Home » Toronto Design at the Gladstone Hotel: CUTMR

Toronto Design at the Gladstone Hotel: CUTMR

I stopped buy the Gladstone Hotel this afternoon to preview the works in this year’s tenth anniversary of Come Up To My Room, Toronto’s ‘Alternative Design Show’. It’s celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, and it’s always been a nicely condensed little show in which designers pair up to collaborate on room-sized installation on the hotel’s first floor.

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Andrew Ashbury & Aidan Mitchelmore, Chair Project. All images: VoCA.

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Andrew Ashbury & Aidan Mitchelmore, Chair Project.

I have blogged about the show in past years, including HERE, and you’ll see that I’m a fan. For some reason it inspires really strong, creative stuff. It’s a wonderful companion to the much more corporate Interior Design Show, taking place this weekend at the Convention Centre. CUTMR was founded ten years ago by curators Christina Zeidler and Pamila Matharu, who return this year with collaborators Noa Bronstein and David Dick-Agnew.

Click HERE for their ten year archive. It’s pretty amazing.

While I found the show to be a bit more clean and minimal than past years – as usual there were some amazing discoveries.

Taking up a large part of the main room and front window, a group from Quadrangle Architects had installed a meandering piece titled ‘Common Thread‘ that wound its way around several corners before petering out in small bunches on a wall surrounding a life-sized photo images of a Persian carpet. Conceptually, the idea of bringing in a material from the outside world and winding it down – or ‘taming’ it – before it transforms into a carpet, or design object was intriguing. It was as if they were delineating the process of design but in a fun, abstract way.

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Quadrangle Architects, Common Thread.

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Quadrangle Architects, Common Thread.

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Quadrangle Architects, Common Thread.

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Quadrangle Architects, Common Thread.

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Quadrangle Architects, Common Thread.

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Quadrangle Architects, Common Thread.

In another room, Tomas Rojcik and Andrew Lovett-Barron hung their surprisingly seductive fluorescent lights low near the floor to great effect:

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Tomas Rojcik and Andrew Lovett-Barron, Firesite.

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Tomas Rojcik and Andrew Lovett-Barron, Firesite.

I was surprised by some chairs by Humber College students for the Chair Prototypes: Digital Fabrication ITAL project. This one, by Kat Velez, I found to be particularly elegant and well designed:

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Kat Velez, the ‘\v’ chair.

For sheer coolness, SUMO Project by Gaston Soucy and Ruth A. Mora used black light inside a giant mirrored cube to create a dizzying, impossible-to-photograph corridor environment:

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SUMO Project, In All Falsehood.

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SUMO Project, In All Falsehood.

I particularly enjoyed the installation by Woman King Collective titled Dwell, which featured rows of small house-shaped frames, each treated in such a way as to evoke something about birth, death, relationships etc from a feminine point of view. It was surprisingly effective ‘feminist’ art – I’d love to own a few.

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Woman King Collective, Dwell (The Nest is Built).

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Woman King Collective, Dwell (Memento Mori).

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Woman King Collective, Dwell (Embrace).

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Woman King Collective, Dwell.

Then there was Deanne Lehtinen’s very cool Knot, an oversized macrame lamp that looked like something Marcel Wanders would have made:

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Deanne Lehtinen, Knot.

I was also very impressed by work from two students from the University of Waterloo School of Architecture. They are Andrew Ashbury & Aidan Mitchelmore, whose Chair Project was a highly complex graphic construction of what appeared to be Baltic birch. It is actually a chair, though they wouldn’t let me sit on it (!)

On a more subtle note, Fictional Territories is a collective whose piece 15,000 Rosaries was delicate, contemplative and lovely:

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Fictional Territories, 15,000 Rosaries.

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Fictional Territories, 15,000 Rosaries.

There were some pretty interesting installations again this year, but in terms of overall use of space, the one I found the most compelling was the farthest to the back. Like walking into the middle of a fairytale, it was The Island of Bonemeal by Rachel Speirs.

As usual, I didn’t read the wall text, but it didn’t need explaining. the sound & images of crashing waves above a half submerged boat, the paintings…it all evoked a world reminiscent of Shary Boyle’s performances. Perfect on a cold, snowy day.

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Rachel Spears, The Island of Bonemeal.

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Rachel Spears, The Island of Bonemeal.

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Rachel Spears, The Island of Bonemeal.

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Rachel Spears, The Island of Bonemeal.

2 Responses to “Toronto Design at the Gladstone Hotel: CUTMR”

  1. ChrisToronto says:

    Totally agree about the Island of Bonemeal and was surprised to learn that Rachel Spears is self-taught; she left a corporate day job to reinvent herself and pursue life as a visual artist. I also especially loved Sumo Project’s black light installation, In All Falsehood, and the Capacity Show of women artists, downstairs in the Art Bar, was also very satisfying. I look forward to CUTMR every year!

    • Andrea says:

      Yes I heard that! Regarding the Capacity show downstairs, I found the collective to be super interesting, and am going to look more into it. But I find the Art Bar to be a challenging space for exhibitions, especially for this one, with some small, delicate pieces. I thought the concept – work inspired by more established designers – interesting, but the venue threw me off.

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