I don’t remember how Douglas Coupland’s demo-defining novel Generation X went down exactly. When I read it, I was 20 and living in a house with permanently painted-shut windows, following a terrifying car accident. Like the accident, though, I do recall the book’s impression. Coolly nuanced, it spoke to my age group, as a cultural Bible of the time: something about being over-educated, under-appreciated and searching for meaning in our lives.
Coupland was top of mind for me and 1,199 other style lovers last Friday, at DX Intersection, a bash/fundraiser held at The Design Exchange in Toronto. There, the author was seen wandering through the crowd with his little grey beard and slanted smirk. The event was being held in his honour as 2012’s “Game Changer of the Year”; it also marked The Design Exchange’s relaunch as Canada’s Design Museum.
This event constituted one sexy showdown. Set to the rhythm of beats by two separate music ensembles, three floors pulsed as 1,200 style lovers and their dates sauntered (and, as the night progressed, swayed) through the cavernous space. To be frank, these types of events often feel laborious, but DX had all of the ingredients you fantasize about having when throwing a party: topless girls and boys with painted chests toting balloons — prick the green one for $100! (my boyfriend won 500 square feet of snazzy Flor carpet tiles); killer music by Keys N Krates and Skratch Bastid (who performed live and had people dancing for real); cocktails and endless food by Oliver Bonacini and Rodney’s Oyster House.
We also snagged a golden ticket to a mysterious pop-up dinner on the third floor. Sponsored by GE Monogram, it featured arty eats by Matty Matheson of Parts & Labour. As we entered, we were met with a still, crafted by the idiosyncratic Castor design posse. The Dr. Jekyll-esque contraption produced a concentrated citrus elixir infused with a spirit — orange firewater as amuse-bouche? Nice!
For the pop-up dinner, about 20 people stood abreast on each side of a bar-height table in a darkened room. Before us, moulded trays by tongtong; each with craters containing a condensed (as in, bite-sized) four-course meal, including a stellar grapefruit-tinged Wagyu beef.
There were so many art installations, including work by (naturally) Douglas Coupland and Daniel Faria Gallery; Niall McClelland and Alex Durlak; and Scott Cudmore and Jonah Falco.
Of note was IKEA’s Aukton, whereby various designers reinvented 20 of the Swedish retailer’s pieces into some pretty snappy creations. I loved the inconspicuous-yet-clever Bibel Hallare (Swedish for “Bible holder”) by Castor — it held an IKEA catalogue, their plucky rationale being that it boasts greater circulation than the (other) black book.
The Design Agency parsed the Svenerik stool into a funky large-scale screen. Mason Studio’s “Elephant in the Room” saw the store’s iconic blue bags turned into a tusked beast. Philip Sparks’ “How to Tie a Bow Tie” took 50 cord sets and lights and turned them into, well, a bow tie. What’s a “Knob Portrait”? That would be Mayor Rob Ford’s puss, crafted out of 983 cabinet knobs and one tabletop, by Paul Raff Studio. (So: “Knob” Ford?) House & Home’s Suzanne Dimma and Mark Challen took two IKEA tulip tables and created a glossy red ping-pong table — the game-changer. A nod to the man of the hour, perhaps?