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Umbra Journal

Celebrating Canadian Design

To start off the new year, we partnered with Toronto Design Offsite Festival (TO DO) to explore “Compact Living” and celebrate design in our home country, Canada. The result was a week long exhibit at the Toronto Umbra Store featuring the work of 11 Canadian Designers from coast to coast. The products were a unique exploration of objects for the home that make small space living better.

Our team is currently evaluating all product designs and it’s possible that they might become part of the umbra 2018 collection.

Compact Living Exhibit:

Sling by Simone Ferkul – Best in Show Winner


Sling is a series of suspended planters that create plantscapes in small spaces. The collection examines the “traditional” hanging planters to become a more elemental expression in which the form and function are dependent on one another. A ceramic vessel is cradled within an elongated continuous loop that is composed of fabric cord with metal armateurs at each suspension point. The relationship between the pure forms creates a framework for a personalized flora expression.

Simone Ferkul is a Toronto based designer whose foundation is in interior design. Driven by the process of making and experimenting, she sets out to create products, furniture and experiences that celebrate materiality, form, function and detail.

Topside by Harbour - Fan Favourite Winner


Topside explores dual purpose design for small space living. Both a tray and wall mirror, it’s a versatile piece for the home, café or bar. Named as a nod to the top deck of a ship, Topside’s oblong shape describes the shape of a boat, while the bent metal frame and mirrored surface reference the railings and deck. Topside’s tubular bent metal frame floats in front of the mirrored surface creating depth while also making a comfortable handle for the tray. The large diameter tubular metal was chosen to enhance the tray’s easygoing appeal, but to also add a playful robustness. Both the underside of the tray, and the steel frame standoffs are finished in lacquered wood – a further reference to Topside’s nautical design origins. Topside tray can be hung on the wall as an ‘out of the way’ storage solution turned mirror creating the illusion of more space and depth in a small room.

Harbour is an exploration into the maritime vernacular. The goal is to distill the quintessential elements that define the Maritime’s character & flavour into their basic building blocks and use these deeply rooted cultural icons to create contemporary design. Established in 2016 by Geoffrey Ramsay, the design studio Harbour is based in Saint John, New Brunswick.

Two Halves Shelf by Chifen Cheng - Designlines Loves Winner


The capsule like shelf is designed to play with three different dimensions where each axis has its own functionality. It creates a sculptural volume with a subtle accent of color. The wall-mounted metal shelf has a half capsule mirror which is offset from the wall for holding books, records, mail, magazines and newspapers. The cavity can hold plant life, keys, change, or act as a pedestal to display something precious. A marine blue shelf that is perfect for brightening up your space and mood!

Chifen Cheng is a Taiwanese-born Canadian industrial designer based in Montreal. Her focus is on designing products from everyday objects to lighting. She explores the way lines and shapes intersect space, and dance with light and shadow. The goal is to translate this visual graphic into a product that is minimal with maximum functionality. Her work has been featured in magazines and websites, including Monocle, Elle Decoration, and Design Milk to name a few.

Basalt Bathroom Set by Alissa Coe 


With hidden spaces and a minimal aesthetic this set helps to prevent clutter in small bathroom spaces. Inspired by the compact natural formations created by basalt, this bathroom set contains five lidded vessels for the discreet storage of daily bathroom necessities like toothbrushes and toothpaste, cotton swabs and cotton pads, make-up and hair accessories, and the set also has soap dish with an easy to clean drain dish. An interior metal component helps to lift the articles in the tallest vessels to the top where they can be easily accessed. The five vessels can be configured to suit the needs and space of the user.

Alissa Coe endeavours to create objects that capture the elegance and strength of the natural world using minimal form and the finest materials and craftsmanship. Born and raised in rural eastern Ontario, Alissa studied Industrial Design at the Ontario College of Art and Design and is currently living and working in Toronto, Canada. Alissa has a practice based in ceramics, focusing mainly on sculpture.

Frontières by Aubry/Levesque 


"A porous border” Room divider shelving units for small apartments.
The units are inspired by vintage outdoor wire frame furniture, popular in the 50’s and bring it’s retro smartness to the modern apartment. The modern apartment needs its frontières, firstly as a state of mind for personal privacy and secondly as a geographic issue, for space boundaries. The linear form lets the light in, and divides in a very lightly way a room.

The team of Marie-Pier Aubry and Maxime Levesque both graduated from University of Montreal in the field of industrial design. In its first year, their multi-disciplinary studio has forged strong ties with Québec-based brands and retailers for the creation of limited-edition decorative objects. The creator’s passion for a nordic aesthetic with strong Scandinavian design influences shines through in everything they make.

Bug & K.I.S.S. by Rainville - Sangare

BUG - A “homey” interpretation of a stepstool taking cues from mid-century furniture. The steel structure is painted with a thick matte rubber finish which provides a warm, comfortable, waterproof, and protective coating. Simply put, a practical object for compact living. RAINVILLE  SANGARE – ISLAND (2 DIFFERENT PIECES)_01

K.I.S.S. (Kitchen Island Surface System) - Extra working surface for small kitchens. The goal was to come up with a very elegant and structural design to reduce costs while offering user customization for the end user. The basic four parts are flat-packed and are easily assembled. Utensils, pots and towels can hang from the structure. You can add more shelves if need be. Wheels are an option. Stainless steel for durability and powder coated legs for a little colour customization.

