Journal


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Omar Gandhi Electric Launch

Bringing extraordinary people together to form connections and spark new ideas is the core of our Cultural Hub.

On March 7, we hosted the celebration of a collaboration between Omar Gandhi Architects, Aaline Lighting and Acoustics, Filo Timo and Donohoe Living Landscapes, who launched a new lighting product line at Mason Studio’s Gallery. Magic happens when we collaborate with fellow designers that embody our shared values - our space is flexible for hosting an array of programs.

From product launch to party, the Cultural Hub is a space where we can support collaborator's vision and needs - ensuring the build up is effortless - brick by brick.
We're always open to new opportunities to collaborate and share a space for big ideas. Opening our doors to their teams, industry members and friends provided a sense of place where projects and people shine.

See a recap of the event here.

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Body of Aesthetics

The Cultural Hub at Mason Studio fosters the communication of ideas that contribute to greater discourse through limitless mediums.

This month, the Gallery hosts Body of Aesthetics, curated by interior designer and MFA graduate student at OCAD University Sara Dagovic. The exhibition presents the works of artists Orus Mateo Castaño-Suárez and Artemis Han, who respond to the injustices suffered by the body as it is isolated from the collective and reduced to a means of production, as it is subjected to the medical gaze. Castaño-Suárez and Han turn to digital multi-sensory mediums – including an ASMR experience booth upon entry into the space, and a digital audio-visual installation - to explore meaning-making while navigating the world through illness. Learn more here.

Body of Aesthetics is on from March 15 through 28 - Visit The Gallery at 91 Pelham Avenue, Toronto.

Gallery Hours: Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10 am to 4 pm.

Join Sara, Orus and Artemis on Thursday, March 28 for an artist talk from 6-8 pm. RSVP here.

Photo courtesy of Hansen Brown

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Jovial

The Gallery at Mason Studio is a space where people gather to experience art, connect with others and learn about their community.

We are thrilled to host Jovial from February 8 through 29, 2024 - an exhibition curated by J’don McSween of Capsul Studio. The exhibition features photography by Jerawl Jordan and a large-scale painting by Jade Amaya.

Jovial is a celebration and acknowledgment of Caribbean culture through imagery, calling upon the history of Carnival and stories that make up the heritage of the Caribbean islands. The artists invite community to indulge in the history that made the people of the Caribbean so joyful.

Opening Reception: February 8, 2024 - 7 to 10 pm
The Gallery at Mason Studio - 91 Pelham Avenue, Toronto
On until February 29 - Gallery Hours - see full schedule here.

Mondays and Wednesdays from 10 am to 4 pm
Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am to 3 pm.

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Work From The World : Erin Kinninmont

Team Member: Erin Kinninmont
City/country visited: Amsterdam

Going Dutch (by design). Amsterdam, Netherlands was Mason Studio Project Designer Erin Kinninmont’s locale of choice for her Work From The World venture. From pedaling through the city streets on bicycles or traversing canals, to perusing pops of colour and examining adaptable, sustainable living, Amsterdam offered an abundant learning experience. Always taking it back to their roots, with a vision for the future, Erin grasped Amsterdam’s preservation of heritage in the midst of their human-centred forward-thinking approach.

“Traveling to new places broadens your perspective and exposes you to new cultures which ultimately enhances your understanding and appreciation for design,” Erin says. “*An important takeaway for me is that historical contexts and traditions inform design choices, helping designers to adapt and innovate.”

Read more about Erin’s journey below and take a peek at her journey here.

How has this experience contributed to your knowledge of design?
Traveling to new places broadens your perspective and exposes you to new cultures which ultimately enhances your understanding and appreciation for design. In Amsterdam the long history of canals has greatly influenced the city’s architecture and overall urban planning. The expansion of the canal network in the 17th century led to its dense urban layout resulting in tall, narrow canal houses that the city is now recognised by. An important takeaway for me is that historical contexts and traditions inform design choices, helping designers to adapt and innovate.

