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Patty Johnson, whose collaboration with a range of Caribbean designers, has produced such unique wares as these modern-organic Tobacco Vases from Jacmel, Haiti.


More than 300 retailers, studios, manufacturers and other exhibitors are taking part in this weekend's Interior Design Show in Toronto. And that doesn't include the lectures, films and concept spaces also on the agenda. To focus your visit and maximize your time, here are 10 Globe Style must-sees that won't disappoint.

Design on ice

You can take in the classics of design before you even enter the Metro Toronto Convention Centre by checking out an unusual display of iconic furnishings rendered on a massive scale – and in ice! – on Front Street. Among the classics depicted are Verner Panton's eponymous chair for Vitra, Le Corbusier's LC2 Chair for Cassina and Eero Saarinen's Womb Chair for Knoll. Cool customers all.

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Power to the people

Need to recharge your iPhone, tablet, laptop or other electronic gadget? Do so in style at the FLOS Power Station, where the lighting company will be previewing Philippe Stark's groundbreaking D'E-light lamp, which doubles as a PDA power source. While your iPad reboots, take in the avant-garde Soft Architecture wall adorning the station as well as the latest lighting marvels by the likes of Citterio, Osgerby & Barber, the Bouroullec brothers and others.

Lissoni in the house

Italian design star Piero Lissoni has fashioned everything from coffee pots to hotel and restaurant interiors to yachts. For IDS12, this year's international guest of honour has also designed a never-before-seen installation evocative of his work. It covers 1,200 square feet and will incorporate signature touches. Be intrigued – very intrigued.

Seeing Rhed

At last year's IDS, Toronto-based rhed, a multidisciplinary design firm led by Del Terrelonge, created a richly detailed lounge featuring a balloon-dropped ceiling, high-density foam walls and perforated-metal accents. If history repeats itself, rhed's 2012 project, a featured exhibit created with the Italian furniture and storage brand Poliform, should be equally sexy, unique and smart.

Condo a-go-go

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In a nod to Toronto's status as the condo-building capital of the Western world – more than 80 cranes currently tower over condominium projects in the city, which is home to at least 170 condo developers – the IDS's first-ever exploration of the trend on the show floor features a dramatic cut-away two-storey "building" demonstrating multi-dwelling living. TAS DesignBuild developed the concept for the exterior shell, a multilevel showcase housing six individual rooms, each of which has been designed and decorated by a different Toronto-based design firm. The exhibit is called How Do You Live?

Lone stars

When it comes to individual exhibitors, every year offers a roster of must-see booths and displays – some well-known and -followed, others below the radar. On this weekend's checklist from both camps are emerging designer Bettie Cott, sustainable-design stalwarts Lars and Jason Dressler, Vancouver-based wallpaper maker Rollout and Montreal's Thien and My Ta Trung, the brother-andsister team behind the Periphere and Domison brands. Supported on sturdy steel rods and available in various colours, Domison's Halifax side tables are new for 2012.

Design on film

Want a brief (and enlightening) respite from the hubbub of the show floor? Slip into any of the fascinating design films on offer this year. Highlights on Saturday, the last day of screenings, include docs about graphic artist Milton Glaser, California architect Donald Wexler and legendary designers Charles and Ray Eames.

Many are Canadian or Toronto premieres.

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Northern exposure

A guaranteed highlight of every IDS, Studio North (this year celebrating its 10th anniversary) showcases a compelling range of Canadian talents exhibiting one-off and custom furniture, lighting, glassware, ceramics and textiles in a gallery-like installation. Among this year's participants is Toronto-based Fishtnk, whose limited-edition Cortical Chair is the result of comprehensive research into structural optimization. Also worth exploring is the corresponding Prototype exhibit, an exclusive preview of independent-studio works not currently in production; if and when these pieces hit showroom floors, you can say you saw them here first.

Hot talk

The breadth and quality of IDS speakers has been a key strength and attraction since the show's inception. On Saturday, that tradition continues, as Globe Style editors and reporters introduce and interview three of design and decorating's leading personalities: London stylemaker William Yeoward, New York designer and blogger Brad Ford and influential merchandiser Aaron Hoey, the man behind the spectacularly creative window displays and funky folkloric branding at boho-chic retailer Anthropologie.

Old hands, new faces

No visit to IDS12 will complete without a stroll through the 10,000-square-foot Offsite/Onsite exhibit, made up of boundary-busting experimental installations by both established and emerging designers. Among them are Brent Comber of B.C., Moss & Lam of Toronto and globetrotting Patty Johnson, whose collaboration with a range of Caribbean designers has produced such unique wares as these modern-organic Tobacco Vases (above) from Jacmel, Haiti.

Offsite/Onsite will also play host to DesignGenNext, an exhibition of work by students at some of Canada's leading design schools.

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