Winter in Canada’s largest city can be long and gloomy, so Toronto goes especially hard on its seasonal festivals. For the creative community, this means DesignTO – a city-wide celebration of all things design, architecture and art.

DesignTO was founded in 2010 to spotlight and nurture Canadian design talent. Since its inaugural edition, it’s showcased over 6,000 artists and designers and welcomed over a million visitors. This year’s edition runs from 19-28 January 2024 and continues the post-COVID bounceback, with over 100+ exhibitors, events and displays planned for the city – including an art exhibition curated by our editor-in-chief, Betty Wood.

Here are seven DesignTO events to circle in your diary this month.


Hand-punched artwork by Adrienna Mazeg showing the roof and arches of a building in Lisbon
Photography: Adrienna Matzeg

15 January-28 February 2024 at bulthaup Toronto

Architectural forms are given the fibre treatment at this playful group show, curated by The Spaces Editor Betty Wood and designer Adrienna Matzeg. Hosted at bulthaup Toronto’s King Street East showroom, Artifacts brings together eight fibre artists from across North America to explore how memory, architecture and textiles intertwine.

Standout works include soft sculpture by Baylee Schmitt, recreating her childhood kitchen, hand-embroidered interior scenes woven by Elycia SFA and new fibre ‘souvenir’ works by Matzeg, capturing Algarve landmarks in delicate needle punch.

It’s the first time exhibiting in Canada for Brooklyn-based Aliyah Salmon, who was recently named to Soho House’s first Soho 100 list. She joins multi-disciplinary artist Claudia Gutierrez and designer Laura Carwardine, who go beneath the surface of the built environment for their thoughtful abstract artworks.

Toronto architect and designer Yaw Tony presents his vibrant wearable art inspired by colour theory, Ghanaian fabrics, and architectural motifs.

Finally, Wood is showing two new works inspired by Scarborough’s Guild Park – a sculptural sanctuary that is home to fragments of Toronto’s demolished historic buildings, including the 1920s home of Nobel Prize winner Frederick Banting.

A room is a home, is a playground

The interior of the Ace Hotel Toronto will host an inflatable playground by Studio Rat
Render: Studio Rat

26-28 January 2024 at Ace Hotel Toronto

Ace Hotel Toronto opened in 2022 and quickly became one of the city’s most beloved new venues, completed to a design by Shim-Sutcliffe Architects, with a soaring atrium designed as a ‘living room’ for the city at its heart. For this special three-day event, Montreal and Toronto practice Studio Rat will transform the Ace’s lobby into a magical playground with an inflatable installation that encourages play, conversation and curiosity.

A room is a home, is a playground champions fun and encourages conversations about experiential design. Its collaborators will be on site for the opening to talk about their joyful installation.

Ideas Forum: Architecture of Imagined Spaces

Lamas Delirious facade
LAMAs Delirious facade. Courtesy of the studio

23 January 2024 – online (RVSP to register)

Interested in how the virtual world and reality interact? This online talk is organised by ​​DesignTO and the Toronto Society of Architects and will feature five quick-fire presentations exploring the intersection of the real and virtual worlds. Speakers Yusef R Frasier, Sara M Grimes, Wei-Han Vivian Lee, Jay Pooley and Sandra Youkhana and Luke Caspar Pearson of studio You+Pea will probe big questions like: what are the consequences of inhabiting virtual worlds? How can tech help expand our architectural imagination? And what are the implications of the shrinking gap between virtual and non-virtual worlds on labour, safety, and authorship?


Credit: Oliviana Cinco

19-26 January 2024 at 45 St Clair Ave West

Artist Oliviana Cinco will be weaving a giant 6.5-foot bird nest in the city’s Yonge + St. Clair neighbourhood, examining the concept of home as a place of refuge, belonging and comfort. Meaning ‘sanctuary’ in Spanish, Santuario is handmade from organic and recycled materials and takes inspiration from avian nesting practices to underscore the interconnectedness of living beings in the web of life. At its heart is a reflective dome ‘egg’ that mirrors the surrounding environment in its shiny surface.

Pretty Secrets — PS: I<3U

Pretty Secrets installation view in NYC
Photography: DesignTO

19-28 January at Mararamiro, 2090 Dundas St West

Craft, tradition and modern design converge at this group show, which ‘peeks into the minds and desires’ of 12 emerging artists and designers from across Canada, the US and China – all under the age of 25.

Works celebrate diasporic crafts and modern materials, presenting the vision of those who ‘work by peering backwards while still envisioning the future’ and revealing the ‘pretty secrets’, i.e. techniques, materials and traditions, embedded in each work.

Pretty Secrets is hosted at Mararamiro with works by Angelina Pei, Cat Love, Izzy Yang, Madeleine Young, Maggie Pei, Michelle Jia Zin Huang, and Sarah Holloway.

Pretty Secrets is a multi-city, multi-edition show format. A version was first presented in New York, curated by Eny Lee Parker. After Toronto, Pretty Secrets will make its way to Los Angeles and Shanghai.

Toilet stories

Photography courtesy TMU School of Interior Design

19-28 January 2024 at TMU School of Interior Design and Barbara Hall Park

Public washrooms have become ground-zero in recent years for anti-trans legislation, but they have always been sites for discrimination against marginalised communities. Public toilets have been used historically to reinforce paternalistic Victorian ideas and keep women close to home; racially segregate and discriminate against people of colour, especially Black people; criminalise the LGBTQ+ community (particularly during the AIDS crisis); and render disabled people invisible through their exclusion.

This complex social history is the contextual backdrop for Toilet Stories, an exhibition of designs for public toilets produced by students from TMU School of Interior Design, University of the Arts London, and RMIT University in Melbourne.

Each school will be presenting designs for their own city; the Toronto designs will be situated in Barbara Hall Park in the heart of the Village and will foreground issues of public amenity as well as gender and sexuality. An exhibition of drawings and models will also be in the Fishbowl Gallery on the ground floor of TMU’s School of Interior Design.


Via DesignTO

20-27 January 2024 at Milky’s Cloud Room, Stackt Market

Toronto’s Stackt Market is hosting 12 pop-up installations to coincide with DesignTO, including Tidelines by Nova Scotia-based artists Meghan Macdonald and Sarah Sears. ‘Tideline’ refers to the lines and patterns of debris created by the convergence of ocean currents and is the inspiration behind the pair’s installation at Milky’s Cloud Room.

Nods to the landscape and the domestic sphere are present in the textile, cast metal and concrete works by the pair, which include design objects made using mussel shells, recycled bronze and waste concrete by Sears, and recycled threads in Macdonald’s quilt.

Grab a coffee at Milky’s (designed by the terrific Full Fat Designs) and enjoy the works before exploring the rest of the shipping container park to find more.

DesignTO runs from 19-28 January 2024. See the full schedule of events



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