What innovations did you witness, experience, engage with?
Amsterdam’s floating homes represent an innovative approach to urban living by embracing the city’s extensive network of canals. These homes built on floating platforms offer several benefits including adaptability to rising sea levels, create an efficient use of urban space, and offers a sustainable lifestyle to its residents. This innovative housing solution integrates harmoniously with the city’s waterways and provides its residence with a unique way of living.

Tell us about any signature elements synonymous with Amsterdam.
Amsterdam is known for its signature architectural elements like narrow, gabled houses with red brick facades with line the city’s canals. Dutch design is also characterized by simplicity, repetition, and functionality. They combine historic architecture with modern furnishings often featuring clean lines and a minimalist aesthetic. Amsterdam blends historic charm with contemporary design elements to create a distinctive style that feels laid back and effortless.

Is there an element of design you’d like to integrate in your practice?
I visited an exhibition created by Dutch design studio Raw Color whose central focus is on the investigation of colour through interdisciplinary projects. The show featured a selection of their work which explores different aspects of colour including density, proportion, translucency and blending. Colour theory is a tool that I would like to integrate into my practice because of its ability to influence people’s perception of space. It can change the way we experience light, size, temperature and mood. This is a design strategy that isn’t often used in Canadian interiors but a practice that I hope to see integrated more often.

How has this experience contributed to the way you think, act and live?
Amsterdam embodies a relaxed, socially connected, and environmentally conscious way of living which inspires me to make changes in the way I live back home. The city’s bike friendly culture promotes physical activity and a sustainable way to commute which is something I would love to integrate into my routine. Amsterdam’s relaxed and community centric values also encourages me to adopt a slower pace and a greater focus on work-life balance.

What aspects of community, inclusion and belonging did you witness or experience within the city/country visited and local culture?
In Amsterdam, community is a central focus in their design approach and takes precedence over aesthetics. This reflects the city’s commitment to fostering strong social connections through design by promoting pedestrian friendly neighbourhoods with shared public spaces such as parks, co-working spaces, squares, and community gardens. Amsterdam’s emphasis on sustainable, accessible and people centric urban planning helps create an environment where residents are more likely to engage with one another and build a strong sense of community.

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Mason Minute with Peng Zheng

My personal floorplan for design is motivated by my interest and curiosity in exploring new things since I was a child. When I grew up, I became deeply interested in the changes of space under different occasions, so I often conceived some interesting designs in my mind. However, I had no concept or confidence about whether this idea could be realized, so I chose to engage in technical drawing design. In this way, I can deeply understand and master the internal composition of the structure and different construction technique, which will better assist me to complete the design inspiration that I pursue in my heart.

I am passionate about creating storytelling for design concepts, telling stories to make people interested in designing products. At the same time, I am also keen on building models and working on construction drawings, which I think is an important stage to verify design ideas.

A design idea that I want to explore further is: to discover new and interesting materials, explore more possibilities of construction technology, adhere to sustainable design, strengthen the interaction between design and people, and try to introduce technology into design.

Design has taught me to not be trapped in inherent thinking and try to solve problems from multiple perspectives. Constantly explore novel concepts and focus on the feelings of the experiencer. Experience the world with my heart.

Design cultivates community and creates a sense of belonging through trying. Experimentation is a good way to verify a design idea, and it is possible to get feedback from the community through continuous experimentation, and in the process of experimenting, new and better ideas may inadvertently emerge, thus making people interested in them and creating a sense of belonging.

Outside of this field of design, I also like music and cooking. I like listening to music. Through different music, I can feel different cultural backgrounds and at the same time comfort my soul. In the field of cooking, I really enjoy the process of cooking, which is like doing the design. Allocate the ingredients, follow the steps, keep trying, and finally adjust the taste I like.

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Getting To Know Our Neighbours

The Gallery at Mason Studio | 91 Pelham Ave, Toronto
November 14 through December 11, 2023

An art exhibition in collaboration with Making Art Making Change
and Davenport-Perth Neighbourhood and Community Health Centre
Inspired by the artwork made by participants in Long Life: Positive HIV Stories, an art project directed by Jonathan Morgan (2003, Cape Town, South Africa) Making Art Making Change (MAMC) facilitated eight two-hour participatory workshops for clients of Davenport-Perth Neighbourhood and Community Health Centre (DPNCHC).

