KARIM RASHID at Ocad Professional Gallery (100 McCaul, second level), to January 20. 416-977-6000. Rating: NNN
Chances are you own something designed by Karim Rashid. Walking into this exhibit, I immediately recognized the sleek silver wastebasket I picked up at an Office Depot a few months back. Rashid's work is everywhere, from the housewares section of Wal-Mart to the branding identity that makes Prada Prada.
Like many current trends, Rashid's design sensibility has crept up on us slowly, but you, too, will recognize it immediately when you see it. In his clever melding of high modernist concepts with playful 90s club aesthetics, the cool, contoured, modular forms come alive.
These are objects that look sleek and polished but could easily double as friendly animated mascots on Japanese TV.
This crammed and somewhat frenetic retrospective features his basic motif, the ergonomic blob, worked into a wide variety of household objects. He favours a bright array of electric colours (hot pink, wasabi green, muted silver) and unexpected shapes with whimsical appeal. The entire space, ceiling included, is papered with his psychedelic and clubby visual algorithms.
Rashid seems to be all about range and inventiveness. His curvy brooms, wiggling their way out of their triangular dust pans, are perfect models of new functional silliness, while his black ceramic lamp is a textbook quote of mid-20th-century design.
He can also be judicious and sober. His transparent plastic chair makes planes and lines into something handsome, sturdy and durable.
It's hard, however, to lose the feeling that you're stuck in a frenetic mashup of a Stereolab album cover and Dr. Evil's underground lair.
I wouldn't want Rashid to design my entire world, but I'm keeping my wastebasket.