IDS has a new vision shifting its focus from consumers to professionals

“We are brokers of dialogue,” Director of Conference Programming, Ian Chodikoff mentions as he explains the shift in IDS’ (Interior Design Show 2019) current vision. The expanded programming of “bringing people together to experience the power of design” speaks to the new opportunities the show is trying to foster among the industry.

Traditionally, IDS was the place to see the latest trends in the marketplace. It was where all the designers came to get plugged into whatever new was being released to the consumer. Now, with this new mandate, there is a change in culture in the air. Different professions are now coming together to hear one another speak, see what they are producing and understand the global implications we all have with the products we create.

As someone who is not satisfied with the current housing offerings of condos, townhouses and detached homes in the city. Backcountry Hut Company has created a possible solution to home affordability. They have designed a full-scale concept house built on a new “kit-of-parts” approach to small-scale structures. Measuring under 800 square feet and a cost of just over $200K the Great Lakes Cabin presents a modernist interpretation of rustic living with a spirit of the outdoor culture.

From housing to working environments, Think Inside the Box takes into consideration that humans come in all shapes and sizes, with the ability to enjoy a facet of experiences in their daily lives. But when it comes to the workplace, many companies still have a one-size-fits-all standard. WKRkit is a life-size kit-of-parts that can be organized into thousands of configurations according to one’s “workplace personality.” Just take the test and find out which layout is best suited for you. Throughout the show, this workplace will transform into 8 different settings to fit a creator, coworker, socialite, programmer showman, deal maker and multi-talker.

Lastly, Architect Marina Tabassum took the stage to give a keynote presentation entitled Wisdom of the Land. She talked about her country of Bangladesh and how the land and water are almost indistinguishable because of the changing seasons. There’s constant play between these elements. She shared her process behind a resort she built in a very secluded part of Bangladesh where even she felt like a foreigner in her own country when she visited the site. As a trained architect in modern theory, she knew she had to approach this project differently. She took us through her research into finding the ingredients of the land by looking to the existing landscape for inspiration. The result is a very vernacular design based on local traditions, local labour and local materials. She closed her talk reinstating that 21st-century architecture isn’t about serving the 1% who can afford it but making ourselves available to the 99% who can’t afford it.

This is where design should continue to put its stake in the ground. We all have a purpose in this industry. And building on the narrative around the importance of design is something we all have to take on as ambassadors to change the status-quo culture. I would argue that the power of design isn’t just in experiencing it, but through constant engagement, iteration and conversation is where design can truly make a difference.

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Fun House by Snarkitecture is more like a Mad House

Sharing an Uber is always interesting when you tell them where you are going and they call the site a ‘parking lot.’ This is what I experienced on my last trip to Washington, DC.

On a recent trip to Washington, DC, I had the opportunity to visit the National Building Museum to see Snarkitecture’s Fun House which is the Museum’s imaginative Summer Block Party series of temporary structures inside its historic Great Hall.

Curated by Italy-based Maria Cristina Didero, the heart of the exhibition is presented within a Snarkitecture-designed house, aka a white house that recalls and re-imagines the idea of the traditional home. Fun House includes a sequence of interactive rooms featuring well-known Snarkitecture environments and objects, like Dig (2011) and Drift (2012), as well as new concepts developed for the Museum. The rooms throughout the house convey the ten-year story of Snarkitecture while underlining the studio’s peculiar, yet accessible way of reinterpreting the built environment.

This is the set up that was being featured on many architecture blogs and corresponding images. What the writer/blogger/curator neglect to express is that sheer madness that a summer program invites in terms of its visitors aka families and tourists. As an individual that wants to experience as many innovative exhibitions, having to dodge running children, packs of friends taking selfies and the noise of people playing ping pong, basketball with the ping pongs and jumping into the pool of balls is insanity. They should have renamed the exhibition from Funhouse to Madhouse because that’s what it felt like.

I’m all for having the largest amount of people experience new things especially in the world of design and architecture, but ‘interactive’ something goes a little too far when they treat ‘the art’ as a playground. Especially when there is a deep narrative and practice behind the work. But after I was able to get through my snobbiness, I got into just letting loose and getting as many Instagramable moments as I could.

What can I say, at the end of the day, architecture and design is at the mercy of how it interacts with its visitors and how its visitors interpret the space. Sometimes you have to read the narrative and say ‘f*ck it, I’m jumping in the pool, too!’

The Serpentine Pavilion: Unzipped by Bjarke Ingels

Getting the opportunity to design a structure for the Serpentine Pavilion is like the Super Bowl of architecture. I had the pleasure of visiting last year’s pavilion designed by Francis Kere and was so amazed and moved by the space that I honestly could have stayed there for days. 

What I find impressive about the programming is done by the Brits, is that they are always looking for ways to innovate and collaborate on a large scale. 

In 2016, Bjarke Ingels was invited to design the serpentine pavilion which is situated in the middle of Hyde Park in London. “The serpentine gallery is an icon for miniature architectural manifestos and 2/3rds of the architects who have designed the pavilion are Pritzker Prize-winning architect,” as he describes the honour it is to be chosen to design on Netflix’s Abstract: The Art of Design.

Now, we are lucky to have the opportunity to have this structure in our very own backyard. It’s not every day we get to this type of experience. Like most high profile exhibitions, this one is timed and although it seems you can just ‘walk off the street’ you have to buy tickets to see it.

The interior programming of the space has been changed from a bar/performance area to an exhibition space that allows the visitor to learn more about the architect and the proposed condo that is to curtain the street. This was the first time I was aware that we were to have a BIG building in Toronto and immediately registered. Finally, a building that reflects the type of lifestyle I want to live in that is not a ‘glass tower’.

As you approach the entrance to the pavilion, the cavernous form invites you into the structure where you are invited into the mind of Bjarke Ingels. The movement created by the fiberglass grid-like skeleton almost expands and contracts as if it is breathing as you explore and discover the many projects by BIG architects. As grandiose as it appears, it is a very intimate space and when you look up, the ‘unzipped’ feeling emerges. When you exit and get the chance to walk around the pavilion, the shape undulates to mimic a rolling hill and false natural landscape within the dense fabric is it located in.

What can I say, I’m a fan and can’t wait for us to have a truly, unique and innovative building in Toronto.

Why go to architecture school?

Does the school of architecture need an overhaul? Monocle radio recently put the question to the heads of two leading architecture schools: London’s Architectural Association and the Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. Eva Franchi i Gilbert and Amale Andraos sat down for an intimate conversation about the importance of architecture and where they see it heading in the future.

Continue reading “Why go to architecture school?”

Alice in Wonderland – Swiss Pavilion – Venice Architecture Biennale 2018

The Venice Architecture Biennale 2018 opened to the public this past weekend and continues until 25 November 2018.

This year’s biennale is directed by the co-founders of Irish practice Grafton Architects, Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara. The pair selected the title Freespace as the overarching theme for the event. Continue reading “Alice in Wonderland – Swiss Pavilion – Venice Architecture Biennale 2018”

The BIG little house

Have you ever wanted to know what it was like to live in a home designed by a starchitect? Well, this is your chance to live in a tiny home designed by world-renowned architect Bjarke Ingles of BIG.

Continue reading “The BIG little house”

Truly affordable housing

As I realize, that I may never own a home. It made me take a step back and think about what I can afford. I can afford really cheap land (around Hamilton) and because I come from an architecture/interior design background, I can design and build my dream home…on a budget. Continue reading “Truly affordable housing”

Chicago Architecture Biennial announces Co-Curators

The Chicago Architecture Biennial has announced that curator and educator Sepake Angiama, and architect and urbanist Paulo Tavares will be joining the curatorial team of the 2019 Biennial. This is a great move as in the past two editions there have only been artistic directors leading the helm of the showcase. The co-curators will be working with the Yesomi Umolu, who was selected as the Artistic Director last March. Continue reading “Chicago Architecture Biennial announces Co-Curators”

Science and art: creating new immersive environments

What happens when art meets technology? Meet two companies using their specialties in photography and virtual reality to bring viewers inside the works of Damien Hirst and Zaha Hadid. Continue reading “Science and art: creating new immersive environments”