Sustainable Design Is MIA at Toronto’s Interior Design Show

Jan 30, 2013 Posted by


Whatever happened to sustainable design?

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credit: Lloyd Alter

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Five years ago, a visitor to Toronto’s Interior Design Show would see an entire section of the floor designated for green products. Then you would see every exhibitor showing off their green attributes, everywhere on the floor. The Studio North section promoting new young designers would be full of stuff made from recycled materials.

Not in 2013. Perhaps the only place where there was any attempt to go green was in the DesignBoom Mart. It had a very clever design made out of storage boxes and very rough wood, with some interesting exhibitors.


credit: Lloyd Alter

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Nigel Small of Ndustries had some nice steampunk lighting.


credit: Lloyd Alter/ Mindfull Fabrications

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Toronto’s Mindfull Fabrications presented seriously heavy duty tables and stools, all made from reclaimed lumber and steel.


credit: Lloyd Alter

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This is a clever idea for a healthy salad: Ryann Aoukar designs a juicer right into the ceramic or plastic salad bowl. One less device hanging around the kitchen!

LED lights

credit: Lloyd Alter

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This is clever: LED lights and lamp shades that you stick into an empty wine bottle, powered by a USB connection. I have no name for the designer; he spent ten minutes talking to someone in Korean and never turned his head toward anyone else who had a question or wanted to buy anything.


credit: Lloyd Alter

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Studio North, an area of the Interior Design show where young designers show their work, is often a hotbed of green design. Not this year. I did like this table by Eoeho , who writes:

Realizing that most objects that we encounter on a daily basis do not change on their own, my creations are a solution to an ongoing problem, while maintaining a slight hint of their original purpose.


Aya Kitchen

credit: Lloyd Alter

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On the main show floor, Aya Kitchens showed a new system designed by Johnson Chou that acts as a “modular living system.”

Base consists of a universal base unit upon which living, dining, kitchen, bed, bath and storage components can be plugged into to create flexible, infinitely configurable and expandable living system all within a unifying, minimalist aesthetic. With swiss army knife-like efficiency, the kitchen island features both a concealed cooktop that when revealed provides additional work-surface and a pivoting dining table that can be stored when not in use. The system also features a platform bed and integral headboard that is an extension of the base unit. Base’s efficiency makes it ideal for small spaces, however it’s modularity allows it to expand with the growing needs of a homeowner.

I loved the kitchen table that pivots around the pole and completely disappears.

gautier kids

credit: Lloyd Alter

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I never thought that the fancy and very expensive Italian and French hideaway beds would ever catch on in North America; In Europe, people stay in small apartments all their lives, whereas in North America it is cheaper just to move or add another room.

However, the rep from Gauthier claims more and more people are raising families in Toronto condos and that sales are brisk. Another sign that the suburban dream is dead for many families.

It is interesting when you look at the worldwide map of Gautier stores; they are all over Europe and the middle east, but the Toronto store, in the middle of condoland, is the first in North America.


credit: Lloyd Alter

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Finally, we end up in the IKEA kitchen, which is particularly unimaginative this year, with yet another monster island covered with a total overkill of hanging lights, just like 2011.

The other day I wondered is innovation over? I thought not, but after a day of wandering through the Interior Design Show, I wonder.

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