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Design Exchange


Design Exchange

Design Exchange (DX)
Established 1994
Location 234 Bay Street, Toronto, Canada
Type Design, Art Museum and Education Centre
Visitors 225 000 +
President Shauna Levy
Curator Sara Nickleson
Public transit access King subway station
504 King streetcar

The Design Exchange (DX) is a non-profit design museum located in the historic Toronto Stock Exchange building. The DX hosts exhibitions, competitions and educational programming dedicated exclusively to the pursuit of design excellence and preservation of design heritage. The DX also contains the permanent collection of Canadian Industrial Design and is home to the Clairtone archives, Fred Moffat archives and Thomas Lamb archives.


  • History 1
  • Affiliations 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


The Design Exchange opened in the autumn of 1994 but its origins are rooted in the 1980s. At that time, the design community was concerned regarding a lack of support for design on the part of the Canadian government and cultural institutions. This belief was underlined by the closing of the federal agency, Design Canada, in 1985, followed by the University of Toronto's announcement in 1986 that it intended to close its school of architecture (this was soon rescinded).

In 1983 the Toronto Stock Exchange had abandoned its historic home of the last 46 years at 234 Bay Street. Olympic & York (O&Y) purchased the building which was designated a heritage property .[1][2] In return for the air rights to build an office tower on the site, O&Y agreed to retain and restore the building. O&Y also commissioned a study to consider the idea of using the trading floor as a public facility.

The study indicated that Toronto designers from all disciplines represented an enthusiastic audience for a cultural design centre. Indeed designers were quick to lobby City Hall in support of the initiative. Their first gathering in January 1986 was a standing-room-only event. City officials were so impressed by this response that they immediately recognized a body of ten citizens as the "The Group for the Creation of a Design Centre in Toronto" (incorporated on February 6, 1987 and hence the birth of the organization which came to be known as the Design Exchange).

This citizens' group persuaded the City to hold another feasibility study which concluded that a design centre in the old Toronto Stock Exchange "was both possible and desirable." [Lord Cultural Resources Planning and Management Inc., "Design Centre Feasibility Study" (Toronto: report prepared for City of Toronto Economic Development Committee, 1987)].

In 1986, O&Y sold the old stock exchange property to Cadillac Fairview and The Toronto Dominion Bank (Toronto-Dominion Centre West Limited). The sale was conditional on the design centre concept being retained. The new owner was also required to provide $500,000 to the City for 25 years, which would in turn would be passed along (minus a 10% holdback) onto the design centre to offset operating costs. This agreement, in effect, gave the Design Exchange operating rights in the historic building.

In 1988 the design centre was named the Design Exchange and the original citizens' group was made the founding board. The group established a Board of Management (which included the founding board and citizens and a couple of city counselors). Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects was commissioned to renovate and enlarge the non-heritage-designated spaces (exhibition spaces, administrative office space, the resource centre and meeting rooms).

In 1988 the Design Exchange (The Group for the Creation of a Design Centre in Toronto) began a capital campaign drive aimed at both the private and public sectors. All three levels of government sent signals that they were not interested in funding another museum. In 1993, after years of arduous lobbying, the federal and provincial governments finally confirmed funding for capital expenses in the sum of $6.3 million. The Design Exchange was now viewed by all levels of government as a component of Canada's economic recovery and renewal. In 1994 The Group for the Creation of a Design Centre in Toronto became the sub-tenant with a long-term lease (December 1, 1994 – May 30, 2091).

On September 21, 1994 the Design Exchange was officially opened by Prime Minister, The Right Honourable Jean Chrétien. The mandate for a permanent collection was established in 1996: to collect the best Canadian materials designed since 1945. Today the collection numbers 150 items and continues to grow. The Design Exchange has mounted over 400 exhibitions, organized hundreds of seminars, lectures, international conferences and educational programs and publications stimulating the debate over the role played by design in culture, industry and business.

In March, 2012 the Design Exchange took a revitalized strategic direction and refined mandate - to promote the relevancy and experience of design to as large a number of people as possible, the DX is now exclusively a Design Museum. Covering off the various design disciplines including fashion, architecture, interior and industrial design, digital design and more, exhibitions and programming explore designers, products, projects or themes that have broad public appeal and reflect popular contemporary culture. President Shauna Levy leads this new direction offering renowned traveling exhibits from prestigious cultural institutions across the globe, a new city-wide cultural component, a greater focus on educational experiences for the public, including youth and adults, and a rollout of programming that will extend across the country.


The Museum is affiliated with: Canadian Museums Association, Canadian Heritage Information Network and Virtual Museum of Canada.

See also


  1. ^ "234 Bay St.". Heritage Property Detail. City of Toronto. 20 Jun 1973. Retrieved August 2012. 
  2. ^ "TO DESIGNATE THE PROPERTY AT NO. 232 BAY STREET OF ARCHITECTURAL VALUE AND OF HISTORIC INTEREST.". By-law 1978-0570. City of Toronto. 14 August 1978. Retrieved August 2012. 

External links

Media related to at Wikimedia Commons

  • Design Exchange
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