IIDEX 2015

IIDEXCanada is one of Canada's largest design and architecture expositions. Held annually at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre as part of The Buildings Show, IIDEX showcases all areas of design: from hospitality, residential, and retail to landscape architecture, accessibility, and lighting, among many others. 

This was my first year at IIDEX - I had the opportunity to attend The Buildings Show through work - and it was a great learning experience. Aside from exploring the 1,500+ exhibits and booths in the showroom (Finnish lighting brand Secto Design and Newfoundland's Fogo Island Inn were my favourites), I attended a number of lectures and seminars ranging from discussions on the future of retail design and brand experiences to Bauhaus colour theory, including a few important seminars on construction practices in Canada. 

Art in Transit: Integrated Art in Public Transit Design was one of my favourite lectures of the three-day long exposition. Brad Golden of Brad Golden + Co. and Ana-Francesca de la Mora of IBI Group spoke about the importance of incorporating public art into our transit systems. Focusing on the case study of the TYSSE (the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension), they discussed how this new initiative set forth by the TTC is changing the urban fabric of our city. By integrating artists into the design process from the very beginning - in this case, through an open, international competition process - the artist's vision becomes an integral component of the new subway station, something that is often lost in translation during the construction process. Downsview Park, Finch West, York University, Pioneer Village, Highway 407, and Vaughan Metropolitan Centre are the new stations created through the TYSSE Art Program, and are exceptional precedents for the importance of artistic infrastructure in Toronto.

Immersive Brand Experiences: Re-Inventing the In-Store Experience was hosted by Dean Martin and Michelle de Clair of the acclaimed advertising firm Cundari, and proved to be a great introduction to the future of retail design in the digital age. Addressing innovative brand experiences like Frank and Oak and Kit & Ace, Martin and de Clair also discussed the emotional and rational connections necessary to draw in today's technology-driven consumers. A "lifestyle" brand  - where a customer can feel a part of a community -  is the next stage of retail, and traditional retailers will need to adapt to cater to this new shopping behaviour. What I found most interesting, however, was their theory that taking a two-dimensional brand element or logo and re-interpreting it into architecture and form is the best way to immerse a customer in a brand experience, citing Sephora as one of the brands at the forefront of this concept.

IIDEX is a great resource for anyone working within or interested in the design industry. Whether you are searching for new and innovative suppliers, interested in learning about new trends in the industry through celebrated professionals, or just looking to be inspired, IIDEX is well worth a visit.