Participants from the DPNCHC +55 community group met weekly to share their stories, lived experiences, memories, and identity in their artwork. Each participant traced their body maps on corrugated cardboard and began to add rich details, textures, imagery, and text as they enthusiastically developed their visual storytelling. Using artist-quality materials, the group built their own “body of work” each week, adding layers of meaning while exploring different techniques.

Visit The Gallery at Mason Studio Monday through Friday, 10 am to 4 pm daily, to experience these incredible art pieces.

Accessibility: The Gallery is located on the first floor, which is accessible from the front entrance of 91 Pelham. Our washrooms are not fully accessible, and upper levels are only accessible via stairs. For questions and more information, please contact ola@masonstudio.com and we would be pleased to discuss how we can help support your visit.

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Mason Minute with Marwa Istanbuli

My personal floorplan for design:
was framed off my curiosity to understand the various environments around me and the emotions they evoked in people. I grew a deeper fascination with the thinking behind these curated spaces and a love for the storytelling crafted within. It was almost like building your childhood fantasy doll house, but in real life and with a purpose to make better. Therefore, interior design became the foundation in my pursuit to create such unique realms for people to experience.

I am passionate about:
the collaborative nature of the field and the impact it has over the quality of our work and the betterment of the community at large. In working directly with the local tradespeople, craft folk, and artists, I’m able to create unique singular interiors interwoven into the local context, whilst giving back to the community.

A design idea that I want to explore further is:
textural complexity within the space. I’m continually exploring unconventional ways of layering materiality to challenge the expected narrative in each space and craft compelling tensions and movements within.

Design has taught me that:
there are no wrong ideas, just unrefined ones. With more experience and trial and error, I’ve started to instinctively understand from the outset how the space is going to look once it’s completed and make design decisions accordingly. The design process, therefore, is one of editing, refining, and bringing the clients and collaborators along the way to achieve the final result.

I use design:
to create purposeful and unique experiences for everyday users while challenging the status quo. Design is a way for me to lay out my perspectives and life learning into something more tangible and impactful to the surrounding community. As such, design becomes a form of self expression.

Design cultivates community and creates a sense of belonging through:
Recognition. It’s very important for designers to recognize the value of the project’s local culture, history, and social psychology and aim to integrate it into the design, from the broadest stroke to the most granular detail. Only then, do we create environments that help cultivate lifelong connections with the community and future collaborators.

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Work From The World: Tannaz Torabi

“I sense a notable transformation in my thinking patterns as I strive to cultivate a distinct vision and streamline my thoughts, by removing unnecessary items and focusing on the core whys and hows,” says Mason Studio Project Designer, Tannaz Torabi.

That was one of many insights Tannaz received during her first-time visit to Copenhagen, Denmark for Mason Studio’s Work From The World program. The initiative provides Mason Studio team members the opportunity to be sent anywhere they choose in the world to work for a week, returning to bring knowledge and inspiration to all client projects and amongst their colleagues.

Tannaz visited Copenhagen in June 2023, where she participated in 3daysofdesign – a festival that provides a platform for both emerging and established design brands from Denmark and abroad to share their talent. Hundreds of exhibitors welcome guests into their spaces to discover new and beloved collections of furniture, lighting, accessories and materials. Events, panel discussions, dining experiences and other adventures abound. While sojourning with international designers and Danes alike, Tannaz was inspired by the local industry’s commitment to quality craftsmanship.

“Danish designers are gifted in designing furniture, decorative elements that feels timeless and lighting fixtures (both architectural and decorative),” she says. “Simplicity still feels enough. It is welcoming and draws attention to details. I engaged with spaces, creators and their concepts behind developing their design ideas and their innovative thinking on use of materials, to their inventions around material application.

