Toronto’s Design Scene Demos How to Boost Your Home’s Design Cred

For those of us who take home comfort seriously, cold-weather hibernation can bring about many uncomfortable domestic epiphanies. As our time spent indoors increases, we suddenly become aware of our overly cluttered desk setup, or how dated our floor lamp looks, or the sad gaps left behind by all those boxed-away holiday decorations.

For fresh inspiration, we’ve been looking to DesignTO — a two-week Toronto festival that acts as a showcase for both established and emerging design industry talent. Some of its events serve as launches for new product, while others unveil one-of-a-kind prototypes that may become available for purchase in the future. More than anything, the festival casts a useful spotlight on the design talent that had otherwise been flying under our radar. After all, we may already know the names of the gurus of mid-century modern design, but there is a whole generation of contemporary visionaries at work on establishing a design legacy of its own.

Here are four highlights of this year’s festival that led us to develop a fresh appreciation for the conceptual, sculptural, and functional beauty of great design. We’ll keep you posted about what kind of impact they have on our cluttered desk situation.

Shown above: Gasket Vessels by Tom Chung.


This Is Some Louvre Shit

What to Admire:

Let’s start by stating the obvious: Thrush Holmes has the best exhibition name in the festival. Inspired by the Louvre, the designer assembled a vibrant pyramid from two hundred stacked Russian birch blocks, each splatter-painted using recharged fire extinguishers. Another, upside-down pyramid built from frames of neon hovers over the structure, bringing a rave-like glow to the show’s opening night party.

On display until January 25 by appointment.

What to Buy Afterwards:

Each of the exhibition’s cubes is available for purchase through New Auction — giving you a chance to own a one-of-a-kind nightstand that effectively captures the energy of a wild night out.

$350 at


Aluminum Group

What to Admire:

Organized by MSDS Studio and Jamie Wolfond, this exhibition collected a wide assortment of products all produced in, you guessed it, aluminum. Designs for everything from a table lamp modelled after a screw (by Wolfond) to a minimalist telescope (by Castor Design) demonstrated both the metal’s attractive anodized finish and the way that easily it can be shaped into smooth curves. While the show was a one-weekend only affair, you can revisit many of the designs in Dezeen’s recap post.

On display until Jan 20 at Erin Stump Projects.

What to Buy Afterwards:

While some of the designs on view (like Lukas Peet’s pepper grinder) are available for special order through their designers, we’re confident that other concepts might eventually make it into mass production — particularly Tom Chung’s industrial Gasket Vessels. In the meantime, the show drove us to reconsider other aluminum offerings from the show’s participants that are already on the market. Chung, for instance, is also the designer behind Muuto’s playful Beam lamp.

$395 at


Mjölk 10 Year Anniversary

What to Admire:

This design shop has developed an international following thanks to its serene, hygge-meets-zen vision of what a home should be. While Mjölk started 10 years ago by stocking the best of Japanese and Scandinavian brands, it’s evolved to collaborate with a who’s who of tony designers on custom pieces exclusive to the store — a copper watering can by duo Anderssen & Voll, for instance, or brass fire tools by Thom Fougere.

On display until 26 at Mjölk, 2959 Dundas St W

What to Buy Afterwards:

This year’s anniversary show saw the launch of additional offerings, including a standout brass pepper-mill by Japanese metalworker Oji Masanori.

$295 at


Anony & Castor Design

What to Admire:

Canadian furniture makers EQ3 used DesignTO to preview an upcoming collection of mirrors developed using the math concept of “a curve of constant width” by Toronto’s Castor Design. But the real fun came courtesy of an experimental bike that the studio had fitted with similarly shaped wheels. Yes, you can ride it. During the unveiling, Castor also revealed that they’re currently at work on a series of weed gear for a side-hustle of Seth Rogen. High design — in more ways than one.

On display until January 26 at EQ3, 222 King St East

What to Buy Afterwards:

The mirrors are set to launch at EQ3 this spring alongside new lights from Toronto studio Anony.