DESIGNING TORONTO, BY WAY OF HELSINKI

In Arts & Life /

By Mark Medley

Starting today, Ryerson’s Faculty of Communication and Design will be hosting the Canadian premiere of Process and Product, an exhibition that spotlights contemporary architecture and design from the city of Helsinki.

Process and Product centres around two different exhibitions: Cool Dozen, which focuses on, among other things, Finnish furniture, textiles and glassware; and Helsinki Contemporary Urban Architecture – Photographs by Jussi Tiainen, an exhibition of 100 photographs that has toured various European cities since 2001.

“We are calling this exhibition Process and Product, where the process is the active work in progress of our students and the products are the … fantastic designs of Finland,” says Barbara Vogel, the associate chair of the School of Interior Design. “It’s a great privilege to have this exhibition here.”

Plans to bring the exhibition to Ryerson have been underway since last year. Helsinki Contemporary Urban Architecture focuses on the photography of Jussi Tiainen, a renowned photographer of contemporary architecture. His work has been shown in Canada, the United States, China and various European countries. “He’s considered one of the leading architecture photographers (in Finland),” says Johanna Lemola, a representative from the city of Helsinki who is in Toronto for the event.

“If there’s any significant new building, it’s usually Jussi Tiainen that photographs the building. “(Tiainen) calls Helsinki the Mecca of contemporary architecture.” The invitation-only opening reception will take place tonight, and various dignitaries from the city of Helsinki and Ryerson University will be attending.

On Jan. 26, Professor Pentti Kareoja from the Helsinki University of art and design will give a lecture entitled “Identity Through Spatial Narrative.” A panel discussion moderated by Lisa Rochon, architectural critic for the Globe and Mail, will follow. The other panelists will include architects, professors and photographers.

During the course of the exhibition, students from the School of Interior Design will also have a chance to display their own work. Student involvement will also take place through multi-disciplinary charrettes, collaborative meetings used to solve design problems, beginning Friday and winding up on Sunday.

Participants will be asked to develop a way for Ryerson to integrate the campus into downtown Toronto, focusing specifically on the area around Yonge and Gould streets. “We are trying to find the way that Ryerson University will be visible and identifiable from Yonge Street,” Vogel says. Sarah Turnbull, president of the interior design student council, says involvement in the charrettes is not exclusive to students enrolled in the school of art and design.

Turnbull says organizers hope and encourage students from other faculties to take part in the charrettes. Process and Product runs from Jan. 25 to Feb. 10 at the Ryerson School of Interior Design, 302 Church St.

The lecture and panel discussion take place on Jan. 26 at 7 p.m. in the Rogers Communication Centre, Eaton Room.

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