Tannaz is always on-the-go. An avid traveler that has moved around a lot over the years, this venture taught her to be a bit more cautious around consumption. It reminded her the importance of keeping things simple, to question the source and sustainability of products, and their societal and environmental impact. Over the course of her total two weeks in CPH, Tannaz grew inspired by the many like-minded peers around her; kind people who are solid listeners that demonstrate an exceptional level of precision in their work. “I learned that Danes are highly collaborative individuals, and they thrive on mutual learning and exchange of ideas across diverse design disciplines.”

Tannaz had more invigorating moments in Denmark – check out key anecdotes below and stay tuned for the next journal entry for Work From The World!

Copenhagen made a mark: to be open-minded, receptive to all diversity, culture, lifestyle, and eager to learn from their experiences.
Why Tannaz selected Copenhagen for this design venture: their less-but-better approach in life and consequently in their lifestyle.
Core research was done through: sites visited, meetings held, people met that had a general idea of all places she would like to see and meet, including individuals from Norm Architects, Note Design, MUUTO and Pas Normal Studios (cycling brand).

Tannaz is curious to learn more about: collaboration between diverse teams, how to support colleagues of diverse background and disciplines.
Innovation was found in: experiencing spaces that are designed to support users’ well-being.
Follow Tannaz Torabi @tannaz.torabi

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IDC Summer Mixer 2024

On July 13, Mason Studio Co-Founder and Executive Director, Ashley Rumsey, and Design Director, Marti Gallucci, joined Interior Designers of Canada's Executive Director, Trevor Kruse for an insightful panel at Euro Tile and Stone.

It was a pleasure to connect with industry members, share knowledge and explore big ideas. They engaged in a layered conversation with IDC CEO, Trevor Kruse, about art, design and collaboration in practice. Ashley and Marti delved into these elements, highlighting Mason Studio’s design projects, installations, exhibitions and community engagement. ⁠

Thanks to all who attended, reached out and engaged with thoughtful questions and open, inspiring dialogue! Photo by Nick Wons.

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Mason Minute with Takako Daros

Takako Daros was one of Mason Studio’s awesome interns over summer 2023. She is currently in her fourth year at Toronto Metropolitan University. While at Mason Studio, Takako developed her confidence and professional mindset by immersing herself in several projects, collaborating with the design teams and gaining hands-on experience.
Born in Sapporo, Japan and based in Toronto, Takako is particularly passionate about the beauty of imperfections through various materials. “They add character, depth, and a unique quality to spaces, making them feel authentic and rich in history while reducing waste in the design industry,” Takako adds.

Read on below to learn more about Takako’s design journey. Follow Takako on Instagram (@takakodaros)

My personal floorplan for design: comes from exposure to different cultures. I have deepened my appreciation for cultural diversity by travelling domestically and abroad to cities and towns and seeing natural landscapes; moving to Canada from Japan further allows me to see daily life from a new perspective as a minority. All these experiences drive me to create spaces that embrace inclusivity and prioritize the well-being of individuals from diverse backgrounds.

I am passionate about: the beauty of imperfections such as wood knots, irregular pattern stones, and sacred leather. They add character, depth, and a unique quality to spaces, making them feel authentic and rich in history while reducing waste in the design industry.
A design idea that I want to explore further is: sensory-rich design by carefully curating tactile, auditory, and olfactory experiences in environments that are inviting and enriching to individuals.

Design has taught me: to empathize with the end-users, understanding their needs, desires, and emotions. This human-centered approach extends to my daily life; I discover unique details, textures, and nuances that often go unnoticed by others.

Design creates a sense of community – here is a moment where it resonated most: I used to go to the Toronto Reference Library when I came to Toronto, feeling alienated in this country, but the library was my sanctuary then. The well-designed library is an important anchor in individuals' lives, offering access to knowledge together with a sense of belonging and connection to the community, even in a new and unfamiliar place.
A hobby of mine includes: going to art museums and galleries; It's a beautiful way to feed my curiosity, find inspiration, and nourish my soul. I'll enjoy my continued journeys through the world of art!

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