Lambert Rainville and Nicholas Sangaré founded their design office in 2015. Both are industrial design graduates from University of Montreal. They have a transversal approach and work to create spaces, imagine furniture and design products with a special focus towards local industry.

Section Stool by Hinterland 


A multi-functional piece of furniture consisting of stacked units that can swivel out to create useful spaces all concealed under a cushioned stool seat. Side tables, storage tray, wooden bowl, desk organizer, and more. All nest neatly in line or open out to create many useful storage spaces.

Designer Riley Mcferrin founded Hinterland Design in 2012 with the sole purpose of creating unique furnishings inspired by the rare beauty of the forests and coast of British Columbia, Canada. The Hinterland aesthetic is the culmination of his fine art education paired with over 20 years working with wood up the coast from San Francisco to Vancouver.

The Moon & Quilt Cover by Libs Elliot


Whether big or small, every space needs warmth. The MOON quilt provides just that. At 5 x 5 cm, it’s the perfect size for a compact space. When not in use, it can be used as a cushion by folding it up and storing it inside the Moon cushion cover. The MOON QUILT was inspired by the constellations of the night sky and the light of the moon. A geometric pattern, designed randomly using a programming language called Processing, is stitched in white thread on cotton fabric. This non-repeating pattern stands out against the dark side and is subtle on the light side. A circle, representing the full moon, is featured on the cushion cover. It’s 100% cotton, machine washable and luxuriously soft.

Elizabeth (Libs) Elliott is a textile artist exploring the intersection of technology and traditional craft by using generative design to build handmade quilts. A deep appreciation for craftsmanship, design history and future-focused applications are all reflected in her work. She studied Material Art & Design at OCAD University and lives and works in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She has exhibited her projects internationally and been covered by press such as Gizmodo.com, The Creators Project and Design Milk.

Facet Mirror by Char Kennedy 


The Facet mirror was designed to explore the daily ritual of looking in the mirror. The Facet Mirror provides 4 viewing angles based on a simple rotation of the object. This interaction is a physical and intentional one, with the form of the mirror encouraging users to physically engage with the handle of the object to move it around. This avoids fingerprints on the mirror as it is being moved to a new position and it creates a physical interaction between the user and the object of use. The Facet Mirror encourages quality living within small spaces by providing function and personalization on a small scale.

Char Kennedy is an Industrial Designer currently based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Her work focuses on people and designing objects that engage interaction and question the everyday. Her current work, explores the intersection of spatial and object design and how the two inform and interact with one another. This is an important conversation in designing objects that create function and beauty within small living spaces.

Felt File Folder and Magazine Holder by Kathryn Walter 


This file organizer can bring order to daily papers, current files and project research. At 10 cm wide x 12 cm long x 10 cm high, it will sit on the floor or on a large desk and can be filled to an increasing capacity. It is made from a natural grey industrial wool felt ¼” thick that provides a sturdy form. The design makes use of this dense, firm felt to hold structure through simple folds. Using a 10 cm piece of felt cut from a standard manufacturer’s roll at 60 cm wide, the design maximizes the yield of material. Two wooden dowels are fed through holes in the felt strategically located to create the folds, and secured at each end to a wood bar that supports, raises and maintains an elegant form.

Kathryn Walter has maintained a studio practice since 1990, working at the intersection of visual art, design and material culture. In 2000 she founded FELT as a studio and a label to explore modern industrial felt through exhibitions, a product line and feature wall installations, collaborating with architects in Canada and the United States. Walter’s work has been exhibited at multiple museums and art galleries in North America.

Unicorn by Linus Kung  - Designlines Loves Winner


“Unicorn” is a versatile lamp inspired by the iconic fluorescent umbrellas in the movie Blade Runner. Unicorn is not designed for a specific situation in mind, but rather looks for opportunities to shine. With a wide and rotatable umbrella handle at the top of the lamp and a strong magnet at the bottom, Unicorn easily adapts to different environments in a home. Powered by a USB chargable battery, Unicorn refuses to be restricted by wall sockets. Unicorn borrows and combines two common typologies to give a pleasant familiarity to a lamp that finds function in its casual and practical nature.

Linus Kung is a Toronto-born furniture and product designer now based in Hong Kong and Providence, Rhode Island. His approach explores the emotive power of objects through experimentation with material, form and utility. His work wishes to seek balance between boldness and familiarity, practicality and elegance, combined with considerable humour at times. He likes to discover and collect low-cost mass produced items he finds appealing in his spare time.

We'd like to thank the panel of industry insiders that participated in the judging for the exhibit:
Catherine Osborne – Editor, Azure Magazine
Jessica Nakanishi & Jonathan Sabine – MSDS
Deborah Wang – Creative Director, Toronto Design Offsite
Laura Carwardine – Product + CMF Designer, Umbra
Matt Carr - VP Design, Umbra