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Now on! Design by Nature 2014 Exhibit at Evergreen Brick Works

Cayuga, Best of Show(Toronto, ON)  On Thursday, October 16th the 3rd annual Design by Nature international competition, generously sponsored by Teknion, will celebrate this year’s winners and finalists at Evergreen Bricks Works. The event will kick-off with an invitation- only gala followed by the public launch of the two month long exhibition. 

After receiving a record-breaking 118 submissions for this year’s competition, the jury selected seven outstanding proposals promoting sustainable design – the majority of which were made from discarded city wood salvaged from 2013’s ice storm and ash wood infestation.

“Every year we are stunned by the high quality of submissions and growing awareness of the program,” enthuses Matthew Cohen, founder of Design by Nature. “This year has totally blown our expectations out of the water. The talent on display at this year’s exhibition bodes well for a very bright future of compelling, expansive, innovative uses with existing materials. We are thrilled.”

Chosen for their overall concept, adaptability of design, and creative re-use of ingredients their creations span a wide range of concepts. From refined modular furniture to provocative sculptural statements, an imaginative combination of materials – from discarded wine corks and straw to ground tires and blackened steel – are accentuated by natural beauty.

“This year’s designs reflect strongly on the creative diversity of art, sculptor and furniture,” says co-founder Sue Madsen. “The final seven stood out because of their unexpected re-imagining of reclaimed materials married with beautifully executed design.”

Design by Nature is an annual, rotating design competition that promotes innovative public art, sculpture and functional furniture through a creative re-imagination of salvaged materials. The exhibition will be on display in indoor and outdoor public spaces across the Evergreen Brick Works site until December.

Founding and Program Sponsors: Teknion and Evergreen

Community Partners: ReStore GTA, Urban Tree Salvage and Trashswag

Printing Sponsor: Bullseye Marketing

For more images and descriptions of winners: designxnature.ca/past-finalists/








Announcing the Winners of Design by Nature 2014!

We are thrilled to announce the seven winning proposals for Design by Nature 2014!

Our call for proposals asked for innovative furniture, public art and sculptural installations using a creative re-imagination of pre-existing and “resource-based” materials. We received an incredible 118 submissions, the majority of which were functional furniture made from discarded city wood. Our jury considered each submission equally against the judging criteria and after a long day of heated debate, the following proposals were selected for their overall design concept, creative re- use of materials and adaptability of design.

The artists are currently building these pieces to go on display this fall at Evergreen Brick Works from mid – September to the end of November. We congratulate the winners of 2014 and welcome them to a long lineage of talented artists whose work has been displayed at Evergreen Brick Works through DxN.

We also thank all those who submitted to this year’s competition. We deeply appreciate the time and effort that went into your proposal and encourage you to re-submit next year.

Now….the winners of 2014!




Winning Category: Best of Show
Name of Piece: Cayuga
Artist: Miles Keller – Dystil
Dimensions: 60” wide x 62” deep x 17- 27” high (per unit)
Materials: Seat Deck: salvaged wood from The City of Toronto (ice storm and or ash borer) Base: a lightweight composite of cement/ wood chips (City of Toronto wood yard) and straw.

Cayuga is a modular outdoor (and indoor) public seating system. Its sculptural puzzle-like shape allows for multiple configurations creating an undulating topography that speaks to the multiple layers of glacial till that form the landscape in this part of southern Ontario. The wood seating deck (utilizing salvaged wood) is warm, friendly and inviting. The cement/ wood composite base is solid, durable and references the kind of technology used to form the bricks produced in the Brickworks kilns. The idea is to employ something we have been experimenting with, a hybrid of cement, wood chips from The City of Toronto wood lots and straw. This will produce a super strong and durable cement composite (essentially a hybrid sustainable indigenous technology) that should stand up well to outdoor public use.



Winning Category: Finalist
Name of Piece: Watershed Erratics
Artist: Scott Barker
Dimensions: 2.1M X 0.9M
Materials: Wood, lag bolts, steel, paint

This artwork presents two tall buoys, a left hand and right hand, at odds with each other and whimsically out of place on dry ground. They are inspired by flood events at the Evergreen Brickworks and in the lower Don Valley that are widely reported but experienced by few. They present the Brickworks as a flooded site and are a starting point for further contemplation of the effects of rapid construction of urban hardscapes on the vulnerable Don River watershed system. Constructed of salvaged local wood from recent extreme weather events painted red and green, this sculpted pair takes the iconic form of port and starboard upstream navigation buoys.




