DesignTO Festival goes “distanced and digital” for 2021


DesignTO is about creativity, community, and experimentation.

Celebrate art and design at distanced and digital events and exhibitions at the DesignTO Festival January 22-31, 2021. Going into its 11th year, the DesignTO Festival offers a variety of window installations viewable from the outdoors, fantastic virtual exhibitions, and engaging online talks, taking art and design out of the studio and into the city, and now into your home!

For more information, and the full Festival Schedule, visit

COVID protocols are in effect. Events are being adapted to current lockdown conditions. DesignTO is not recommending unnecessary travel.

Festival Highlights:

DesignTO Launch Party – ONLINE
Friday, January 22 | 8-10pm

Kick off the annual DesignTO Festival with its official virtual Launch Party, featuring artist Maylee Todd, and DJs Fly Lady Di and Sigourney Beaver. Join online to support DesignTO, your local non-profit organization that brings Toronto’s creative community together. Organized by DesignTO. Supported by Salex.

DesignTO Symposium: A Future without Work – ONLINE
Wednesday, January 27 and Thursday, January 28 | 6-8pm

DesignTO’s sixth annual symposium brings nine multidisciplinary experts together for an inspiring virtual discussion about Inclusive Design, covering inclusive education, the business case for inclusion, accessible technologies, co-creation, decolonization and other thought-provoking topics. Speakers include Andrew Do, Annie Jean-Baptiste, Lee Jones, Matthew Hickey, Maya Mahgoub-Desai and Veronica Madonna, Jahan Mantin, Shelagh McCartney, and Rain Michaels. Organized by DesignTO. Supported by Quadrangle, with media partner AZURE Magazine.

3 Miniature Suites – OUTDOORS
January 22 – 31

‘3 Miniature Suites’ takes a small-scale perspective on three major social issues, many of which take place in the privacy of our homes. As recent statistics and tragic events show, these issues have been on the increase during COVID-19. Often it takes someone from the outside – a relative, family friend or teacher – to report occurrences or troubling signs. Or an entire community to demand changes to policies that are failing those who are most vulnerable.

Healing Spaces – ONLINE
Wednesday, January 27 | 12-1:30pm

‘Healing Spaces’ engages three panelists in a virtual discussion on the ability for architecture and design to heal, not only by meeting the needs of individuals, but also through acknowledging the transcendent importance of a community’s collective consciousness. Organized by DesignTO in partnership with The Site Magazine.

Does Canada Need A National Architecture Policy? – ONLINE
Tuesday, January 26 | 5:30-7pm

‘Does Canada Need A National Architecture Policy?’ is a virtual fireside chat with representatives of some of Toronto’s leading city-building organizations, who will share their own perspectives on the process and content of the emerging National Architecture Policy for Canada, responding to the nationally formulated “Rise for Architecture” vision.

Majesty – Illusion Between Italy and Canada – ONLINE
October 19 – February 28

The Istituto Italiano di Cultura Toronto presents new young protagonists of the most innovative and remarkable Italian design, Chiara Andreatti and Francesco Faccin, by exploring the relationship of humans with wild nature.

DesignTO Talks: Anony & Rainville Sangaré – ONLINE
Friday, January 29 | 5-6pm

Join DesignTO and design expert Catherine Osborne for a conversation with Christian Lo of lighting studio Anony and Lambert Rainville and Nicolas Sangaré of multidisciplinary studio Rainville Sangaré, on the occasion of their window installations at EQ3’s King East showroom viewable from outdoors.

The Commons: Public Space, Public Art – OUTDOORS
January 22 – 31

DesignTO Youth is a community engagement program which offers youth access to creative disciplines and professionals, culminating in a public exhibition of their work. This year working in partnership with SKETCH Working Arts, DesignTO Youth focuses on public space and public art. Keen observations and critical conversations about public spaces nurtured the youths’ imagining of ideal futures, and re-imagining of cities, spaces and homes. Organized by DesignTO in partnership with SKETCH Arts. Supported by the City of Toronto (Economic Development & Culture) and Shopify. Venue provided by Stackt.


Exchange Piece – ONLINE
January 22 – February 28

The online exhibition ‘Exchange Piece’ explores collaboration as an act of care through an exchange between 10 early career and senior artists and designers working in pairs to explore how care in the creative process affects the way we relate and position ourselves to what we create. Curated by DesignTO, and co-presented with Harbourfront Centre. Supported by Lemay.

It’s My Future Toronto: Imagine & Make Future Visions for the City of Toronto – ONLINE
January 23 & 30

‘It’s My Future Toronto [IMFTO]: Imagine & Make Future Visions for the City of Toronto’ is a special program bringing together education, industry, and government to provide the opportunity for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour) youth aged 8-12 years to design Toronto’s recovery from COVID-19 and systemic racism for the next 3-5 years.

Ideas Forum: Community Care – ONLINE
Thursday, January 28 | 12-1pm

‘Ideas Forum: Community Care’ features five fast-paced and fun virtual presentations (20 slides shown for 20 seconds each) exploring the themes and questions from DesignTO’s thematic exhibition on care in collaboration, creative practice and community. Organized by DesignTO in partnership with the Toronto Society of Architects. Qualifies for 1 hour of OAA ConEd; certificates will be provided.

Support Black Designers – OUTDOORS
October 23 – February 1

‘Support Black Designers’ is a temporary mural featuring artwork and writing by Black creatives – curated by the Daniels Art Directive with designers Ashita Parekh and Tolu Alabi – installed on the north facade of One Spadina, the University of Toronto John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design.

In Conversation: Nehal El-Hadi with Anna Torma and Sarah Quinton – ONLINE
Tuesday, January 26 | 4-5pm

Join Nehal El-Hadi, Editor-in-Chief of Studio Magazine, artist Anna Torma, and Curatorial Director Sarah Quinton as they explore Torma’s solo exhibition ‘Permanent Danger’, currently on view at the Textile Museum of Canada.


To see several more online and outdoor projects, visit

For more information, please contact:

Michael Madjus, Head of Marketing

For media inquiries, please contact:

Karli Kachur, Account Manager
Brill Communications

Image credits:
Maylee Todd, photo by Joe Fuda
Khadija Aziz and Laura Kay Keeling, ‘Layers of Labour of Love 2’, 2020