Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Toronto Design Week 2017 - Reflections - a Wall of Text [Part A]

Chapter 1 - Toronto Design Offsite Festival - I did it!

Usually in the past, as a side actor - I remember having my written pieces published by ToDo before; helping a friend with an install and a takedown for Come Up To My Room, or even with a build, it's all good times - this year I actually did something. 

I put on a symposium - first one ever - IKEA Hackers Symposium. It was a huge success! I initially feared the worse - low turn out. Believe me - it sucks when nobody shows up to your opening - there were offers of 'fillers', but I kindly declined. The option of RSVP kept me aware of how much demand there was for my offering. 

Instead, on the day of, the venue was packed. We were at capacity - people were standing outside! Few days earlier I was interviewed by CBC Metro Morning host Matt Galloway [prime spot too! 8:20am! - on air I said, 'I know that it sounds ambitious, but we will make Design history'. Mr. Gallowy said he liked that - influencing design history. The phone calls started immediately - old clients texted and emailed - loved the interview. Then the requests for quotes poured in - people completely disregarded my system - yea, that's right, I have a system - a quick way to generate quotes. 

Than that night, CBC Television did a segment - including a 2 min clip of 'me in action' - those 2 minutes were a result of a 2 hr shoot! Yea - an hour per minute! Not including the awesome editing and putting it all together - it was good. 

Blog is exploding. YouTube channel - ppl are subscribing - it's bare bones there - so I definitely have to improve my media game. 

Yep. Things are exciting. 

But amongst all that excitement there has been deep reflection. I find it curious - everything that happens around the globe - political, environmental, social events - I always frame within the 'IKEA ecosystem' - how will it affect IKEA's** global sourcing.  So for starters  - the election of Donald Trump and his radical views - and now actions too! - on issues such as trade, human rights or monetary policy - they are frighting. And then I thought about Canada and that dark Conservative veil that was just recently lifted with the election of Justin Trudeau - a promising young - handsome too - leader. Canada it seems to be in stark contrast to the United States - with its open, accepting and tolerant policies. Whereas I considered 'moving to Canada' before the election of Trump, a bit of a joke - now it seems that we - us as a society - Canada - may become a destination - a mecca of sort* - for those seeking higher liberties. 

Can we help out our American brothers and sisters who are in need? What can we offer them? Can we offer them shelter from uncertainty about their future? Can we offer them opportunities that they are getting denied in their own country? Can we offer them real, meaningful, personally fulfilling work?

You know what? Talk is cheap - a direct action is better. I met a young industrial designer at the opening party for ToDo. I am sitting on a bench in a church, giant install in front of me, quiet spot - and I meet this guy! What?! Trying to escape Trump?!

I think the install worked; it created nice individual zones; I did not feel like having music blasted at me and so I just chilled on a bench in the 'private area'. 



Hailing from the States, Ivan McCuistion is a new designer in Toronto. While admitting recent political developments are reinforcing, when I met him he was quick to point out he fell in-love with Toronto last February on a visit. “There are happy, healthy people here. Toronto is thriving and functional in many ways! It’s liberating, it’s how I work and feel. It felt like home.” Crashing with a good friend, Ivan made the move in October.

After getting settled, he joined the designer coworking space The Station. Ivan’s been investing in his own work and portfolio heavily as he’s looking to launch his design career in the city. He’s created ‘living’ mood lamps, minimalist bags, and loves to take his work into functional prototypes.

“I’m really keen on experience.” he says “There’s so much I want fix, and when I create, I know I get into subtleties that are beyond some. But I believe—cognisant or not—great experiences can be intuitively appreciated.”

Ivan was out at many Design Offsite Festival events, and they offered a range of subtle to lurid experiences. This was his first design festival in Toronto or beyond. After attending the symposium talks, Ivan has written about his most provocative experiences from #TODO17.

Cool guy. Easy to talk to. Smart. Yeezus, these are the types of American imports we want to have here in Canada - a brain drain in reverse!


*whoa! see what I did there!

**IKEA will hire about 200 refugee women to create a textile line - for distribution within immediate geographic area - meaning we can't purchase those here, in Canada, for example.