Design blow-up

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Interior design used to be dominated by blown-out decorators in cheetah-print coats sponge-painting feature walls peach and proclaiming that “a little touch of Santa Fe” was all that was missing from your powder room. No more! This weekend’s glut of design shows proves that T.O.’s alt and established interiors scene is clever, directional and downright good-looking. Here’s our guide to seeing it all.

COME UP TO MY ROOM

Friday to Sunday (February 22 to 24), Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen West, www.gladstonehotel.com), $6.50 admission includes show catalog.

The concept: Parkdale curating dream team Christina Zeidler and Pamela Matharu hand-pick a group of alt-talents and let their design schemes run wild on the Gladstone’s second floor. Magic Pony takes inspiration from pysanky, traditional Ukrainian Easter eggs, and assembles a folksy collective space celebrating spring. Stacking-happy artist-in-residence Bruno Billio collaborates with Mahan Javadi to fill his studio with tactile green laser light.

Look for: For its fifth year, Come Up To My Room brings back designer alumni like Dennis Lin, who reflects on his past two appearances with a showcase of new works-in-progress. Other comebacks include Brothers Dressler and Covello Reesor.

Shop op: Motherbrand’s Souvenir Shop returns stocked with Canadian designer-created wares including Ola Rahatka’s Trudeau dolls and Anneke van Bommel’s wood and silver antler rings. After Come Up To My Room wraps, the boutique will become a permanent fixture at the Gladstone, and products will also be available online at www.thesouvenirshop.ca.

The party: The free LoveDESIGN party starts at 10 pm on Saturday (February 23). Designsters booze and shuffle in the Gladstone ballroom under Castor’s glowing sculptural saucers.

RADIANT DARK

Julie Nicholson and Shaun Moore (above) debut designer pieces like Agostinis &amp Harrison’s “Where does lumber come from mommy?” bench at Radiant Dark.

presented by Made (www.madedesign.ca/radiantdark), through Wednesday (February 27), Burroughes Building (639 Queen West), free admission.

The concept: Made’s Shaun Moore and Julie Nicholson corral a motley mix of Toronto’s emerging talents into a 6,000-square-foot celebration of the clearly Canadian school of design. There are outdoorsy references galore in pieces like Agostinis & Harrison’s Where Does Lumber Come From, Mommy? bench, with its carved plank seat emerging from a raw walnut stump. Less obviously Canuck-ified items still feel patriotic with their mashups of diverse design disciplines and sustainable materials.

Look for: Katy Chan takes her colourful felt work to the wall with a series of nappy Mondrian-inspired panels. Victoria Gudgeon twists a disposable tradition by creating ceramic Royal Chinet plates. Joy Charbonneau proves an artful take on our bomb-scared culture doesn’t have to be tacky with her This Is A Vase glass vessel.

Shop op: Some exhibit items are for sale, but Made (867 Dundas West, 416-607-6384) is a quick 10-minute walk away and stocks many Radiant Dark designers year round.

The party: Was last night, but you can always show up on closing day with a bottle of bubbly to toast Moore and Nicholson’s Can-do spirit.

INTERIOR DESIGN SHOW

Ryerson’s Yellow Pages space, THOUT’s bean bench and Loyal Loot Collective’s log bowls add an indie twist to the IDS.

Thursday to Sunday (February 21 to 24), Direct Energy Centre (Exhibition Place, www.interiordesignshow.com), public days (February 23 and 24) admission $16 online/$18 at the door.

The concept: The city’s celebrity decorators including House & Home’s Lynda Reeves, beige baron Brian Gluckstein and the Designer Guys 2.0 offer daily seminars in the middle of 300 home improvement booths at the 10th instalment of the IDS. Feature exhibits including Collaborations (where four architecture firms work with a new material to create a mod space) and Studio North (a showroom of available-by-commission furniture and accessories) keep interior design fans aesthetically stimulated.

Look for: The 10 Innovative Canadian Designers exhibit amps up the IDS’s indie cred with products from Loyal Loot Collective, Molo Design and Massie Office. Accidental design idol Tom Dixon flies in to talk and take in the scene including student installations by George Brown, Sheridan, OCAD, Ryerson, Humber and the University of Alberta.

Shop op: The Shop Design booth includes wares from local retailers like Urban Mode, Fluf and Kush Home. Fashion designer Olena Zylak debuts her new home accessories line in the space.

The party: Tonight’s (Thursday, February 21) Decadence-themed opening gala sees the cream of T.O.’s design crop and fans out for a Sarah Richardson sighting swan through brightly lit booths and queue up for wine samples and canapés. Tickets are $55 at the door.

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