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Dedicated to Design

Over at MADE Designsoon to be located at 70 Geary Avenue—you can find innovative new furniture and home good solutions from some of Canada’s hippest designers. Need a simple but sexy overhead light? Check. Want to get caught up in the recent ceramics craze? Click here for some cool, custom cups. At the helm is Shaun Moore, who established the shop in 2005. He’s also supported the city’s design community by founding the Toronto Design Offsite Festival, a rapidly expanding cultural celebration. Moore told us about his upcoming plans for the fair and MADE’s new location.  

You run MADE and are a designer yourself. How do your dual roles impact what you make and how you run the business?

There are definitely two sides to my business. I represent the ready product of independent Canadian designers but also design fully custom furniture. Promoting others’ work usually takes priority over promoting my own. I genuinely get a thrill out of gaining attention for others and I also find selling others’ work to be more satisfying than selling my own. I like the designers that I work with to know that the public wants and values their work.

In my own design work, I mainly produce very custom furniture for my clients. People come to me to solve unusual problems or with cases where they understand that their needs can’t be met through off the shelf solutions. I work very closely with my clients towards their custom projects. I have a very small and trusted group of craftspeople who I work with for production. I always involve myself in the delivery and installation of the work too. It makes it a very personal process for me and I believe it is the same for my clients.         

You will relocate to the West End in June. Describe the appeal of the area and what the new location will do for MADE.

Yes, I am just about to make a move back to the West End and am pretty excited about it. I’ll be moving to Geary Avenue, which is being touted as one of the hottest streets in the city right now. It’s an unusual mix of residential and industrial spaces with a lot of creative businesses, small breweries and distilleries, artists, and even galleries moving into the neighborhood. An opportunity to invest in an amazing building came up, so I jumped at the chance. I had been feeling a rent squeeze on King Street, but in the end, the pressure to move again is a blessing. As well as being my own landlord, this move will give my business long-term location stability and provide an exciting new space that I can invest in as my own. Also, I think that the spirit of the neighborhood suits my business and me a bit better.   

What’s unique about Toronto’s independent design scene, and what keeps you invested in it?

Toronto’s independent design scene is an invigorating place to be right now. It’s extremely friendly and collaborative. There is a major growth spurt happening right now yet it doesn’t seem to be going to anyone’s heads. When I started out here over 10 years ago, the scene was very small and offered few opportunities for independent expression. It’s been exciting to watch things explode and see the world respond to the high quality of design this city (and country) is producing. It’s also been amazing to watch our design scene move towards greater diversity. Toronto is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world yet for a long time our design scene didn’t reflect that. I believe that it’s this intense forward progress that has kept me invested in and excited about things here. 

You’re the chairman of the board for the Toronto Design Offsite Festival. How did you get involved, and any plans for the 2018 iteration yet?

I am one of the Festival founders. I’ve been heavily involved since day one, so the event is important for me. The Festival first formed as a way to cross-promote a small group of design exhibitions. The goal was to bring better attention to independent design in this city through a ‘strength in numbers’ approach. I’m proud that this event has grown from five exhibitions to over 100 design events. 

It’s very early in the planning towards the 2018 Festival but a general theme we are developing is materiality, in terms of the history, properties, and spirit of materials, as well as material resources and reuse. We know that we will continue our TODO Talks Symposium and our annual thematic exhibition. Another project we are working on again is ‘Outside the Box’—our annual traveling exhibition, which may include more stops next year in addition to Toronto and New York. I know that 2018 is already looking to be an exciting year for the Festival.