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Design Connections: Meet Deborah Wang

Debirah Wang Agata Piskunowicz

Agata Piskunowicz

Debirah Wang
'Living Well' exhibition, Toronto Design Offsite Festival 2017 Joanna Lok

Joanna Lok

'Living Well' exhibition, Toronto Design Offsite Festival 2017
'Get Lost' exhibition, Toronto Design Offsite Festival 2017 Nicole Elliott

Nicole Elliott

'Get Lost' exhibition, Toronto Design Offsite Festival 2017
MSDS Studio, Flur, Toronto MSDS


MSDS Studio, Flur, Toronto

14 September 2017
by Deborah Wang

Deborah Wang is one of the 18 international delegates joining us in London this month for this year's Design Connections programme. Find out more about her and her thoughts on design in Canada.

Please tell us about yourself, your work or organisation...

I am an independent curator and designer. I come from a background in architecture and fine art, and with diverse professional experiences that include teaching, mentorship, and built works. A lot of my recent curatorial work is through the Toronto Design Offsite Festival. As Artistic Director, I work collaboratively with a team to develop and execute several projects (e.g. exhibitions, talks, and tours) each year. We also manage an open platform that welcomes designers, artists, galleries, organizations, and institutions to present their work as part of our Festival Week. Our mandate is to advance design culture in Canada. For us, this means supporting local and national designers, but also advancing design culture by interacting with, and learning from, others. This is why international relationships and exchanges are important to us.

What are you working on at the moment?

Since the spring, we've been working on programming the January 2018 Festival Week. This includes several projects such as a thematic exhibition (this year on "matter"), a half-day symposium on designing the future of work, a prototype exhibition that looks at compact living and working, the fourth year of our traveling exhibition 'Outside the Box' (presented with our long-time partner WantedDesign in New York), local studio tours, and our (inaugural) International Guest of Honour program with the British practice Aberrant Architecture. We have so many initiatives on-the-go that my mind is always spinning. Plus, we're thinking about 2019 and beyond. That said, it's always a joy to work with so many creative people, and to create opportunities for artists and designers through the work we do as a non-profit organization.

What are the hot topics in design in your country at the moment? What are the challenges that design or designers are facing in your country at the moment?

Hot topics include the "internet of things," and how technology and data influence design; concern for the environment and working sustainably, not only with regard to the environment, but with people and resources; and with our country's 150 year celebrations, what it means to be Canadian. We are a country that is undergoing an important time of reconciliation with its Indigenous peoples. Challenges are inherent in all of these, especially the latter two: sustainability and nationhood.

Tell us about a designer to watch from your country at the moment and why we should know about their work?

MSDS Studio is definitely a design studio to watch. Based in Toronto, they work on interior environments, as well as products, and are building an international reputation for their work. The duo behind MSDS are also lovely people -- invested in "good design," and thoughtful about the work they create.

What excites you about UK design? What are you looking forward to seeing at the London Design Festival?

I'm not sure I can put my finger on what UK design is specifically, but two words come to mind: smart and bold. I'm looking forward to attending the London Design Festival (for the first time) because I know that I will be overwhelmed with innovative and exciting ideas, experiences, and work.

Each year during London Design Festival (LDF) we invite key design industry figures from around the world to join us for our Design Connections programme. The delegation will take a unique curated tour of the festival, meeting leading UK designers, curators, design organisations as well as discovering new work and gaining new relationships. Find out more about Design Connections here.