RAW Design celebrated its 10th anniversary with a party dubbed “RAW X,” inviting developers, engineers, planners, city officials, designers, urbanists, and artists to mingle and engage with the interactive, illuminated environment.
All of RAW’s parties are themed and double as art installations. In 2014, RAW MATERIAL was hosted in a storage facility and had structures for attendees to climb and play on. In 2015, RAW CANVAS took over what is now the Daniels City of the Arts site with live painting and some incredible murals. Last year, RAW SHIFT commented on the “fluid nature” of buildings in Toronto and the necessity for spaces to evolve.
RAW X was all about illuminating the city and the importance of doing so. “As Toronto moves toward becoming a 24-hour city, we need to manage our relationship to light after hours,” says Roland Rom Colthoff, Founder of RAW. “By and large our public spaces are conceived for daytime. There is a tremendous opportunity to shape urban life after dark by focusing on engagement.”
The installations at RAW X included giant mirrored orbs, illuminated furniture, and translucent fabric. Servers handed out cotton candy on lit up foam tubes and walked around with candy in bowls also containing a giant glowing ball. Light-up yo-yos could be found randomly scattered around the space for anyone to use, and there were plenty of photo-ops in front of different lit up backdrops.
“The canvas of the city after dark is ripe with possibilities. By exploring ways to manipulate light and dark in urban centres we can influence how and where engagement occurs,” says Colthoff. “Light is a symbol of spectacle and freedom. People are drawn to it, and we should be exploring its potential. Even though Toronto has great nightlife, it’s still a relatively dark city.”
With bars closing at 2 am and the Financial District emptying at 5 pm, we think Toronto is pretty far from becoming a 24-hour city, but as Colthoff says, the city does have a vibrant nightlife, so if Toronto is ever to become a 24-hour city, then now is the time to start considering the art, design, and infrastructure necessary to ensure it’s done properly.
When it comes to lighting up the night in a downtown core, safety is the first thing that comes to mind. Planners and developers need to starting thinking even more about how pockets of our city are illuminated in a manner that promotes safety.
One of the best things about RAW X was the venue. The party was hosted in an under construction building by Streetcar near Queen and Broadview in the Riverside neighbourhood. We’ve been in a lot of under construction towers, more than we can count, but we’ve never partied in one.
“Riverside is a microcosm for the entire city,” says Colthoff. “You used to have a clear distinction between established single-family residences on side streets, and more active uses along Queen. With new developments coming into the area, those distinctions blur. Streetcar has contributed to the reinvigoration of the area at night, with the introduction of The Broadview Hotel, and they have also been leading the charge in terms of developing the east end.”
We extend a thank you to the RAW Design team and everyone involved in organizing RAW X. Not only for the art and candy, but for encouraging the industry to look at the future in a different light.