Winning Category: Finalist
Name of Piece: RE:FRAME
Artist: Mark Grimsrud, Design + Build + Grow
Dimensions: 2.4m(L) x .5m(W) x .45m(H) (As one bench) or 4m(L) x 1m(W) x .45m(H) (As two benches)
Materials: Waste construction 2x4s, threaded rod, bolts + washers

RE:FRAME is constructed out of waste 2×4 lumber from common construction sites. Each year Ontario construction activities produce over 1 million tonnes of waste, 30% of which is wood, including the ubiquitous 2×4. The 2x4s were initially used for temporary fall guards but then find themselves headed to the landfill or down-cycled into mulch. By diverting the 2x4s, Re:frame extends their useful life and continues to sequester carbon.

RE:FRAME is a simple piece of furniture that can accommodate multiple ways of seating, lounging and interacting. In contrast to the standard community park bench, where social engagement is limited, RE:FRAME encourages face-to-face socializing and relaxing. It is appropriate for both private and public spaces as it can handle the weather and wear and tear of the community.

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Winning Category: Finalist
Name of Piece: STRATA
Artists: The National Design Collective with John MacLeod
Dimensions: 16″ Diameter, 18″ tall (each piece)
Materials: Used concrete, ground wine corks, wood chips, ground tires and sawdust from urban trees.

The strata seating is inspired by the stratum and the stratigraphy drawing in the quarry at the Brick Works. With a form mimicking core samples, multiple discarded materials are re-purposed to create different layers of the seat. Used concrete aggregate is mixed with a small percentage of fresh cement to create a stable base. The top seating surface is created from ground wine corks mixed with ligning (a byproduct of wood processing). This creates a soft, warm platform. The middle two layers are made of made from wood chips and ground tires. The sawdust is from our shop and would otherwise be discarded. This includes wood from the city of Toronto taken down due to the Emerald Ash Borer (through Urban Tree Salvage). The tires are found in the neighborhood around our studio. The seat is sealed for outdoor use. The four seats work together, and each seat is movable to accommodate impromptu meetings or can be used for more solitary situations.


Winning Category: Finalist
Name of Piece: Lynx Constellation Table
Artist(s): Andre Joyau, Heptagon Creations
Dimensions: 88“ L x 37“ D x 16“ H
Materials: reclaimed hardwood, black steel

Functionally flexible, two separate tables of three and four blocks are arranged closely together to appear as one larger table. It is made with ebonized solid wood and bronzed and blackened steel legs.



Winning Category: Winner
Name of Piece: ASH.A356.0
Artist (s): Jeff Forrest, Stacklab
Dimensions: Tulip Stool: 16″W x 16″L x 19″H / Bar Stool: 16″W x 16″L x 30″H
Materials: Ash crippled by emerald ash borer, Recycled Aluminium

ASH.A356.0 is a stool made from over 90% non-virgin materials.
We are industrial designers, based in downtown Toronto. Over the past three years, we have designed and developed a variety of cast metal furniture components. To date, we have used CNC milled patterns and sand moulds in order to produce our castings.Recently, we have been experimenting with non-traditional mould-making media. Some of our most interesting outcomes have come from pouring molten A356.0 Aluminium directly into wood moulds. While these castings retain the general form of the mould, they have an unpredictable surface finish on all sides that results from the wood charring and burning as it comes in contact with the molten metal. This testamentary surface finish is the focal point of ASH.A356.0.

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Winning Category: Winner
Name of Piece: Sleep Shapes
Artist(s): Matthew Blunderfield & Daniel Gruetter, danielgruetter.com and blndrfld.tumblr.com
Dimensions: 0.5m x 2.5m x 1.2m
Materials: furniture-grade off-cuts, construction waste (lumber and plywood)

Sleep Shapes are sympathetic objects. Their varied forms reflect the contours of the body, and combine to create topographies of repose. Each piece suggests a particular ergonomic arrangement, while simultaneously engaging the user to find their spot within an undulating terrain. Together, the objects work as social shapes to encourage playful interaction amongst users. This public sculpture / furniture is composed of two types of material: construction waste (plywood and lumber), and high-quality, furniture-grade off-cuts. The solid wood off-cuts are high-grade scrap material diverted from the considerable waste of local wood shops, and are particularly important to re-use as the wood is a high-energy, resource-intensive and costly material. The construction waste consists of plywood and lumber sourced from ample construction bins across the city, including the Habitat for Humanity ReStore and Trashswag. These latter materials are used to create the framing of each Sleep Shape. The off-cuts are then dimensioned and joined to the frame, generating the curves required by the pieces. Stable and sustainable, Sleep Shapes would be an apt addition to the Brick Works site as a public sculpture which draws awareness to types of waste production that are often overlooked, while simultaneously displaying the fruits of recycling and refurbishment. Furthermore, as public furniture, Sleep Shapes would foster a heightened sense of pedestrian engagement and delight.

