The Design Exchange, Canada's iconic design museum, unveiled a fresh new look last Friday at their relaunch gala, the DX Intersection. It was an ambitious jump-start to what promises to be a programmed-packed year for the museum, which seeks to establish itself as a cornerstone in the Canadian design community.
Even the most discerning partygoer was sure to be impressed by the event. The DX team pulled out all the stops with an Ikea sponsored silent auction, performance art, fanciful food, hip music and an amusement park-style raffle where popped balloons would reveal a bevy of prizes. Attendees were encouraged to explore all three levels of Toronto's original stock exchange, where an unpredictable experience was planned at every turn.
On the original trading floor, guests were greeted with a larger-than-life installation entitled Black Friday by multimedia artist Niall McClelland and Toronto-based artist and musician Alex Durlak. The creative duo filled the vast space with thousands of graphic newspapers, broadsheet murals, projections and suspended trellises adorned with illuminated papers. The installation served as a striking canopy over top a sea of guests who danced, drank and hobnobbed throughout the space.
In both scale and pattern, McClelland and Durlak found inspiration from both our current economics and the efforts of Charles Comfort, the artist who crafted the building's iconic frieze.
Back at ground level, Ikea presented Auktion, their collaboration with 20 designers who were given a $500 budget to recreate and deconstruct Ikea products into their own unique creations. The challenge was a nod to the popular blog, Ikea Hackers.
H&H's own Mark Challen and Suzanne Dimma designed The Game Changer, a sleek and contemporary take on the classic ping-pong table. The challenge: "To design a piece that would make a bold, contemporary statement and be as playful as the game itself." Their mod table was outfitted with two Ikea Docksta table bases and a custom high-gloss playing surface, an undeniably stylish piece.
Davide Tonizzo covertly re-tooled classic Ikea untreated pine boards into the famous Tony Manero Saturday Night Fever pose for his piece called You Can Dance. Inspired by Swedish design, Tonizzo's ode to ABBA and the glorious days of disco are front and centre in his playful piece. The designer showcases quintessential Ikea design by using "clever modular furniture with minimal, geometric but ridged forms."
Toronto-based fashion designer Philip Sparks found inspiration in an act that strikes fear into many a man — tying a bow tie. Philip captured this universal anxiety by bringing together 50 Ikea cord sets and bulbs into one large bow tie knot entitled, How to Tie a Bow Tie. The outcome is an incredibly dramatic tangle of light.
Knob Portrait: Mayor Ford by Paul Raff Studio brought in the highest bid at the auction for $3,000. Inspired by Andy Warhol's celebrity portraits, the piece was made up of 983 Ikea cabinet doorknobs, placing Toronto's mayor in the limelight once again.
Advertising agency spinoff Sid Lee Collective took inspiration from within. Their piece entitled Spela ("play" in Swedish) was an homage to the agency's collaborative approach to creativity. Their interactive installation incorporated music and miniature orbs of recognizable characters (including Kanye West and Lady Gaga) that lit up and played music as you moved them around the table.
Toronto's Mason Studio acknowledged the elephant in the room. The inventive group worked with a familiar Ikea property, repurposing the classic Frakta blue carryall into an adorable piece entitled, what else, Elephant in the Room.
These are only a handful of my favourite pieces from the Ikea Auktion. A number of the other playful designs can be found here with full descriptions from the designers.
DX Intersection brought design to life with an evening full of imagination and unexpected surprises. An impressive starting point to the DX's relaunch, the night offered a peek into the future of DX's offerings. If the gala was any indication, the new direction will be forward-thinking, contemporary and full of new energy. I, for one, am excited to see where they take it.
1-9. Joel Hunking