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Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Interior Design Show, 2011

Trade Talks
We attended Trade Day at IDS11 on Friday past. (Minds out of the gutters right now, please- you know who you are!!) Trade Day is the day when only professionals get into the show, and there is always a raft of interesting guest speakers talking about their work. This year's lineup was: Thom Mayne, a founder of LA-based architectural company Morphosis; Michael Young, a British- bred Hong Kong- based industrial designer; and Jean-Marie Massaud, a free-thinking multidisciplinary French designer.

Thom Mayne is a sort of "anti-stylist" whose buildings are shaped by the process of responding to context & program. A hallmark of many of the projects he shared with us is the creation of large amorphic voids of negative interior space, which end up essentially transforming themselves into positive objects. A concern he voiced is that the speed of evolution of ideas has far outstripped our speed of construction, rendering buildings virtually obsolete by the time they are completed. A take-home message for us was his assertion that Cartesian models of order have been exhausted and that the new system of order is biological. This is recognizable in his Pharé Tower in Paris, which is soon to begin construction.
 Image courtesy Morphopedia/ Morphosis Architects
Michael Young struggled with jet lag to give a coherent talk, but managed to impart his need to be located right  at the source of production in order to thrive. In the same vein as Thom Mayne, he expressed frustration with the time lag between European "idea factories" and Asian production facilities; this is what drove him to decamp to Hong Kong a number of years ago, where he now seamlessly integrates his design process with the development of new manufacturing techniques. Mr. Young is a bit of a "rock star" designer, a man who has become his own brand and therefore brings a marketable caché to his clients. One of his successes is that he has served as a bridge for his Asian clients to access the corridors of coolness in the West. A hallmark project was his transformation of the Giant bicycle company from a solely sports-performance based brand to one that is now equally a lifestyle brand via his Citystorm urban bicycle line.
 Image courtesy designws.com

 Image courtesy Fine And Rare Blog
Jean-Marie Massaud is a highly entertaining (if somewhat difficult to understand) Frenchman whose real talent seems to be his ability to formulate Big Ideas. Despite unfortunate technology glitches during his lecture his animation saved the day, and the few Big Idea projects we were able to see clearly were impressive in their originality. When hired to design something he knows little about, he heads right back to basics, virtually reinventing the wheel. Rather than assist in the plundering of pristine landscapes for new large scale resorts, he developed a concept for a high tech flying airship resort! And rather than plunk down a huge stadium surrounded by empty parking lots in a poorer area of Guadalajara Mexico, he created a "volcano" in a park that gives the neighbours desirable green space.
 Top image from Dezeen
Lower image courtesy via,fr
Aside from their all being intricately involved in the lightning-speed world of new ideas, and playing in the huge sandbox that is China, the common element  amongst these three gentlemen struck us as being their outsider personalities. Each has forged an identity and  developed an impressive body of work by following his own non-conforming path. Of course this is not a surprise- this is usually the nature of innovators- but it does provide inspiration on a winter's day away from the office.

The Show
Between speakers we were able to take in the showroom floor. IDS, as opposed to its autumn counterpart IIDEX- Neocon Canada which historically has served the commercial design community, is decidedly residential in its focus. We were surrounded by sleek and sexy kitchen cabinets, outrageous appliances, bathtubs requiring structural floor support, and acres of fireplace concepts. Within this milieu, however, IDS always features up and coming designers in an area called Studio North, and within that a small area called Prototype. This, and another small section devoted to the work of design students, is where we find our interest. Below are some of the pieces that caught our eye.
And outside of all the home appliances, we were struck by a few other stand-out offerings like these beautiful tables and the colourful Guyanese chairs.

The After Party
After the show closed we attended a party in what is to us the city's best new furniture store- Avenue Road. A fabulous space- an old industrial structure given a restrained and tasteful make-over by Yabu Pushelberg- was filled with a superbly edited collection of furniture. Being a key sponsor of Mr. Massaud, Avenue Road prominently featured pieces from his new collection "Glass".
And our hearts raced when we spied these beautiful Brazilian pieces by iconic designer Sérgio Rodrigues.

So, while not the best roster of speakers to have ever graced their stage, all in all IDS11was a wonderful day of inspiration and a welcome break from the late- January work week! The show is open to the public this weekend and closes this evening at 6:00PM.

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