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Design : Innovation + Job News

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Canada's largest design conference seeks innovative presenters

Innovators and idea people with good strategies or techniques for building a better, greener city have a unique opportunity to reach influential industry players by presenting a seminar at IIDEX/NeoCon's Green Building Festival and Light Canada. The organization that runs the country's largest design and architecture conference has issued a call for presentations.

The Green Building Festival, now in its fifth year, is the largest exposition on sustainable building, and according to the IIDEX website, the emphasis is on "cutting-edge innovation, technical detail and measurable results."

The call for presentations reads, "If you have an interesting presentation or an idea that could be developed into an educational session, you are invited to submit an on-line proposal. Conference speakers gain visibility in the industry, as well as contribute to the advancement of the profession." Anyone with an innovative green building concept or business looking to gain widespread exposure can read the details and apply here. A review of last year's show, for those looking to get a sense of what it's all about and whether their presentation would be a good fit, is here.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: IIDEX/NeoCon

Cycling innovators vroomen.white.design take Canadian Innovation Award for manufacturer of the year

Fifteen years ago, Toronto engineers Phil White and Gerard Vroomen of vroomen.white.design began designing and manufacturing racing bicycles under the brand name Cervelo. Today, still owned by White and Vroomen, North York-based Cervelo is the world's largest manufacturer of time trial and triathalon bikes, with Tour de France and Iron Man trialthalon victories and Olympic gold medals won on its bicycles.

Last week, Vroomen and White were honoured at the Canadian Innovation Awards as Canadian Manufacturer of the Year in recognition of their world-leading technology and innovative leadership.

According to the company, Cervelo was founded in a pure quest for innovations that would lead to racing excellence. "We wanted something that was unbeatable in aerodynamics yet sacrificed nothing in weight or stiffness, and unfettered by issues of marketability," reads a company history on its website. Today, with eight engineers in its employ and selling more than 10,000 units per year, the same spirit is visible in their philosophy. "We apologize in advance if our ads look like they were written by engineers," they write. "We figured you would rather read an ad designed by an engineer than ride a bike designed by the marketing department."

Currently most of Cervelo's manufacturing takes place in Asia, but recently White told the Toronto Star that they intend to begin manufacturing bikes at their North York facility within the next two years.

Four other Ontario companies were honoured at the Canadian Innovation Awards, including Scarborough Tim Hortons franchisee Megleen Inc, who won the Canadian Innovation Award for Innovator of the Year.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Sources: Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, Cevelo, Toronto Star

Context Creative grows by 3 employees despite shakey economy

Established in 2001, Context Creative serves clients both near and far, delivering integrated design and communications campaigns on the Web, in email, TV, print, direct mail and outdoor.

The firm's clientele range from Ontario Government ministries to the private sector and not-for-profit organizations. Context Creative provides graphic design, copywriting, illustration and photography, project management and production services for corporate communications, advertising, brand design, and integrated campaigns.

Despite a shaky economy, Context Creative is growing: the last 12 months it added three full-time positions for a total of 12 employees. The firms says it is cautiously optimistic that Toronto's economy will continue to improve across many sectors and that demand for innovation, creative-thinking, and graphic design services will continue to rise.

To that end, Lionel Gadoury, the principal and director of creative services at Context Creative, says Toronto is a hotbed for graphic design talent and a city that's always open to new businesses and service offerings.

"Toronto is Canada's design hub," he said. "Most of the (graphic design) industry is based in Toronto and it's a huge advantage to other businesses located here."

In 1996, he said the Ontario Government passed recognition for Toronto-based RGDO to confer professional status on its members once they meet required qualifications and pass an examination. That's unique, as it puts the province and Toronto in particular at the forefront of continuing to develop a truly professional graphic design community, he remarked.

"More often these days we're called in to answer business challenges," Gadoury said. "Companies are either looking to break into new markets, lower their costs of communicating with their customers, and/or to gain market share.

"In many sectors of the economy where products and service have become highly commoditized, brand is the key differentiator."

Meanwhile, the company is breaking new ground by incorporating a not-for-profit foundation, New World Now Cultural Promotions Inc.

"Our first project underway is Trails of 1812, a program which promotes tourism, the arts, culture and healthy lifestyle activities in Ontario," he added. "It is an example of innovative thinking that goes beyond the typical client-service provider model. It builds on our expertise working with the Ontario Trails Council and various government ministries and brings together the private sector, NGOs and government."

Writer: Liam Lahey

Eventscape structure for success

Eventscape's success can be tied to quality talent and customers from near and far that regard Toronto as a world-class city. So too can it be tied to the vision of its CEO and founder, Gareth Brennan, who was recently named the CEO of the Year at the national Design Exchange Awards.
Established in 1993, Eventscape started out in Brennan's basement. It has since grown by leaps and bounds, employing 70 people at its 70,000-square-foot facility on Bestobell Road. The designer and manufacturer of top quality, custom structures serves the exhibit and architectural markets. Ninety per cent of the projects Eventscape completes are permanent architectural solutions that take on any form, using any material, and are built on any scale.
A quick peek at some of Eventscape's clientele reveals how well-regarded it is: the firm has done work at the White House in Washington, D.C., at Lester B. Pearson International Airport for Pope John Paul II's 2002 visit, and for past U.S. Open tennis tournaments.
"We've got some of the best, most creative people in the world living and working here; some of the top architects and designers," Brennan said. "When we exhibit internationally, Toronto has a great reputation (for its creative industry) . . . we're close to all of the major design destinations in the U.S. and shipping is highly affordable and reliable into the U.S."
In mid-2009, Brennan founded a second business in Toronto called Troop. He said he uses it as an artistic outlet, designing avant-garde furniture pieces and sculptures.
"It's focused on manufacturing limited editions of sculptures and works of art; it's my passion at the moment," he said. "It's my creative outlet and a means to keep on challenging myself."

Writer: Liam Lahey
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