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August 26, 2022

2023 Prototype Exhibition Call for Submissions

Going into its eighth year, ‘Purpose & Play’ is the latest edition of the annual prototype exhibition organized by DesignTO in partnership with Umbra. A dozen new prototypes by Canadian designers are shown each year at the Umbra Store during the DesignTO Festival. ‘Purpose & Play’ invites any Canadian designer (living here or abroad) to submit to this open call for submissions. 

Showcasing the work of Canadian designers, ‘Purpose & Play’ is an exhibition that explores fresh and original housewares and working products for contemporary life. Previous editions were ‘Work/Life’ and ‘Compact Living’.

‘Purpose & Play’ will run January 16-February 5, 2023, overlapping with the annual city-wide DesignTO Festival, January 20-29, 2023. All selected prototypes will also be considered for addition to Umbra’s growing roster of quality products, to be manufactured, distributed, and sold through the Umbra brand, with royalty. For example, The Bolo Planter by Simone Ferkul has been in the Umbra collection since 2018, and the Cono Lamp by Allstudio is being produced by Umbra and will soon be available for purchase globally.

The ongoing global pandemic has prompted us to reconfigure many aspects of day-to-day living. From the beginning, individuals were tasked with the challenge of adapting their lives to fit the ever changing conditions posed by the pandemic. Spaces previously reserved for specific activities took on multiple purposes with many of them still holding on to these new identities today. 

In a time when everything is changing, how can we ensure that our environments remain up to date with our needs? What products of spontaneous innovation spurred by the pandemic should become staples in our homes? How can we experience our environments anew after so much time in confinement? 

Drawing upon these conditions, the exhibition invites designers to explore redesigning objects that are underdesigned or often overlooked in the domestic environment. What products are due for reinvention? Consider opportunities for joy, humour, experimentation and play as last year’s Best Product Award recipient Hi Thanks Bye demonstrated with their design for Blob: a cloud-like bubble machine to distribute hand sanitizer. The exhibition invites designers to think about the whole environment that we live and work in, and welcomes creative responses to the theme.

Submission Deadline Friday, August 26, 2022