How do we build a better future? Design Exchange, with the United Nations Development Programme and some of the globe’s top creatives, launches a 10-day expo of design, innovation and technology to answer just that.

The festival’s embrace of fresh ideas is evident right from its unconventional venue: the former Unilever soap factory located near the foot of the Don River. The beautifully ruinous 13,935-square-metre-space, filled with rusted vats and metal catwalks, still smells faintly of laundry detergent.

But that’s not to say the expo’s programming skews squeaky-clean. Upon entry, photography by Paolo Pellegrin asserts that conflict has become the dominant theme of our time. The visuals act as the backdrop to the opening exhibition, “Prosperity for All,” in which multidisciplinary designer Bruce Mau – showing info-graphics, objects and project imagery –proposes a counter-narrative framed around our recent successes as a society.

The topics broached upstairs expand on this optimism. On the “Shelter” floor, for example, Italian architect Carlo Ratti explores how nature can be thoughtfully reintroduced into urban environments. The “Care” floor – the brainchild of physician Julielynn Wong – is packed with game changing gizmos ready to save lives. (Think solar-powered 3D printers manufacturing medical supplies on-demand in remote communities.) And in floor six’s “Nourish” display, the obesity epidemic and world hunger is tackled. Protein-rich cricket bolognese, anyone?

Categories: Festival

East Harbour

21 Don Roadway
Toronto, ON M5K 1B2


Sep 28-Oct 8