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DIALOG Announces 2023 DesignTO Community Wellbeing Awardees

March 17, 2023

DIALOG is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2023 DesignTO Awards in Community Wellbeing.

Joined by Yabu Pushelberg, DIALOG returned as co-sponsor of the 2023 DesignTO Awards, presenting three awards: The Community Wellbeing Award, Community Wellbeing – People’s Choice Award, and Juror’s Choice Awards.

Community Wellbeing Award

On Friday, January 27, 2023, a diverse jury of DIALOGers walked the streets of downtown Toronto to visit various design work and award one designer the Community Wellbeing Award presented at DesignTO Festival, Canada’s leading and largest design festival that features the work of more than 800 artists and designers, celebrating design as a multidisciplinary form of creative thinking and making.


DIALOG jurors from left to right: Chen Cohen, Mark Gorman, Nicole Moyo, Dorsa Jalalian, and Michael Mousa.

The DIALOG jury evaluated designs based on the Community Wellbeing Framework, an evidence-based methodology that studies the relationship between the built environment and the wellbeing of people. The social, cultural, environmental, economic, and political domain of each design work was examined to understand how it flourishes and impacts the wellbeing of the community.

After much deliberation, DIALOG jurors, Chen Cohen, Partner and interior designer; Mark Gorman, Associate and mechanical engineer; Nicole Moyo, intern architect and urban designer; Dorsa Jalalian, senior urban designer; and Michael Mousa, sustainability consultant, selected Democratizing the Creation of Furniture – by DESIGNwith as the recipient of the Community Wellbeing Award.

Winner: Democratizing the Creation of Furniture

Image courtesy of DesignTO. 

DESIGNwith is a community-based, creative collective. This exhibit used a participatory design approach to push for social innovation and the creation of strategies for the circular economy. In partnership with Cadillac Fairview and OCAD University, DESIGNwith created an incubator lab, located on the second level of CF Toronto Eaton Centre, to bring corporations, academia, and the community together through design-led research and programming and to democratize the creation of object through knowledge and skill sharing.

Using the work of Enzo Mari and the Ishinomaki Laboratory as a departure point, DESIGNwith’s furniture collection is designed for easy assembly using readily available materials, tools, and fasteners. This results in a high degree of modularity and disassembly furthering its participation in the circular economy. DESIGNwith is exhibiting a furniture collection designed by Lee Fletcher, Ranee Lee, Ernesto Ramirez, and Katya Koroscil, along with other furniture pieces submitted by designers in the community, to answer the same question: How do we democratize the creation of furniture pieces using accessible materials and methods of fabrication?

DESIGNwith’s Democratizing the Creation of Furniture addresses social, cultural, environmental, economic, and political aspects of the community through design, with an aim to create a more inclusive and skill sharing society. From inviting the public to share and learn about undervalued skills in society, where they come from, and where they go, to showcasing prebuilt furniture pieces that are inclusive and accessible to all using accessible materials and methods of fabrication, DIALOG jurors were thrilled to see this exhibit as it embodies the Community Wellbeing Framework.

Community Wellbeing Honourable Mentions

DIALOG jurors would like to mention the notable concept and execution of Change the Bill by Native Women’s Association of Canada and Housing Multitudes 2.0: A Bigger Picture for Toronto by Michael Piper and Richard Sommer of the Daniels Faculty in collaboration with Faculty colleagues, students, and staff.

Community Wellbeing – People’s Choice Award: ILLUMINESCENT

Image courtesy of DesignTO. 

Voted by the public, the Community Wellbeing People’s Choice Award recognizes work that positively contributes to the wellbeing of the community through design. This year’s notable recipient is ILLUMINESCENT by Gensler.

Located in the Yonge and St. Clair BIA neighbourhood in midtown Toronto, ILLUMINESCENT is a large-scale art installation of oversized malleable textile cascading between the columns of a lobby. This installation invites visitors to come in, interact with the art, and ignite a sense of wonder.

The design is manifested through the celebration of togetherness and active connection of the community, continuing the festive atmosphere as it brings warmth and joy.

Juror’s Choice Awards: Selected by DIALOG’s Khatereh Baharikhoob

Khatereh Baharikhoob, Associate and senior urban designer, joined DesignTO’s awards jury and examined design work presented at the festival. Each juror selected and awarded their three favourite designs from any category, including events, exhibitions, window installations, and individual works.

Designs selected by Khatereh:

Congratulations to the award winners and to all designers who participated in the DesignTO Festival this year. 

To learn more about DesignTO, visit


Lead image by Katya Koroscil.