A Truck Load of Salvaged Materials for 100 in 1 Day

100 in 1 Day "Trash Collection Intervention" with Emerging ARTivists, Jessica Myers of Trashwag and Lori Smith

100 in 1 Day Trash Collection Intervention

We scavenged, hunted and scoured the streets of Toronto looking for discarded materials left on the curb and triumphantly returned with a truck load of salvaged gems. The findings will be re-purposed into a permanent pubic art installation in Thorncliffe, R.V. Burgess park called “Picture This” – a project by the Emerging ARTivists

 and STEPS Initiative.

What did we find? Old scraps of wood perfect for cladding, turquoise tiles, wooden shutters, colorful mason jars, an antique table, wooden chairs, hoola hoops, plastic tubes, books, toys and more!

It was a salvaging success and we thank the organizers of 100 in 1 day for making it part of 178 incredible interventions happening in Toronto.  We also thank the youth of Emerging ARTivists, the STEPS Initiative and professional salvagers - Gavin Cameron, founder of Trashswag and fellow Trashswagger, Jessica Myers, for their relentless pursuit in collecting materials on a hot and sunny day. Can hardly wait to see the results!





“Picture This”: A Project by Emerging ARTivists

“There is just garbage everywhere” says Masooma Shah, 17. “There is nowhere to hang out. It’s dirty, or in the library…no one lets us talk there,” says Zarnab Afzal, 16.

Thorncliffe_picture frame_Nov_23_resized

“Picture This” Bench, R.V. Burgess Park, Thorncliffe
by Emerging ARTivists

The Emerging ARTivists are making some changes to their local park and Design by Nature is lending a hand. Tired and frustrated by the lack of welcoming spaces and litter in the area, the arts youth group in Thorncliffe decided a little art might instill a sense of pride in their community. The project is called “Picture This” – a large framed bench made with salvaged materials. The larger frame will be made of several individual frames, each uniquely designed by the youth. The goal is to bring attention to litter in the park and offer a safe and welcoming refuge to passerby’s.

Design Charrette Cropped

Andrew Chiu and Car Martin leading a design charrette for youth.

Design by Nature has been working with the STEPS Initiative

 since last fall of 2013 to bring the project to life. We recruited Andrew Chiu to lead the youth in a design process. Andrew is an architectural designer, painter and artist and one of the founding members of Toronto Public Space Committee and Open Cities – grassroots organizations that promote urban inclusivity and diversity. He is also actively involved with Art Starts and a key member of the De-Fence Project.

Currently, “Picture This” is well underway. The City of Toronto has given the bench a big “thumbs up” and the final installation will happen sometime in late September, 2014. In the meantime, Design by Nature and Trashswag will be helping the youth scavenge the city for salvageable materials left on the streets for the #100in1 day festival on June 7th. Check out our 100in1day intervention to learn more.

Design by Nature Re-imagine’s Toronto for 100 in 1 Day

100 in 1 day festivalDesign by Nature is excited to partner with Trashswag and the STEPS initiative for Toronto’s very first 100 in 1 day - a citizen driven festival to re-imagine your city. There are more than 170 “interventions” such as silent disco parties in the streets, de-fencing programs, hugging stations and “homes in the park”. To join the fun, Design by Nature, along with Emerging ARTivists and fellow trashswaggers, will be collecting salvageable “trash” left on the streets and transforming these materials into public art and/or functional furniture for designated community projects.

How you can help
Its easy! The next time you see an old door, piece of furniture, or anything that can be re-purposed and has been left on the streets, please submit a report to Trashswag - a crowdsourced map of architectural salvage.

How to submit a report
You can submit a report by downloading the Trashswag app to your phone or sending a tweet and photo to @trashswag with any of the following hashtags: #dxnto #teacycle #upcycling #curbalert #dumpsterdiving #crowdsourcing

How it Works
Reports get posted to an online map of Toronto and become a free resource of materials for upcyclers, furniture makers and artists.  The more you post,  the less we waste and the more creative potential is made. So make sure to post on June 7th and don’t stop there. Keep posting after June 7th too!

