We continue our Toronto Design Offsite Festival interview series with conversation with Ange-Line Tetrault, a product designer and contributing organizer for the Festival. In her interview with Mason Journal, Ange-Line describes her role as curator of Not Forkchops, and the contribution of her personal work as part of Woman King Collective for Come Up To My Room.

Mason Journal: How do you describe your craft/discipline/practice?

Ange-Line Tetrault: I’m a product designer, artist and performer. Currently I work at imm Living as a product designer, social media coordinator and lead curator for Not Forkchops. I’m also one of the co-founders of Woman King Collective, a group of multi-disciplinary artists and designers working in Toronto, producing work and curating annual shows. This past year I’ve been involved with TO DO and helping organize the Auction Night and the Warm Up Party.

MJ: Can you tell us about yourself and how you evolved into your current practice?

AT: I come from a theatre background, both as an actor and a set designer. For many years I worked as a visual display artist and merchandiser in retail until I decided to go back to school. I studied Industrial Design at OCAD, and there I met Megan Skyvington and Tara Lee Towers (the other Woman King Collective co-founders) and we formed a strong bond both in friendship as well as work. OCAD allowed me to explore my work more conceptually as well as performance art. During my third year at OCAD, I started working for imm Living. That same year Katherine Morley and Erin McCutcheon invited me to be part of Capacity. Being part of the “Design Week” that I had been a spectator of for years was thrilling and I wanted to be more involved in organizing shows and being in shows that were part of the Toronto design/art community.

MJ: Briefly describe your involvement in Toronto Design offsite Festival?

AT: For the past two years I got to meet the folks behind TO DO and learn about the Festival and loved what they were doing, so I reached out to Jeremy to see if there was a way for me to be involved. I met up with him, Deborah and Vivien Leung (she too wanted to get involved) and during that meeting we decided to put together the Auction Night that happened over the summer. Now I help out with organizing some of the events or anything they need me to do.



MJ: What prompted you to create an exhibition like Not Forkchops. What are the goals or expectations of the show?

AT: Imm Living is well known in the USA and Europe and many people don’t realize that we’re from Canada. We wanted to have more of a presence in the Toronto design scene. We also wanted to give local designers the possibility of exposure to an international audience. The voting aspect of the show is to allow the spectator to be involved, and have a say. We wanted to get a conversation going about design as well as getting to know our audience.

MJ: Can you tell us a little bit about the content and process behind your personal work that you are creating for the Come Up To My Room exhibit?

AT: Woman King Collective will be in room 204 at Come Up To My Room. Our installation is called Dwell, and it explores the evolution of familiar spaces as reflections of our life cycles. The home is a site where we are created, grow, transform, and inevitably break free from.

I came across the following quote by Gaston Bachelard: “If I were asked to name the chief benefit of the house, I should say: the house shelters day-dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.” This struck a chord in me and I had to explore the meaning of a house in relation to the dreamer. Generally my work is female centric, however, for this project I wanted to keep it open and neutral, for it to be accessible to everyone. The materials and colors I chose to work with are neutral, warm, natural and raw. They are also materials used to build a home. The ways in which the materials will be used are with the intention to evoke in the viewer introspection and imagination.

MJ: Is there a fundamental idea, process or perspective that you try to maintain in your personal work?

AT: My focus tends to be female centric, about the home, rituals and objects. To me objects not only tell a story, but once created and claimed, also become a piece of history. In my private practice this is where I have the opportunities to explore my ideas more conceptually then at work, and in turn helps my creativity at work. It also allows me to push my ideas and merge both my art and design practice. My work tends to be playful and whimsical.



MJ: What impact do you see Toronto Design Offsite having on the local and national design industry?

AT: Since the festival is growing every year, and draws in a more diverse crowd and creates a buzz, it gives local/national designers a chance to showcase their work and be seen/discovered. Being able to show your work allows not only to industry people but the general public to discover the talent we have here in Toronto, and one day we can be seen as trendsetters and have a voice in the industry that is loud and more impactful.

MJ: What benefits are there in having a Canadian-based design practice?

AT: I’m discovering that since the design community in Canada tends to be smaller than in the USA or Europe, as well as we’re all trying to define what is Canadian design, that we’re very supportive of each other and we’re all working towards the same goal in creating a strong presence. The benefit is that you’re not trying to “break into something” but instead you have an opportunity to create something with others and be part of a community.


MJ: From a local perspective, how do you see the design industry shifting over the next few years?

AT: Well I think that the local scene is becoming a strong voice/presence and people are discovering all the talent we have here in Canada and are starting to hire local designers/craftsmen/artists instead of outsourcing. Maybe one day there will be a high enough demand on reviving local industries and manufacturing.

MJ: Can you tell us what we can look forward to seeing from you next?

AT: Woman King Collective is planning a show this summer called Semblance, and I’m going to be exploring the emotional life of an object. More information will be available at www.womankingcollective.com later this spring.


For more information on Ange-Line, visit her webite at www.retrotetro.com

All images courtesy of Ange-Line Tetrault.