The best events at TO DO 2017, the Toronto Design Offsite Festival

Discover the world of scent design at The Sniff Bar, meet the "original professional IKEA hacker" and see how the world's top fashion designers conceive of work uniforms

Each year, deep in the winter months, the Toronto Design Offsite Fest transforms the city into a design wonderland for anyone who appreciates thoughtful design, innovative interiors or just wants to support Toronto’s rich community of makers.

Here are this year’s highlights:

The Sniff Bar @ Oben Flats Leslieville

Do certain scents transport you to another time or place, or make you feel a certain way? (When I smell a certain Herbal Essences shampoo, I feel a pit of dread of  Perfumer and scent designer Tracey Pepe introduces the art of scent design in this interactive scent installation that promises to “open your creativity well beyond your imagination.” More info.


Vaporware by Kaley Flowers @ Likely General

Ceramics meet technology in this show that explores the anxiety some of us experience when we’re away from our gadgets and networks, along with the wish to disconnect more often. More info.

IKEA Hacking: the cure for the common designer 

Toronto’s Karol Kosnik says he’s the world’s first professional IKEA hacker – one who uses IKEA products and packaging differently from the way they were intended, or one who doesn’t follow the assembly instructions. Kosnik reflects on a decade of IKEA hacks and how the trend came to be. More info.

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Michael Fohring’s Pet Furniture

Michael Fohring’s Pet Furniture @ Helen + Hildegard

Alien and organic, these pieces riff on familiar animal forms while amplifying the idea that inanimate objects have feelings, personalities or souls. Can a piece of furniture also be a loyal friend? More info.


Workwear @ Harbourfront

The high fashion world has long had connections to the working world (see Balmain’s 1968 flight attendant uniform designs for Singapore Airlines, for example), but what if designers had free rein? In Workwear, designers like Issey Miyake and Vivienne Westwood show off their conceptions of a work uniform. More info. Don’t miss the talk on Friday with curator Alessandro Guerriero, and the accompanying winter exhibitions at Harbourfront.


Student work galore

See Canada’s newest design stars at various locations: Fleming College’s Integrated Design class will show off their work, inspired by the “stuff” we create, consume and dispose of York/Sheridan’s Design class of 2017 will show off their plans for their spring showcase at Gallery 50 the Gladstone hosts the sixth edition of Tables, Chairs & Other Related Objects by OCAD students.

Come Up To My Room @ the Gladstone

You never really know what you’re going to get each year at Come Up To My Room, where designers and collectives transform each of the hotel rooms at the Gladstone into, well, whatever immersive experience they so desire. And that’s exactly why I try to go every year. Arrive with no expectations, and you’re bound to discover something surprising and exciting. This year’s theme is TransplantMore info. Don’t miss the Love Design Party or the Outside the Box exhibition.

Upcycled and recycled paradise

Wood-lovers: poke around the Brothers Dressler’s Sterling Road studio and learn more about small-scale manufacturing pieces made with new and recycled materials The Toronto Designers Market hosts Adam Fullerton’s Upcycled, an installation of glorious upcycled pieces by the designer.


Gweilo is an award-winning collection of lights by LightForm and PARTISANS.


Once you’ve seen one of these Gweilo sculptural acrylic lights, the first question you’re likely to ask is, “But… how?” At LightForm’s Gweilo launch party, lights will be hand-sculpted alongside guests, so you can experience the process for yourself. More info.


Orange Crush by Lorna Livey

Design in Printmaking @ Open Studio 

Prints are one of the most affordable ways to get original artwork on your walls, and lucky for you, Open Studio represents more than 150 Canadian artists who produce them. Take in an exhibition featuring work by Lorna Livey, Laurynas Navidauskas, Shogo Okada and Yorodeo, tour the facilities, learn about different methods of printmaking and then browse the shop. 

See the complete list of TO DO ’17 events here. | @katierowboat

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