Planning a trip to Toronto

Hey, peeps from/used to be from Toronto!

Every year the student chapters of IDSA+AIGA @ CMU hosts a trip to a designerly city to visit firms, see sights, and broaden our horizons. (In the past: SF, Chicago, NY…). This year we’re intending to go to Toronto. I had a few questions and was wondering if anyone had the knowledge/info! We are planning on going the weekend of OCTOBER 15-19.

  1. Firms to visit! We compiled a list that is about 45 firms long (from Core Directory, Googling, etc), but we’d like to hear some recommendations from people on this board (I’m sure 10 of those firms are no longer operational, too).

  2. Sights to see! Especially designerly things. Showrooms? Monuments? Museums? Local arts+crafts fair?

  3. Things to do! Similar to the previous one. Are there any design events happening during the weekend we’ll be there (that you know of? I’ll be back asking again as we get nearer to the date)?

  4. Any other tips?

Thanks a lot! Maybe we’ll see you there? And please let us know if your firm/company would let us visit! We’ve got a lot of excited and bright students eager to talk to professionals. :slight_smile:

OK, TO representing here -

  1. Only know a few smaller firm, but you probably got them. I’m not actually that into the toronto ID community as sorta in my own industry (footwear) and out of the loop. Only thing on top of my head is Umbra, and I know the design director and can put you in touch if you like. If my own firm wasn’t just me in my loft, (nothing to see) I’d have you :slight_smile:

2/3/4. Some ideas, just off the top of my head-
DX, Design Exchange
ROM, Royal Ontario Museum
AGO, Art Gallery of Ontario
Gardiner Museum, Ceramics Museum, right across from The ROM
Made, great local design shop showcasing local designs
Ministry of the Interior, good design shop
Smash!, vintage/salvage shop/gallery really cool
Distillery District, lots of galleries and a cool design shop
Queen West West / Parkdale area, lots of galleries
Swipe design bookstore
St. Lawrence Market on Sundays (I think it is) has a nice antique market in the North Bldg. Saturday is the food market in the N and S Bldgs.

Stay at the Drake Hotel or Gladstone if you can. Super cool boutique hotels and not that expensive and in a cool area with lots of galleries

Check out and for events/more

I can also offer some great restaurant tips if need be, but not sure your budgets/size of group.

If still going (dunno the fall schedule), check out my fave pinup lifedrawing class,

Will add more as they pop into my head. Welcome to TO, sure you will dig it! There is tons to do. Unfortunately lots of the more local things (craft fairs, shows, etc. might not be listed this early).

If you do go out for drinks or something some night, would for sure be up to hooking up for a chat. You can PM/email me, closer to the event (have no idea this far ahead where I’ll be).


Thanks for all the tips and advice. And I know all of the ID kids here would love to get a drink with you. We’ll contact you as we get closer. Thanks! This helps our planning a lot.

Please for the love of god go visit these folks:

Thanks Rkuchinsky! That’s a pretty thorough list you’ve provided us and will really help when we’re trying to flesh out this trip later.

We usually get a lot of interest for the fall IDSA/AIGA trip so all together we’ll probably be around 50 people. In terms of location, is there a specific district or neighborhood that is central to most design firms or has a great cultural scene? The Drake Hotel looks really nice, but sadly we’ll most likely be staying in a hostel or a cheaper hotel. If you or anyone else could direct us to one that would save a lot of hassle.

What exactly is the best mode of transportation for getting around the city? Bus, subway, walking?

We’ll definitely be out for drinks one (or all) of those nights, so if you’re available it’d be great to meet up (not with all 50 of us of course).


Figured the Drake may be a bit expensive for the students. I don’t know any personally, but know there are a bunch in the city.

This is one that is a good location, but I know nothing about what it is like

Queen West is probably the area you want to be in, as is close to a lot of the things mentioned and tons of good shopping, bars, etc.

Getting around is pretty easy with public transport and walking. Subways and streetcars got you covered.

Let me know closer to the date to hook up for drinks.


Hi guys

We’ve finalized the dates for our trip: October 14-16. Any other tips about Toronto/firms/whatever design during that time would be great!

R- I’ll send you a PM/email so we can talk about meeting up!


just emailed you back. Looking forward to being in touch.


Sooooo, did you have a good time ?

I’d love to know what you thought of the cit. What was the highlight ?

Toronto was great!

We did a quick recap of the trip on our blog: and we’re in the process of compiling all our photographs together.

Some ID firms we visited were Fig 40, Canadian Salvaged Timber, Kangaroo Design, KerrSmith, Castor Design, and Bookhou. We also went to some graphic/communication and interior design studios. A lot of the studios we visited were pretty small in size (some had just 2 or 3 people) which was really nice to see how the designers managed their work. There was also a good amount of handmade production which we haven’t really seen a lot of on trips in the US (kind of refreshing to see). I noticed a lot more focus on individual and artistic style than we’ve experienced in the US and less process-driven (or client-driven) projects. That could be because we didn’t see too many consultancies, but it was an interesting comparison.

OCAD was tricked out with some awesome facilities. They had five shops (wood, metal, plastic, etc.) and a fabrication room that totally kicks our in the butt (albeit, they’re a much bigger school than us). We were really impressed with their materials database room and we want to get something like that started at CMU as well.

Rkuchinsky took a few of us out to dinner which was really sweet too. I’m sure tarngerine can talk more about that.

Food was AMAZING by the way. The poutine was so good and there was a lot of vegan/organic restaurants. I think I ate 5 meals everyday just because I knew I’d never eat that good in Pittsburgh ever. We mainly hung out in the West Queen West, Ossington, Kensington Square areas. Night life was great. Tax and overall prices were not so much :frowning: