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It was trade day at the The Interior Design Show yesterday and I was looking for some inspiration. There was a real buzz in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and a feeling of optimism, which is just what the design industry needs.

The XXX table from Avenue Road – gorgeous


The glamorous calice table from Avenue Road

The bell table from Avenue Road

For me, some of the standout pieces came from the small independent studios. The indie factor is a uniquely Canadian phenomenon and the edgy, but natural approach many of our artisans take is part of our cultural identity. The Studio North exhibit featured contemporary Canadian design with a reference to raw materials like stone and wood.

 This barrel light from Zac Ridgely of Ridgely Studio Works Inc.  has a glamorous industrial feel. Zac is the son of award winning Toronto architect Gordon Ridgely

Zac Ridgely is known for reinventing materials in unexpected ways. I love the playful feel of this light 

This clever pendant light is by Jason and Lars Dressler – known as Brothers Dressler. They also took part in the Sibling Revelry exhibition along with four other hotshot designer siblings. Many of their pieces are made from what they call cut ups – leftover scraps of wood that would otherwise be thrown away. The 6’8″ identical twins, who have a workshop in Toronto, work with reclaimed materials and convert them into original furniture and lighting.

Aside from the focus on natural materials, colour was a dominant theme this year. From tiles to carpet companies, it was a strong and obvious trend that pushed neutrals to the back burner. Area rugs from Modern Weave and W. Studio featured designs that seemed pulled from beautiful abstract paintings. As a starting point in a room, these rugs offer so many possibilities.


Area rugs from Modern Weave (above) have a painterly feel

 W Studio’s rugs (below) reminded me of aerial maps

Newcomers Erin Julian and Dave McAdam from Victoria BC launched their company Arbutus & Denman at the show. Their simply spun lighting collection is made in Vancouver and features six simple silhouettes in white or black made from spun aluminum. The powder-coated matte finish gives the collection a clean contemporary feeling.

I was also drawn to the glass light fixtures designed and produced by AM Studio. The Toronto-based studio opened 3 1/2 years ago and sells mostly to designers and architects, but the company is also happy to deal with the public.

Toronto retailer Snob was attracting a lot of attention with its stylish booth. Owner Denise Zidel, features hand-crafted furniture, accessories and lighting from Africa. The pendant lighting she carries is magnificent. It comes in gold, black or silver.

Original art is often too expensive for people who are looking for large canvases. Victoria Adams is the founder and art director of an online site called UrbanCanvasArt.com. Based in Ottawa, Adams offers affordable modern canvas art prints for sale on the web. Various sizes, finishes and framing techniques are available. At the show, Victoria was highlighting White Birch – a print by Canadian fine artist Alison Fowler.

The line up for the Sibling Revelry exhibits brought back pained memories of  Disney World, but I have to admit I’m glad I stuck it out. Not surprisingly, Sarah Richardson and her brother Theo Richardson attracted the most attention. I’ve saved the best for last – take a look at what they created.

Ben Mark Holzberg’s Summerhill subway photo gives this room an urban edge

Love the crosses and the addition of polka dots

Sarah used a gorgeous quadrille fabric to highlight Theo’s lighting

The overhead light fixture and the table are fabulous. Sarah also used artist Michael Adamson’s work throughout this project

The use of yellow in this bedroom is so fresh (Sibling revelry photos, courtesy of Sarah Richardson Design)

 If you haven’t already checked out the Interior Design Show, it’s open all weekend.