Taking place in January, the sixth edition of the Toronto Design Offsite Festival (TO DO) became a platform for beautiful making that is community-based and open to everyone. With 78 events, exhibitions, and window installations happening across the city, TO DO embraces all design disciplines and cross-disciplinary collaborations and practices. Festival focuses on innovative and emerging work in industrial design, interior design, site-specific installations, architecture, and graphic design. This is an exciting opportunity for the public to come into direct contact with contemporary design in its diverse forms, for a new generation of designers to get inspired, and to meet local designers and makers, as well as designers from across Canada.

TO DO was founded  with a group of designers and curators in 2010. It stemmed from a desire to create a community around some amazing independent exhibitions, such as Come Up To My Room, Radiant Dark, Capacity and Tools. TO DO started small, we didn’t know we were creating a festival. What we did know was that we wanted to feature and promote what was going on in the city – stress Deborah Wang (Creative Director) and Michael R. Madjus (Communications Coordinator).

This approach can be easily seen during the Festival. TO DO celebrates the unique diversity of Canada’s energetic design scene, providing exposure for the country’s most promising designers and introducing the public to the practice of design. We don’t choose the theme for our exhibitors, we want to be a festival that’s open to all. Also to the unexpected. This can be challenging, especially to maintain a certain level of quality, but it is very rewarding – say D. Wang and M. Madjus.

This year curators’ were very excited about the window installation ‘Outside the Box’, the project based on trust and suprise. Design correspondents from cities across Canada and the U.S. selected pieces to include in their respective boxes, so nobody was sure what will arrive until show starts. Libs Elliott pushed boundaries of the design at this years TO DO – he used generative design to build handmade quilts. What does that mean? The quilt designs are made using a programming language called Processing, so not only is each quilt handmade, each quilt also bears a unique composition. The product that seems to continually amaze is the slip-cast porcelain work of Jeremy Hatch. Jeremy casts everyday objects – often ones that are robust and durable, such as woven rope or a sink – out of porcelain, defying our material expectations.

Toronto is the perfect place to host the festival because Canadian design has a lot of roots here. The best city to show contemporary design is one that is “home” to the creative people and institutions, but also a city that is adaptable, offers new possibilities and allows for interaction and growth – say D. Wang and M. Madjus. With a very positive reception from the community and abundance of enthusiasm the Festival have been able to grow exponentially. One key difficulty is funding. While organizers haven’t fully overcome this hurdle yet, they are optimistic and continue to work hard to both produce a top-notch festival and secure on-going funding sources – two aspects which they feel will continue to feed each other. A new sponsorship from Keilhauer gives new confidence in this respect.

Hope to see you there next year!