Canada can usually claim wins in ice hockey but when it comes to design most countries put us to shame. Okay let me clarify this. Yes we have talented designers and do have a “few” decent companies producing quality products but once again a country has come out of the blue and beaten us to the punch. And the punch here is a biggie, DesignWeek in Milan.
For those of you unfamiliar with this event, it a weeklong lovefest of design that completely envelopes the Northern Italian city. For this year’s edition, Belgrade has sent a delegation of young Serbian designers to promote their talents during the year’s greatest design show. I am happy for them as I am for any city or country that invests and promotes their creative individuals. However, I am deeply saddened that our country and our city never show up to these events in a meaningful way. Yes, there have been token events and the odd lecture. I had the pleasure of giving one at the Triennale museum in 2004. But for the most part it is other cities that send their hopefuls forward.
Why is this important? Well, for starters the Italian furniture sector is the largest industry that invests in innovative and new furniture pieces. If you’re going to promote your radical new idea, this is the place. Also, exporting design talent to Italy will do wonders for a design career and bring prosperity to our city.
It never ceases to baffle me that for all this talk about Toronto as a design centre with more designers per capita than any other North American city, we never promote our talent. Ironically, Toronto and Milano are twin cities. Why? There couldn’t be a more mis-matched marriage outside of Hollywood’s celeb debacles. Toronto is completely off the world’s it-city radar when it comes to design.
Governments at all levels must do more to promote our designers at world events and give Toronto’s talented designers the recognition they deserve.