It's all well and good being a professional designer or artist until a group of nine-year-olds comes along and shows you up. Room For Chairs: The Next Generation Of Canadian Designers, curated by OCAD teacher Todd Falkowsky for the Design Exchange, reveals the raw talent of Kathleen Schratz's grade 3 class at Ryerson Community Public School. What they lack in formal skill they more than make up for in imagination. From preliminary sketch to final product, there's a whole bunch of good ideas and remarkably good design sense. Twenty-one wee chairs are on display just metres away from a series of chairs from Canadian design history. By comparison, the adult chairs are so b-o-o-o-oring.
Young Eric Huynh has designed a delicate chair out of egg cartons and aluminum foil, while Aaron Chow has achieved a similar effect with duct tape, cardboard tubes and fake red fur. Nasin Tafader created a simple chair with wrapping paper and some help from his mom because he forgot about the project and had to rush to finish it on time.
Falkowsky himself was obviously inspired by the developing minds around him. He came up with a chair made of dozens of stuffed animals attached to a metal frame, allowing someone to rest against a plush dairy cow while sitting on a blue rabbit holding a carrot.
Recycling and reusing here aren't buzzwords but the most natural way to make things that are meaningful. A love for shoes resulted in Nasir Hashimi's shoebox chair. Leraldo Dixon's chair is made of a pizza box because, you guessed it, he likes pizza.
The artist statements are sincere, and you don't need a degree in art history and a dictionary to understand the motivation behind the work. In what gallery would you find such an honest and succinct expression as "I decided to make my chair because it was boring in my house so I built it"?
If you're lucky, maybe one day you'll be able to purchase a chair like Michael Nguyen's The Stickers Of Death Chair so your house won't be so boring.
Room for Chairs at the Design Exchange (234 Bay) to February 7. 416-216-2160. Rating: NNNN