that makes January exciting and fun. If you come to the festival you will see amazing exciting things. Some will be the most beautiful and some will be experiments that are amazing to see nonetheless. You will get to meet the people who made them."

The In Series exhibition is exemplary of TO DO's mission as it explores the tension between what is considered unique and one-of-a-kind and what we consider mass produced and what repetition brings to any creative process. "That exhibition walks the boundary between art and design and plays with that boundary," says Vandermeij. 
This year, TO DO is offering a free shuttle to take passengers around the city, an app and interactive map, so people can see as many installations as possible. 

Writers: Paul Gallant and Amrita Chandra
Source: Jeremy Vandermeij
Signup for Email Alerts
Signup for Email Alerts