Jan 22
Jan 31 2021
DesignTO projectexhibition online

Due to the current lockdown in Toronto, this exhibition will not be open to the public. As an alternative, there will be a free online event with all the designers in conversation with DesignTO and Umbra on Saturday, January 23, 5-6pm (RSVP required). A video of all the prototypes will be shown in the window of the Umbra Concept Store, 165 John Street, for the duration of the DesignTO Festival January 22-31.

‘Work/Life’ is an annual exhibition that explores new prototypes for contemporary life, showcasing the work of eight Canadian designers and studios including Maha Alavi, Jeremy Labelle Design, Brandon Lim, Noda Designs, notoro, Ava Nourbaran, Plural, and Superwise.

In a world where home sizes were already dwindling and our ideas of working and living have been constantly redefined, the boundaries between work and life were drastically altered by the pandemic. Work/Life has a whole new meaning. 

How has the stay-at-home order changed your life, creating a new context for everyday living? How has being at home 24/7 changed the way we use objects? Are you hacking your way through it? How can we share these inventions or turn hacks into viable products? The boundaries between work, home, and “life” are hard to define. 

‘Work/Life’ is organized by DesignTO in partnership with Umbra. A jury will recognize best-in-show with a Best Product award and a cash prize. Visitors to the exhibition will be able to cast their vote to award Fan Favourite.

This year’s jurors for the Best Product award are Matt Carr (VP of Design, Umbra), Karen Kang (Managing Director & Head of Content, IDS Toronto), Shane Laptiste (Architect and Principal of Studio of Contemporary Architecture (SoCA) and Laptiste Architecture Inc.), and Deborah Wang (Artistic Director, DesignTO).


Ava Nourbaran, Obscura Screen

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it much more difficult to separate home-life from work-life. The Obscura Screen seeks to resolve the imbalance in our “home from work” reality. This multi-functional partition provides both privacy and an elegant solution to users who wish to separate work from home. The modern, curved design provides a magnetic display on one side and a mirror finish on the other, while multi-functional brackets allow for both free-standing and wall-hung positions. Although a rattan screen portion allows for transference of dappled light, solid areas signal the need for privacy and self-reflection.

Brandon Lim, Chair for the Little Prince
The chair for the Little Prince is the same as any other chair, the only difference being how it is perceived. Which side is up? Where do I place my feet? How do I rest my hands? There isn’t a right or wrong answer to any of these questions, only an object and what it is made to be.

Jeremy Labelle, Shuttle

Shuttle is a portable office/storage solution, holding all the daily tools necessary to work remotely. It can be set up in a variety of locations around the home to create a dedicated workspace. When the workday is over, all items can be quickly organized, stowed away and out of sight, reviving a healthy work/life balance.

notoro, Lo Lamp

Lo Lamp illustrates elements of peace and nature in its form. As the seasons change and the weather goes from sunny to grey and gloomy, this new normal can become entrapping. Lo Lamp is meant to be a beautiful accent within a room, creating an environment of calmness, and ultimately allowing for a lighter mood during these times of uncertainty.

Maha Alavi, Tube Bookends

Tube Bookends are a minimal and multifunctional solution for desk and shelf organization. With mismatched proportions, Tube is equal parts sculptural and functional, with clever storage areas for your daily essentials. Made from bent, hollow tubes, this design takes full advantage of its material to provide housing for tools of everyday productivity: pens, books, and even phones.

NODA Designs, The HQ Table

The HQ accommodates multiple workers with a removal separator. It has grooves to fit supplies, a storage system, and space for all those pesky cords. It’s coated in a space-age magnetic paint so notes never blow away. When work is done, the HQ can convert to sit 6-8 people. Compact enough for condos, easy to assemble, and affordable for all. This table does not require any screws for assembly; all components are interlocked.

Plural, Peacock Chair

With working from home becoming a sudden reality for many over the past year, significant challenges have arisen such as lack of privacy, noise distractions, and maintaining a work/life balance. The Peacock Chair responds with a unique felt shroud feature that creates a private, sound dampening personal space when rotated up, but is easily pulled down for casual settings.

Superwise, Much-Room

Taking its roots from repurposed plastic waste, Much-Room is a satellite temporary shelf made to reduce clutter in makeshift home offices. Its organic marbled surface, fashioned with post-consumer HDPE, is cantilevered onto a bent steel tube. Its base is mounted with a versatile surface clamp, which allows various configurations.


Maha Alavi, Jeremy Labelle Design, Brandon Lim, Noda Designs, notoro, Ava Nourbaran, Plural, Superwise



Who should visitors contact with questions regarding accessibility?
Umbra Concept Store
(416) 599-0088
Is this venue accessible by wheelchair or similar mobility devices? This includes access to washrooms and all aspects of programming/events.
Can people get to the venue using accessible transit?
'Peacock Chair' by Plural
'Peacock Chair' by Plural
'Lo Lamp' by notoro
'Tube Bookends' by Maha Alavi
'Shuttle' by Jeremy Labelle
'The HQ Table' by Noda Designs