Monday, December 12, 2016

5 cool things at IIDEX this year

Story and photos by Allan Tong

With a movie screening, walking tours, book signings, workshops, panels, awards and parties, IIDEX, Toronto's annual interior design expo, has blossomed into a multimedia affair that's expanded beyond its two days (Nov.30-Dec.1) on the convention floor. Here are five cool things we saw at IIDEX (in no particular order):

Integral Man: This well-crafted documentary of Integral House tells the story behind the making of one of Canada's most beautiful residences nestled in Toronto's posh Rosedale ravine. The house was built over nine years according to the musical tastes of owner Jim Stewart, a violinist. The house includes a performance space that is frequently used for arts fundraisers to this day. The film offers generous views of the interior while the footage is backed by an evocative score. At the extended post-screening Q&A at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, director Joseph Clement revealed the Stewart was thankfully hands-off during the editing process, though I would have preferred that the film offered a little more insight into Stewart, a remarkable man who was a renown musician battling illness, but made his fortune authoring calculus textbooks.

The ORENDA is designer Miles Keller's vision for a single-person electric car. "Orenda" is an Iroquois name for a spiritual power inherent in people and their environment and Keller's car consciously resembles the native Canadian tradition of dog sleds and canoes.

The vehicle is made of ash runners covered with a Dacron skin. A wooden car may sound unusual, but Keller reminds us that in the past horse-and-carriages and airplanes like the Sopwith Camel were made of wood.

Lasers cut intricate designs on wood, acrylic and stainless steel on these panels by Artotech. From abstract to geometric, these patterns can be used as room dividers, window coverings or railing. They're eye-catching in whatever form.

This tall Frovi wing chair blocks out noise. Wing chairs aren't a new idea, but these sleek, comfy design create a zone of silence that's needed in today's world of 400-square-foot condos.

VR stands for virtual reality. You've probably seen folks wear these at tech conventions, but VR is gradually catching on in real estate to marketing of homes and office buildings. Just strap on a smartphone attached to a set of goggles and suddenly enter a building where you move around a room 360 degrees or "walk" through an entire structure by turning and walking in every direction.

Liminal 360 from Melbourne, Australia lets you click on screen using handsets to transport you into different rooms of a condo. Overall, the experience is so convincing that first-time users can become disoriented after removing the goggles or during a demo they could bump into walls and people. Expect to see more VR goggles in the future.

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