THIS IS NOT A TOY
An Exhibition of Contemporary Art + Collectible Design
Celebrate the World's First Large-Scale Exhibition Dedicated to Designer Toys at the Design Exchange
This Is Not a Toy at Canada's Design Museum, Design Exchange, featuring Better Knowing by KAWS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - TORONTO, Canada - February 2014 - Design Exchange (DX), Canada's Design Museum, is proud to present a series of firsts with its playful, unprecedented exhibition This Is Not A Toy, guest curated by music and fashion mogul Pharrell Williams.
The first major original programming produced by DX. The first foray
into museum curation for cultural connector Williams. The first time
coveted artists, Brooklyn's KAWS and Japan's Takashi Murakami,
have shown their work in a design museum. Dedicated to exploring the
conceptual toy - a form made solely as an expression of an aesthetic or
idea - as a fine art and design object, as well as a contemporary
cultural signifier, This Is Not A Toy marks
the first time these vibrant collectible sculptures, figures and
paintings have collectively been on display in a museum setting.
On view from February 7 until May 19, 2014,
the exhibition takes its name from the disclaimer found on packaging
for objects that may be called toys, but aren't meant for play. Ranging
in price from just a few dollars to thousands more, these figures are
part merchandise, part art. While the creators of these art toys may
utilize technical methods of mass production, they do so in a way that
produces variation, unique expression, and limited edition objects.
Instigator and co-curator John Wee Tom and DX Associate Curator Sara Nickelson, along with Williams, present a tightly-edited presentation of work from over a dozen of the most prolific toy designers and contemporary fine artists in the collectibles category.
The Simple Things by Takashi Murakami and Pharrell Williams*; Bubble Bench by Misaki Kawai
This Is Not A Toy
transforms DX's Exhibition Hall into a candy-coloured space evoking
genuine happiness through exuberant, imaginative works. Visitors absorb a
multi-faceted sensory experience, as they are immersed in a vibrant
world filled with music, video, and vinyl via iPad Air, iPad mini with Retina display and iMac. Listen to in-depth interviews with artists such as KAWS, Huck Gee and Frank Kozik, see stop-motion videos created by fans of Kidrobot figures, and get an exclusive look at how vinyl toys are made and customized. The showstopper, The Simple Things,
is a striking sculpture created by a trio of trailblazing creatives:
Williams, Murakami and Jacob Arabo, a.k.a. "Jacob the Jeweler". The
fiberglass, metal and steel head features a wide grin that reveals
blinged-out ordinary objects, including a Pepsi can, a cupcake, and a
Heinz ketchup bottle. First unveiled during Art Basel in 2009, The Simple Things
has been exhibited at London's Tate Museum, Paris' Chateau de
Versailles, Qatar's Museum of Islamic Art, and now, Toronto's Design
Among the full spectrum of paintings and sculptures on view are: FriendsWithYou's animated short film Cloudy and custom Rainbow Vortex; Misaki Kawai's tactile, comb-able animal-shaped fur paintings; and prized items from Williams' personal art collection, including Milo on Rocking Horse by Japanese fashion label A Bathing Ape; Be@rbrick representations of his Grammy-winning partners Daft Punk; and commissioned KAWS paintings that poke at pop culture, aptly named KAWSBOB 3 and KURFS (CROWD). Toronto's art and design shop, Magic Pony, presents Pon Pon Pony Jam,
featuring multifarious characters in their envisioned natural
environment from international artists Devilrobots (JP), James Jarvis
(UK), Junko Mizuno (JP), Michael Lau (HK), Nathan Jurevicius (AUS) and
Pete Fowler (UK). This diverse group of creators is recognized as
discernible pioneers within the designer toy field, communicating their
visual philosophies through the unconventional medium of the art toy.
Other contributing artists include Veteran neo-pop artist, Yoshitomo Nara, Huck Gee, Coarse, Frank Kozik, and Bill McMullen.
Rainbow Vortex by FriendsWithYou; Master Control & Carne by DOMA alongside FriendsWithYou's Cloudy, an animated short film, & Misaki Kawai's Pink Arty
"The title of the exhibition, This is Not a Toy,
is important to us since we never set out to make toys, we make
purposeful sculptures and experiential art. We are extremely honoured to
be a part of this exhibition, especially alongside artists like
Murakami and KAWS, because their work resembles toys but they have much
broader concepts. We want to speak to people through fine artwork and
animism, for the purpose of helping people, healing people and
self-empowerment." - Samuel Albert Borkson and Arturo Sandoval III, FriendsWithYou
its origins in 80s and 90s graffiti culture, the small release toy is
an underground art form that at once represents rebellion and
playfulness. At the same time a product of consumer culture and a
defensible piece of art, these works both reject and appropriate
familiar consumer imagery, and manipulate household names, cartoons and
cultural icons. The result is a powerful one, shifting control from
brand to artist and finally, to consumer. Some artists manipulate and
leverage familiar visual communication as tribute or provocation, while
others create their own original forms, characters and worlds to convey
their ideas of a more affected existence.
This Is Not A Toy is on display at the Design Exchange from Friday, February 7th to Monday, May 19th, 2014.
Additional web resolution images available HERE.
