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Style From IDS to Design TO: How Toronto celebrates its latest and greatest in design

As the end of January nears each year, design takes over Toronto. With this, a plethora of parties pop up around the city to laud the latest and greatest interior offerings and the creators at the core of the industry. Of this year’s agenda, four gatherings were particularly of note. It all began on Jan. 17 with the perennially well-populated opening-night party for the Interior Design Show (IDS). DJ Miguel Migs helped set the celebratory tone to kick off the 21st edition, which was brimming with site-specific installations. These included the Great Lakes Cabin, this year’s concept house (a rather compact one, at only 670 square feet), designed by Leckie Studio, and the four common spaces that dotted the show, created by Berlin-based studio toi toi toi. The fair’s national director (IDS West happens in the fall) Karen T. Kang, fashion designer Zac Posen (the Monogram Appliances spokesperson served smiles and pizza at its booth) and show fixture Karim Rashid were among those who came out.

That same evening, a little further west in the city, the Gladstone Hotel hosted its 16th-annual Come Up to My Room, an exhibition that takes four floors of the hotel and transforms them into an immersive light- and sound-filled extravaganza. Highlights of the 20 projects by more than 50 artists included a geometry-centric installation titled Connect, by Safoura Zahedi, a village of sculptures stacked on milk crates by Becky Lauzon, Johnny Cann and Michael Rennick, which projected shadows onto the surrounding walls and a neon-trimmed and black-lit space titled TRON209 by the hotel’s resident artist Bruno Billio.

The next evening, a dinner hosted by Caesarstone was the big ticket. Each year the quartz purveyor collaborates with a designer of international acclaim on its IDS booth: This year the result was a sea of ribbons masterminded by Dutch “eating designer” Marije Vogelzang that explored food’s link to human connection. The space also served as the inspiration for a dinner on Jan. 18 inside the city’s historic Fermenting Cellar for a dozen or so tables of design aficionados. Jeweller Myles Mindham collaborated on the soiree, offering up some captivating crystal specimens that served as glittering centrepieces and added a dose of the natural to the otherwise sparse space. Out at that one: philanthropist Emmanuelle Gattuso, Empire Communities Inc. co-founder Andrew Guizzetti and his wife, Marianne; and interior decorator Ryan Korban (who joined Globe and Mail style contributor Randi Bergman on the big stage at IDS the next day for a Q&A).

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Capping off the evening was the launch party for Design TO, Canada’s biggest design celebration, which features some 100 exhibitions and events throughout the city over a 10-day period. Seen in the crowd at the historic St. Lawrence Hall: Dominique Di Libero and Emily Allan, creators of the pink plastic inflatable installation at the centre of the gathering, and Design TO executive director Jeremy Vandermeij and artistic director Deborah Wang. All proceeds from the event supported the non-profit festival.

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