Design Exchange opens in Toronto

To kick off its introduction to business and the public the Design Exchange in Toronto hosts a gala fundraising dinner Sept. 21 with Ontario Lt.-Gov. Hal Jackman, Prime Minister Jean Chretien and Ontario Premier Bob Rae in attendance.The Design Exchange, housed...

To kick off its introduction to business and the public the Design Exchange in Toronto hosts a gala fundraising dinner Sept. 21 with Ontario Lt.-Gov. Hal Jackman, Prime Minister Jean Chretien and Ontario Premier Bob Rae in attendance.

The Design Exchange, housed in the refurbished former Toronto Stock Exchange building, seeks to raise public awareness of design and to encourage businesses to regard design as an integral part of their strategy.

Jennifer Fleming, director of marketing for the Design Exchange, says the non-profit Design Exchange is a hybrid – ‘part-museum and part-business resource.’

According to Gary Hierlihy, director of business services for the Design Exchange – known colloquially as dx – design is the first tool of marketing and even service companies can reap the benefits of the design process.

But, Hierlihy says, making Canada more competitive internationally is the most important part of dx’s mandate.

Fleming says although the Design Exchange got under way with provincial and federal money, funding from Gordon Capital, Inco and Toronto-Dominion Bank, and in-kind assistance from the likes of Apple Canada, Northern Telecom and Canon Canada, the goal is to be self-sufficient in five years.

Refurbishing the 1930s Art Deco Stock Exchange cost $6.3 million in provincial and federal funds.

As well as charging admission fees to some exhibits and providing fee-for-service design advice, Fleming says dx is also available for meetings, product launches, receptions and the like.

Bookings are already heavy until next spring, she says.

To promote dx, the centre is using a combination of print and out-of-home advertising, direct mail and public relations.

Fleming says Toronto subway and transit posters went up the first week of September for six weeks, and there are ads in The Globe and Mail and The Toronto Star.

She says to reach the business community, a direct mail campaign is planned, as are some public relations ventures.

Also, she says, some targetted print placements are planned for The Report on Business Magazine, The Financial Post Magazine and Canadian Business.

dx opens for business Sept. 24.

The Design Matters column, Strategy’s monthly look at issues and trends in design, says the business-oriented Design Exchange believes quality design is the key to a strong economy. See opposite page.