Materials We Need
We are helping the Emerging ARTivists, an arts youth group in Thorncliffe, collect and find discarded materials to build a permanent art installation in their park called “Picture This“. If you see any of the following discarded materials on the street, please use the hashtag #teacycle when submitting a report via twitter.

drainage pipes
scraps of wood
colourful plastic

pennies, colourful bottle caps
wine corks
metals and sheet metal
old tennis or ping pong balls
discarded electronics
discarded colored paint
What Will Be the End Result?

  1. A map of Toronto full of salvageable materials left on the streets – check it out!
  2. Artists collecting those materials for various art, community and upcycling projects
  3. An art installation in Thorncliffe, Burgess Park made with found materials called “Picture This
  4. A robust listing of locally sourced materials for your amazing submission to Design by Nature!

For more information about 100 in 1 Day, visit 100in1day.ca/toronto

DxN 2014: up, up, and at ‘em!


Matthew Cohen, Scott Eunson (2 x winner) and Sina Zapfe.

It’s been a busy winter over here at Design by Nature HQ, as we whiled away all those chilly months planning big improvements for the program for 2014.  A brand new look, an expanded prize structure, and several new community partners mark an exciting year of growth for us.

2013 saw many milestones reached for DxN, including a doubling of submission totals, a truly outstanding roster of winning pieces, and the publishing of our first ever annual report

. So where do we go from here? Up, up, and at ‘em, of course!

This year we are exploring a theme of resource-based art, expanding the focus of the program from one based purely on the re-use existing materials to include a consideration of materials that are available locally that if not put to use will otherwise be redundant. These include wood from the City that came down in the ice storm last year, as well as materials available from new program partners Habitat for Humanity and Trashwag. It’s a new twist on the same basic idea: to encourage new, relevant, city-enhancing art and furniture to be made from materials otherwise overlooked or discarded. Beyond these sources, we encourage you to find your own, whether you’re a dumpster diver, clearing out your great aunt’s attic or get excited about debris found at one of Toronto’s many construction sites. Either way the song remains the same: to encourage the creation of beautiful, original, provocative art for the city from waste.

With the addition of five new prizes this year, for a total of nine, DxN aims to broaden its reach into a rich collection of pieces going forward. It also looks likely that the exhibition will travel beyond the Brick Works following its fall launch, thereby further increasing exposure for the program and its winners.

We are very excited to see the inspiring, creative submissions that roll in this year. This is the chance to experiment, to reimagine, to go beyond the norm in creating unique art that demonstrates the virtues and value to be found in materials long since left for waste. With the truly awesome talent continuing to emerge in the local makers community in this city and beyond, one thing is for sure – it’s going to be another amazing year for Design by Nature and our growing community.


Snow, Ice and our exhibit for TO DO in the Junction

Design by Nature was thrilled to be a part of the fourth annual Toronto Design Offsite Festival -  a festival promoting local artists and design in venues throughout the city.  It was our first time venturing from the Brick Works and bringing the DxN exhibit to a new location in Toronto.  We felt right at home in the Junction at Neill Cunningham’s Panedomium Books & Discs.

Our exhibit received some great coverage in Design Lines Magazine

 and a steady stream of visitors during the two week long display from January 13-31, 2014.  We also had a fantastic turn out for our opening night party on January 22nd. Thank you to all the artists and folks who trooped through the snow and cold - that was real dedication!

Of course, none of this would have been possible without the generous support of Neill Cunningham and his amazing staff at Panedomium Books & Discs and our amazing reception food sponsor - The Sweet Potato. This local organic neighbourhood grocer was kind enough to stock us with plenty of fruit, vegetables, dips, coffee and tea for the event.  We also had a sweet donation from Toronto Wheat grass  – a local delivery service for home grown wheat grass. All in all, it was one healthy reception.

Pictures always speak louder than words, so below are some gorgeous photos capturing the magic of the evening by Danielle Griscti. Enjoy!

Check out more photos or follow us flickr.

