The DesignTO Festival Announces its January 2024 Programming 

[December 2023, Toronto] Save the date and get ready for all things design. The 14th annual DesignTO Festival kicks off in just over a month and we can’t wait to show you what we’ve been working on. Running January 19, 2024 to January 28, the Festival showcases over 100 free events including window installations, tours, talks,  and exhibitions by over 300 artists and designers across the City of Toronto. 

Featuring an array of creative disciplines, the Festival showcases the interconnectedness of art, design, technology and culture, reflecting the diversity of contemporary design. The 10-day Festival includes exciting projects featuring material and de-material explorations, a trip into the virtual worlds of AI and videogames, studio tours, multidisciplinary conversations, product launches, parties, and artifacts from the past, present and future of work.

Bringing people together to design a better future is the heartbeat of DesignTO. We curate free exhibitions, presentations, and educational programming to increase the public’s knowledge of and appreciation for design, making design a shared and inclusive experience, and forefronting its role in creating a sustainable, just, and joyful world. There is inspiration, information and fun to be had by all. We engage local and international visitors with countless examples of personal expression and big picture problem-solving. Peruse the schedule and plan to see it all. For additional information and other media resources, visit the DesignTO News Room

Below, we’ve cherry-picked nine exhibitions and events that exemplify the three pillars that act as the structural backbone to our programming – joy, justice, and sustainability. RSVP to these events now and come meet this year’s headlining thinkers and makers.

elsewhere Collective, ‘Crack in the Case’ installation, Nuit Blanche 2023.

A room is a home, is a playground 
Jan 26 – 28 at Ace Hotel Toronto

This site-specific event champions fun by design. Led by Montreal/Toronto-based creative practice Studio Rat, and produced by Ace Hotel Toronto, they welcome free play throughout the inflatable installation and across the three-day event. Join them for a conversation with their collaborators on the opening day.

DesignTO Festival Launch Party 
Jan 19 at Harbourfront Centre

The DesignTO Launch Party takes over the Harbourfront Centre this year on Toronto’s waterfront. Experience a one-night-only immersive multimedia installation by Toronto-based elsewhere Collective, and be the first to see ‘Future Matters’, featuring the work of nine local and international artists and designers. Dance all night to music by DJs Fly Lady Di and Adeola.

Lucid Ideas 
Jan 19 – Feb 16 at Umbra Concept Store

Through material and form we can use translucent properties to create unique visual outcomes that conceal, diffuse or reveal. To what extent can the process of obscuring light be transformative? This exhibition highlights nine prototypical examples of how translucency can be considered in homeware design.

StudioRat, ‘Garden of Inflated Delights’, Ace Hotel 2023

Golden Beauty Supply
Jan 19 – 28 at 95 St. Clair Avenue W 

Upon her arrival in Canada, artist Ehiko Odeh grappled with finding community. It was through braiding hair that she fostered connections in the city. Her work explores the attention Black people give to their hair as it creates moments of intimacy, vulnerability, and trust. Enjoy her sculptural and painting interventions among 1970s era beauty supplies and advertisements.

Ideas Forum: Architecture of Imagined Spaces 
Jan 23 online

Organized in partnership with the Toronto Society of Architects, the ‘Ideas Forum’ features five fast-paced presentations exploring the intersection of real and virtual built environments. How can technology help expand our (architectural) imagination? Join to learn the implications of the shrinking gap between virtual and non-virtual worlds on labour, safety and authorship.

Urban Canvas: Empowering Youth Through Public Art and Creative Media
Jan 21 at Innis Town Hall Theatre

Youths have the potential to make meaningful contributions to the design processes of communities and cities. Featuring urban planners, artists and community organizers, this panel discussion will explore compelling case studies and best practices that have effectively harnessed art to embed diverse youth voices in community building.

Morgan Possberg Denne. ‘Old friend’, 2023. Photo by Greg Ellison.

Circular Living Lab
Jan 19 – 28 at Circular Living Lab (CLL)

Demolition creates unnecessary energy, carbon and material waste in a climate crisis, while also erasing the cultural and social stories that are embedded into a place. CLL aims to act as an incubator for circular construction and urban mining in Toronto, supporting innovative designers who are leveraging the cultural and environmental potential of what’s existing. 

DesignTO Talks: Dematerialized 
Jan 24 & 25 online 

DesignTO’s ninth annual symposium brings together eight multidisciplinary experts to explore the complexities of dematerialization in an increasingly digital world. Speakers will cover such topics as the future of digital artifacts, the ecological impact of computation, spaces for Indigenous self-determination, walking as an immaterial urban practice, and more.

Future Matters 
Jan 19 – Apr 28 at Gallery 235, Harbourfront Centre

Materials carry complex narratives and histories are embedded within them. This multidisciplinary exhibition – featuring the work of eight local and international designers and artists – addresses such interconnected themes as colonialism, sustainability, cultural significance and site specificity of materials, interplay between technology and hand-based techniques, revitalization of traditional cultural practices, and more. 

Bartlett MArch Urban Design – Videogame Urbanism Student Exhibition, 2017. Image courtesy of ‘Ideas Forum: Architecture of Imagined Spaces’ speakers, You+Pea.

The Festival happens online and in-person at venues across the City of Toronto. Most events and exhibitions are free, but some require a RSVP or purchased tickets. All window installations are viewable from the outdoors.

Join us in celebrating design’s transformative power. Engage with us on social media, online or in person, and immerse yourself in a world of design, as every interaction enriches our collective experience.

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About DesignTO

DesignTO is a non-profit organization that curates exhibitions, presentations, and educational programming to increase the public’s knowledge and appreciation of design and its role in creating a sustainable, just and joyful world.

DesignTO is best known for the DesignTO Festival, Canada’s leading and largest annual design festival that celebrates design as a multidisciplinary form of creative thinking and making. The festival brings the public together with over 100 exhibitions and events that form Toronto’s design week every January. | INSTAGRAM | FACEBOOK | X (formerly TWITTER) | LINKEDIN

For additional information, visual assets, and to set up interviews, contact Michael Madjus at [email protected].