• Rebecca Harkness

Design Relations Guide to Toronto

The Design Relations team visited Toronto back in August for a two-night quick taster of the city.

If you're looking for something to do in Toronto that has an emphasis on design and away from the tour guide recommendations then this is the guide for you. Though remember to use guides as a starting point and not to stick to a plan, this is when you find an unexpected discovery.


Spend a morning exploring The Distillery Historic District, here you will find in converted warehouses a selection of design and food lead shops, cafes and galleries. We were there the day Wildly Delicious That opened, a food store full of sophistication, in retail and packaging design. We were their twentieth customer ever!

The Centre Shop at the Harbour Front Centre is full of Toronto designers and makers, here is where you buy great design to support the Toronto Design Industry. I especially loved the collection by Lint and Honey their textile collections always start with a hand-drawn sketch & Xenia Taler selection of colourful ceramic art objects both design studios are based in Toronto.

Once you've finished shopping walk up the stairs into the building and here with absolute delight, you will find the Craft & Design at Harbourfront Centre.

Craft & Design at Harbourfront Centre is a dynamic axis point for contemporary craft in Canada. Craft & Design offers residencies in five disciplines Textiles, Glass, Ceramics, Metal, and Design. The main goal of the Craft & Design Artist-in-Residence programme is to assist emerging designers and makers to establish professional careers. To that end, a full-time Artists-in-Residence has 24-hour access to Harbourfront Centre Craft & Design fully equipped studios to design and make work. Each discipline has two volunteers, professional Artistic advisers, and a Business Advisory Committee to give advice, offer critiques and suggestions about career direction and work development.

Stay Drake Hotel is located in a great area outside of the main city centre and away from the waterfront. If you decide not to stay here then definitely go there for a cocktail on a nice evening and sit outside in the Sky Yard the service was exceptional

Follow @thedrakehotel or visit http://www.thedrakehotel.ca for current rates.

Featuring the stunning Monocle light by Design Relations client Rich Brilliant Willing.

Whilst you're there pop across the road to The Drake Hotel General Store - located directly opposite The Drake Hotel. It is described as being a traditional hotel gift shop, a classic general store, a flea market stand, and a museum shop all rolled into one. Here is another Canadian store proudly supporting homegrown artists and designers amongst a collection of global treasures. For somewhere nearer to the centre of the city look for hotels near Yonge Street where there is plenty to choose from to meet all types of design tastes and budgets.


For breakfast or brunch then definitely visit Marché Brookfield Place here you will find a vast array of food for all appetites and preferences.

For the healthier budget then visit ki modern Japanese + bar is a great place to enjoy a cocktail.

Architecture watch

Keep an eye out for the shimmering Golden Royal Bank Plaza this is the de facto headquarters of the Royal Bank of Canada.

Day Tripping

Toronto Island.

A great place to escape the city is Toronto Island, which is accessible by Ferry and is worth a visit just for the ferry trip and the views of the city skyline. Though there is lots to do and explore once you get to the island or you can simply relax on the beach or have a picnic. Tip** We purchased our ticket the day before we planned to go and avoided the massive queue for the ferry tickets on the day.

Niagara on the Lake.

It's definitely worth hiring a car and traveling to Niagara on the Lake for a spot of lunch and a mooch around the boutiques. If you fancy a stay over then there are plenty of B&Bs and small hotels.

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