Winners of DxN 2013 and works on display include:

  1. Jeff Forrest of STACKLAB - “Cast Composite Cubes
  2. Yvonne Popovska, Aleksandra Popovska, and Leland Dadson of PopTarts - “BeeHive
  3. Scott Eunson of Scott Eunson Studios - “End Grain Block Bench
  4. Luc Johnston, Joseph Sauvé and Nan Chao of Lloyd London Studios (email only) - ”Unearthed




Opening Party in the Junction for Toronto Design Offsite Festival

Join us on January 22nd, 6 to 8 pm to celebrate Design by Nature’s exhibit in the Junction at the Toronto Design Offsite Festival.

The exhibit features the works of Scott Eunson; Yvonne Popovska, Aleksandra Popovska, and Leland Dadson; Jeff Forrest; Nan Chao and Luke Johnston. All pieces are made with a minimum of 50% salvaged materials and seek to push the boundaries of sustainable design through an innovative approach to public art.

Healthy, organic snacks generously provided by The Sweet Potato 

When: Wednesday, January 22nd, 6-8 pm

Where: Pandemonium Books & Discs, 2920 Dundas Street West, Toronto

Plus, visit other exhibits in the neighbourhood followed by TO DO’s opening party at SMASH!

End-Grain Block Bench by Scott Eunson

End-Grain Block Bench by Scott Eunson Studios

Beehive Hotel

Beehive Hotel by PopTarts

Cast Composite Cubes

Cast Composite Cubes by STACKLAB


Unearthed by Lloyd London Studios

> Read more details about Design by Nature’s exhibit at TO DO

Lots “TO DO” in the Junction

Junction at Keele and Dundas WestThinking of visiting the Junction for Toronto Design Offsite Festival (TO DO), January 20 – 26th?

Below is a list of all the exhibits in the area – including Design by Nature’s exhibit.

And don’t forget! Join us for our opening reception on January 22nd, followed by TO DO’s opening party at SMASH.

All good reasons to come to the Junction right?

TO DO exhibits in the Junction

Window installations

Special Events


Photo by Chris Tyler from Toronto, via Wikimedia Commons

Design by Nature announces exhibit at Toronto Design Offsite Festival


We are happy to announce the Design by Nature exhibit will continue to be on display in the Junction for the Toronto Design Offsite Festival.

All pieces featured in the exhibit consist of a minimum content of 50% recycled materials and seek to push the boundaries of sustainable design through an innovative approach to public art.

Visit us during store hours until the end of January or join us on Wednesday, January 22nd and see the incredible works of Jeff Forrest; Yvonne Popovska, Aleksandra Popovska, and Leland Dadson; Scott Eunson;  Nan Chao and Luke Johnston.

Mon, Jan 13, 2014 – Fri, Jan 31, 2014

Window viewing 24 hours; from indoors: Monday to Wednesday 11am-7pm, Thursday & Friday 11am-8pm, Saturday 10am-7pm, Sunday 11am-5pm

Pandemonium Books & Discs
2920 Dundas Street West, Toronto

Reception Party
Wed, Jan 22 | 6-8pm

Design by Nature is a recurring, rotating, juried exhibition of design, public art and furniture at Evergreen Brick Works.

We are pleased to recognize the works of  four winners for this exhibit:

Cast Composite Cubes

STACKLAB’s Cast Composite Cubes: A collection of four concrete composite cubes that have industrial volumes ‘subtracted’ from 3 or more of their 6 surfaces. The pieces are suitable for both indoor and outdoor uses: low + high seating, side tables, coffee tables and sculpture.

Beehive Hotel

PopTarts’ Beehive: To encourage pollinators in the Toronto region to inhabit and reproduce as well as create an art project that would have a contemporary form and stand as a beautiful ‘beehive’ sculpture. The beehive would be constructed using 100% recycled, corrugated cardboard, bees would nest in the summer and then vacate in the fall after the cocoons have been harvested.

UnearthedProposal for Unearthed in Junction

Lloyd London Studio’s UnearthedEnvisioned as both seating and play area, Unearthed aims to instill a sense of discovery and intrigue for the repeat visitor to the Evergreen Brick Works. At Pandemonium, there will be a free-standing element which showcases a video and acts as seating for kids, in the children’s book section. The video shows the process of the bench while still maintaining its playful nature. The thin ‘fins’ on the corners of the bench are bookmarks which people can take and mimics the erosion of the Unearthed bench.

End-Grain Block Bench small

Scott Eunson Studios’ End Grain Block BenchA solid block assembled from massive timbers is CNC carved with a pattern derived from microscopic end-grain. The cells are scaled so that they function as places to sit.  An emphasized materiality combined with an organic complexity aims to give a new understanding of wood, its physical qualities, structure and patterns.