‘Work/Life’ is an annual exhibition that explores new prototypes for contemporary life, showcasing the work of eight Canadian designers and studios.

Join DesignTO and Umbra VP of Design Matt Carr for an online conversation with all the designers, talking about their prototypes, working from home, and new opportunities in a post-COVID world. Plus, an announcement of the winner of the Best Product award.

Sat, January 23, 2021 | 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM EST

Vote for the Fan Favourite award here.


The COVID-19 pandemic has made it much more difficult to separate home-life from work-life. The Obscura Screen seeks to resolve the imbalance in our “home from work” reality. This multi-functional partition provides both privacy and an elegant solution to users who wish to separate work from home. The modern, curved design provides a magnetic display on one side and a mirror finish on the other, while multi-functional brackets allow for both free-standing and wall-hung positions. Although a rattan screen portion allows for transference of dappled light, solid areas signal the need for privacy and self-reflection.

Ava Nourbaran is a Canadian designer, researcher and educator operating in San Francisco. She believes in the power of design to improve human life. Ava received a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Toronto’s Daniels Faculty of Architecture. In addition to autonomous research at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, she has received several research grants to study abroad at the São Paulo School of Urbanism and Oxford University in the UK, and made contributions to several design practices including Bjarke Ingles Group in New York, and others in Toronto and San Francisco.


The Chair for the Little Prince is the same as any other chair, the only difference being how it is perceived. Which side is up? Where do I place my feet? How do I rest my hands? There isn’t a right or wrong answer to any of these questions, only an object and what it is made to be.

Brandon Lim is a recent graduate of the University of Waterloo School of Architecture, practicing as an architectural designer. During his education, he developed a portfolio of work that explores design’s conceptual and physical presence in the world. His interest in design comes from the idea that good design reveals the purpose of things.


Shuttle is a portable office/storage solution, holding all the daily tools necessary to work remotely. It can be setup in a variety of locations around the home to create a dedicated workspace. When the workday is over, all items can be quickly organized, stowed away and out of sight, reviving a healthy work/life balance.

Jeremy Labelle is a passionate, inquisitive and resourceful freelance designer, taking every opportunity to pursue creative endeavours. Having worked around the world, he’s able to bring insights from his travels into the products he creates, with the intention of having a meaningful impact on the world around him. Ultimately, he looks to help elevate international recognition of Canadian design.


Lo Lamp illustrates elements of peace and nature in its form. As the seasons change and the weather goes from sunny to grey and gloomy, this new normal can become entrapping. Lo Lamp is meant to be a beautiful accent within a room, creating an environment of calmness, and ultimately allowing for a lighter mood during these times of uncertainty.

Notoro is an outlet to bring creative ideas to life. The intent is to design meaningful objects that fit into the narrative of their environments. The City of Toronto has been a constant influence for Notoro. Paying tribute to this great city, Notoro is an anagram of Toronto without the second T (the local way).


A minimal and utilitarian approach to desk and shelf organization, Tube Bookends are equal parts sculptural and functional. Made from bent stainless steel tubing, this design takes full advantage of its material by creating clever storage areas for everyday tools of productivity, with dedicated spaces for pens, books, phones, and various other desk essentials.

Maha Alavi an industrial designer based in Toronto. Her practice is informed by her prior training in philosophy and psychology, as well as further education in industrial and experience design. She is motivated by her respect for nature to create products and systems that fit seamlessly into our everyday lives and interactions, and help to improve current product life cycles.


Taking its roots from repurposed plastic waste, Much-Room is a satellite temporary shelf made to reduce clutter in makeshift home offices. Its organic marbled surface, fashioned with post-consumer HDPE, is cantilevered onto a bent steel tube. Its base is mountedwith a versatile surface clamp, which allows various configurations.

Superwise is a Montreal based multidisciplinary studio committed to developing environmentally conscious projects. The team combines industrial and graphic design through which they create tailored experiences ranging from visual identities to objects and spaces. Their combined strengths and values constructively reinforce the ingenuity of the designs they put into the world.


The HQ accommodates multiple workers with a removal separator.
It has grooves to fit supplies, a storage system, and space for all those pesky cords. It’s coated in a space-age magnetic paint so notes never blow away. When work is done, the HQ can convert to sit 6-8 people. Compact enough for condos, easy to assemble, and affordable for all. This table does not require any screws for assembly; all components are interlocked.

We are NODA Designs, founded by Nora Voon, an artist, designer, a lover of traditional craftsmanship and a dedicated traveler. As a graduate of Inchbald School of Design in London, UK, Nora studied Interior Architecture and was awarded for her work at the Preen Fashion House.
At NODA you won’t find cold, empty spaces in our portfolio; that’s never been our style.


With working from home becoming a sudden reality for many over the past year, significant challenges have arisen such as lack of privacy, noise distractions, and maintaining a work/life balance. The Peacock Chair responds with a unique felt shroud feature that creates a private, sound dampening personal space when rotated up, but is easily pulled down for casual settings.

Plural is a design collective lead by Robert Shudra, Andrew Ferrier and Markus Melcher that explores a wide range of ideas through the context of industrial design. An emphasis is placed on materiality, efficiency and environmental responsibility.