Toronto’s design scene is thriving: the city is home to over 24,000 designers and 4,300 manufacturing firms. We boast some of the most respected high-quality office manufacturers in the world and a healthy community of craftspeople-makers working in ceramics, textiles and small-batch furniture.But the city still presents challenges to design brands aiming to expand their manufacturing prowess while keeping production local. And yet many are doing it — from big guns like Teknion to smaller outfits like Hollis + Morris and Paolo Ferrari.
What does it take to design and make things in Toronto? What kinds of resources — from metal factories to advanced manufacturing tools — are these labels tapping into? What level of quality, not to mention street cred, do they establish by keeping a tight geographical footprint? For IDS Toronto’s Trade Day, Azure Talks convenes a panel of established and rising brands that have found success making entire lighting and furniture collections in Toronto. They are:
As Vice President of Design and Innovation at Teknion, Steve Verbeek is responsible for creating and evolving the strategic product design direction for all categories of Teknion’s comprehensive furniture portfolio worldwide. Verbeek leads Teknion’s corporate design teams to research and develop creative new workplace products, often in collaboration with invited international designers, and multi-disciplinary development teams. He has designed many significant new products that have contributed to Teknion’s award-winning portfolio of innovative products that transform the look and feel of today’s workplace.
Mischa Couvrette credits his inherent knack for building for the international success of Hollis + Morris. Since establishing the brand five years ago, he has shown his collections – including such memorable pieces as the Willow pendants, Oldtown Stool and Pier Dining Table – both at home in Toronto and at design fairs like New York’s ICFF. Couvrette’s designs display an unwavering truth to materials – a reflection of his straight-shooting nature – and building Hollis + Morris (named after a Halifax intersection where he once lived as a Dalhousie marine biology major) as a brand has revealed both his unique creativity and extraordinary ambition.
The founder of the eponymous Studio Paolo Ferrari focuses both on objects and interiors, and is at work in projects throughout North American and the Middle East. Throughout his career, Ferrari has worked with luxury heavyweights including Four Seasons, Viceroy Hotels and Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH). The studio’s work emerges through the pursuit of inventive and resonant concepts, led by design strategy, refinement and integrity. At its most fundamental, it believes that design is about celebrating the human experience.
An emerging Toronto lighting and product design studio, Anony counts local manufacturing capabilities and the latest technologies as elemental to its design process. The studio concerns itself with the entire lifecycle of its products, considering their every stage of life in order to produce compelling designs that last. Its thoughtful and honest material choices result in something that exudes quality and inspires care. All of its fixtures use dimmable LED technology and can be fully disassembled to change the light source, replace a part, or re-install.
Brian Richer’s artistic practice is as varied as his work experience, which includes industrial design as the Creative Director of Castor Design (a studio he runs with Kei Ng), stone carving, restaurant ownership and interior design. Richer’s work focuses on thoughtful experimenting with processes and techniques, and finding new ways to use familiar materials. This attention to narrative is maintained throughout Castor’s lines of lighting, furniture and accessories, as well as its installations and interiors projects. Richer is also interested in the intersection between art and technology, an area he explores through Castor Design’s ‘Science and Humanities Division’.
‘Azure Talks: Made in Toronto’ is generously presented by Teknion.