TWEET THIS: Dive into the dream world of designer toys & fine art! #ThisIsNotAToy launches today at the @DesignExchange. Tickets: www.dx.org
THIS IS MORE
EXHIBITION CATALOGUE (Coming Soon)
Looking both to the past and present as an assessment of the genre's growth, this one-of-a-kind custom chronicle of This Is Not A Toy features a diverse selection of artwork and commentary from the curators.In-depth essays and interviews from contributors including superstar Pharrell Williams, Canadian artist and novelist Douglas Coupland, Founder of KidRobot Paul Budnitz, and Toronto Star art critic Murray Whyte
touch on topics of aesthetics and concept, toys as commercial products
of the contemporary art world, collector culture, and the objects and
influences that have collided to manifest the designer toy into
existence. The special edition insert will show photographs and content
specific to the exhibition.
Julie Moon; Jeremy Laing; Bruno Billio; Sid Lee Collective; Doublenaut
THE MUNNY PROJECT
10 of Canada's best art and design talents have been recruited by the DX to customize single edition 18" Mega MUNNYs. See creations by Jeremy Laing, who hand-applied scraps of pin-stripe linen to create a fluffy figure; Doublenaut embellished their doll with iconic motifs and symbols; and Rhed 3D-printed 210 indigo-hued components and assembled them by hand in the likeness of a MUNNY. Other participating artists and designers include Castor Design, Bruno Billio, Blok Design, Sid Lee Collective, Bruce Mau Design, Julie Moon, and Team Macho.
MAGIC PONY POP-UP SHOP
Love the toys? Take the magic home by visiting Magic Pony's pop-up shop in the DX Lobby. As Toronto's original designer toy store, Magic
Pony creates a unique art experience store for museum visitors with
a curated selection of designer toys, fashion, and art products, and
limited edition goods.
THIS IS NOT A WORK PARTY PRESENTED BY INK ENTERTAINMENT
Two parties for one price! Presented by INK Entertainment, Design Exchange will host a series of Thursday night events, from 6 to 9pm. Unwind at the museum with a complimentary signature TAG Vodka cocktail and
delectable treats. Each of the four events will host interactive
activities (think: DIY Kidrobot MUNNY customization stations). Continue
the fun at your second stop, the after party hosted by INK Entertainment.
On February 26, digital landscape artist Alex McLeod leads
a tour of the outstanding contemporary sculptures, figurines and
artworks on display created by international artists including Takashi Murakami, KAWS, and FriendsWithYou. Meanwhile, DJ's Body Interface spin beats and local design shop Magic Pony turns nails into canvases with its Nail Art by Artists drop-in. Admission to This Is Not A Work Party includes entrance to the after party at INK Entertainment's CUBE Nightclub (314 Queen Street West, Toronto).
Dates: Wednesday, February 26th, March 26th, April 23rd, May 14th
Time: 6pm to 9pm
Tickets: $18 (including one complimentary beverage)
Held once a month over the duration of This Is Not A Toy, Family Sunday
invites parents and children to explore and engage with the wildly
playful exhibit. Children can follow the exhibition activity book,
create bespoke Kidrobot MUNNYs, dress up in fashion facemasks and
personal accessories inspired by the designer toys on display, and get
in line for an exclusive This Is Not A Toy face paint design by
artist Jennie Suddick. The entire experience is not only made memorable
by guided exhibition tours, but with an exhibition-themed photobooth!
Dates: Sunday, February 9th, March 2th, & April 13th
Time: 12pm to 4pm
Tickets: Free with museum admission or Family Passes can be purchased for $37
Cool and Collected
10 panelists, including gallerist Daniel Faria, designer Joyce Lo and artist Micah Lexier,
deliver rapid-fire presentations on the art of collecting everything
from rare Americana finds and one-of-a-kind furnishings to tiny
curiosities and contemporary art.
Date:Tuesday, April 1st
Tickets: $16; $8 for DX members
DESIGN EXCHANGE (DX)
EXPERIENCE DESIGN AT CANADA'S DESIGN MUSEUM
in 1994, the Design Exchange (DX) is Canada's only museum dedicated
exclusively to the pursuit of design excellence and preservation of
design heritage. At a crossroads of multiple disciplines, from furniture
and architecture to graphics and fashion, DX exhibitions and talks are
curated to reflect the popular zeitgeist and contemporary culture, while
demonstrating the relevancy and importance of design to everyday life.
Under the leadership of President, Shauna Levy, and a renewed strategic
vision beginning March 2012, the DX has hosted renowned traveling
exhibitions from prestigious cultural institutions across the globe,
including Stefan Sagmeister's The Happy Show from the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia and the Christian Louboutin retrospective from Design Museum London. Educating
and awareness-building from its downtown Toronto location in the
historic and original Toronto Stock Exchange building, the non-profit
charity attracts thousands of visitors of all ages each year.
F: Design Exchange
234 Bay Street, Toronto ON, M5K 1B2
Monday to Wednesday - 10am to 5pm
Thursday - 10am to 8pm
Friday and Saturday - 10am to 5pm
Sunday - 12pm to 5pm
DX Member Admission: $8
General Admission: $16
Student & Senior Admission: $13
Family Pass: $37
Kids 6 and under: Free
Exhibition tickets are available for purchase via dx.org.