Thursday, November 30, 2017

IIDEX 2017's sights and designs

story & photos by Allan Tong

IIDEX, Canada's largest architecture and interior design expo, returned yesterday (ending today) to occupy the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Among the two days of panels, awards, talks and receptions, these exhibits caught our eye:


Feelux Canada's seamless LED lights are lightweight, waterproof and malleable, such as the FLX Stix NDPro (pictured below), ideal for retail displays or homes in various colours, and ballparking at $45 per linear foot. These plug 'n' play LEDs snap together like Lego and don't require soldering.



Speaking of twisted lighting, Toronto's Luminart offers the Kepler Suspension in epoxy-coated aluminum (above, centre of photo) as designed by Arihiro Miyake. Next to that is the 3tubes Suspension, an aluminum pendant lamp with an anodized copper finish.

This giant salad bowl is a Balux concrete bathtub, spanning 65 inches and rising nearly 23 inches off the ground. It comes in colours ranging from beige to dark grey.


James Clarke-Hicks and Isabel Ochoa (picture below) steam-bent ash to exploit the wood's elasticity to design the SPLIT Lamp. Below, Ochoa demonstrates how to increase the illumination with the simple twist of a knob.


Tahir Mahmood adapted Kausa Ragaputra's painting from India, c.1700, Music For After Midnight, into this attractive side table. A companion table featuring the male figure is also available though not on display at IIDEX.
Michigan's Sensitile uses resin, terrazzo and, as you can see below in these walls and ceiling fixtures, glass to create dazzling reflective materials to enliven office spaces.




If there's an award for most enchanting booth, then Renwil deserves it for this homage to the classic film, Casablanca, which just celebrated its 75 anniversary. Renwil offers paintings, furnishings, and rugs, some of which they displayed here, below.





IIDEX continues today with exhibits, lectures, walking tours and receptions, though the expo kicked off two nights ago with a reception held by Upper Canada Forest Products and the beautiful Queen Richmond Centre West (QRC-West). Architect Dermot Sweeny of Sweeny & Co. painstakingly explained to the rapt audience how his firm transformed a five-storey brick heritage building and L-shaped parking lot into a 17-storey office tower that literally embraces the former exterior space.


The key lies in these three "jacks" or Delta columns (above) which support the tabletop--and modern office tower--above the heritage building. Each leg in a column, Sweeny said, carries the equivalent of 55 locomotive trains. He recalls there was a lot of discussion about the design and size of these giant columns (which resemble those at nearby OCAD). "Architects wanted thinner and more elegant, but engineers wanted fatter and beefier and more concrete."

Each leg is 40-inches in diameter with a steel thickness of two inches. The largest steel castings ever made for a building were produced by a Kansas City foundry and took two weeks to cool, given the steel's thickness. A Hamilton company made the column's tapered ends (that Sweeny pushed for) with roll plate that came from South Korea. A concrete foundation 12 feet deep holds the jacks in place and prevents them from spreading. In all, it took three years to transform the heritage building, because a lot of the parts were custom made, explained Sweeny (seen above).

Sweeny's passion, like an excited kid talking about a fantastic new toy, demonstrated his sheer love for design and buildings, a guiding quality at IIDEX.





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