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Five emerging trends from Toronto's Interior Design Show

The basic elements — earth, wind, air and fire — featured prominently in works by Canadian designers and sellers

Canadian designers seem to have fallen in love with natural, earthy materials — fire, wood, water, clay, greenery — and their synthetic lookalikes.  Nowhere was that clearer than at Toronto’s Interior Design Show, where it was all about bringing the outside in. These are some of the hottest (and most interesting) emerging trends from Canuck designers.

On cloud nine

Toronto-based baby furniture seller Ella+Elliot set up a Lilliputian play space plush cloud rockers imported from the Netherlands ($835 each) and a 3-D foam puzzle Tetricube ($593), all on synthetic grass from Toronto landscape architecture firm Design Turf. Cityscape-inspired space dividers ($799/each) complete the look.

Hip to be square

The Cubey kitchen, a collaboration between Mississauga-based cabinetmaker Aya Kitchens and Canadian architecture firm Partisans, is a modular design, “just like Lego” says design consultant Kirth Manku. It’s made of cubes that can be mixed around and rearranged. Some are covered and fashioned into drawers, others serve as open-concept storage, and some contain grass or vertically creeping plants. It’s a prototypical design, unveiled for the first time at the design show, so there’s no price tag yet.

Living furniture

Canada’s HiGarden company makes living furniture. Its signature item, the VIGA (vertical indoor gardening & aquaculture), is a three-tiered mini ecosystem. The top tier has water, edible plants and a naturally filtering clay base. The second tier has more plants and the third has fish. Nutrients from the plants filter down to the fish, and an electric pump returns the fish waste to the top tier, where it fertilizes the plants. Available in desktop ($1000) and bookcase ($1250) versions — with plants included for an extra $150 — the VIGA is “self-sustaining,” says communications rep Michelle Lee. “The only input is the fish.”

Upcycle into the swing of things

Repurposed wood from around the world is the medium of choice for artisan S. Salem, the brainchild behind Canadian Green Design. The material forms the backbone of a working sink and kitchen counter and an imposing redwood coffee table ($3,500) set off with a playful indoor swing ($290) under the soft light of Edison-inspired yellow light bulbs embedded in a reclaimed branch.

Room on (fake) fire

Despite the name, Canada’s Nero Fire Design does not work with actual fire. Instead it makes custom hearths with all the trappings of the real thing but “no liability factor,” says Andres Castro, director of sales for Dimplex, the parent company. Hidden speakers make a crackling sound on-demand, electric lights stand in for flames and cold water vapour creates realistic-looking but totally benign smoke. A heating unit can be mounted inside, but that’s optional. A standard living room fireplace is about $8,000.

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