By Shauna Levy
President & CEO, Design Exchange

I’ve been involved with design for virtually my entire professional life.

Since being appointed five years ago, President & CEO of Design Exchange–– Canada’s first and only museum dedicated exclusively to the pursuit of design excellence –– I have made it my mission to improve the accessibility and popular understanding of the discipline.

When I look back, there were two moments, in particular that shaped EDIT in a very significant way.

In 2014, we worked with Pharrell Williams as a Guest Curator on This is Not a Toy, an exhibition that featured street art, urban vinyl and designer toys. I was encouraged by the flood of phone calls from museum visitors asking for the dress code. They had never been to a museum before and didn’t know what to expect. This exhibition however was what encouraged them to make that leap. It was clear that if a cultural experience is created in a “language” that is authentic and accessible, people will attend.

The DX’s mandate is to demonstrate the importance and value of design to everyday life. But it wasn’t until I was exposed to the UNDP’s Sustainable Development Goals via this video that I really started to appreciate the big opportunity for design. It was, and continues to be clear to me that when considering the grand challenges that we face as a planet, design should have a seat at the table… think 3d printed prosthetics in remote communities, designing sustainable and community housing with indigenous communities, delivering medical supplies by drone, powering education in rural Africa through solar lighting, cleaning the air through smog vacuums and the oceans through artificial coastlines…

And that takes us to today, two weeks before the launch of EDIT (Expo for Design, Innovation & Technology) –– a 10-day expo that premieres in Toronto this Fall – and I couldn’t be more excited. Inspired by the UNDP’s (United Nations Development Programme) 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development, EDIT is a global platform for ideas that can change the world, and an unprecedented celebration of the people and projects making a difference in the world today.

Here are some of my top picks for the inaugural edition of EDIT:

Feeding the 5000

Photo courtesy of Feedback

I am thrilled to announce that the Toronto edition of Feeding the 5000 –– a massive Thanksgiving lunch made entirely out of food waste –– will be hosted at EDIT on October 8th! Hosted by the Food Network’s Bob Blumer, the event will shine a light on the global food waste scandal, while bringing the community together for a day of free programming and food.

Letters to the Mayor/Letters to the Developer

This Fall, 100 Toronto architects will be invited to write a letter to Mayor John Tory as a means of bringing innovative ideas and visions of the city closer to the decision-makers, and vice versa. Initiated by Storefront for Art and Architecture in 2014 and partnering with Partisans in Toronto, the project has traveled to more than a dozen cities across the globe, including Bogota, Mexico City, Athens, Taipei, Madrid, and Buenos Aires. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the Toronto chapter.

The Green and the Grey by Carlo Ratti

The Green and the Grey is the first Carlo Ratti exhibition to ever touchdown on Canadian soil. A site-specific installation, it showcases architectural innovation and technologies that seek to bridge the divide between city and nature, the exhibition envisions what urban communities can –– and should –– be. Learn how a city’s waste can be mined for data, and how shorelines are being redesigned to protect coastal communities from changing climates.

No Lot is Vacant

No Lot is Vacant is a response to EDIT’s partnership with the UNDP and the Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger. The team has transformed a vacant rooftop of the abandoned Unilever soap factory; breathing life into a new story of a former industrial site at an important time in its transition. Envisioned by Victoria Taylor Landscape Architect, urban farmers Bowery Project and plantsman/garden builder Jonas Spring/Ecoman, No Lot is Vacant encourages a new way of thinking about how we nourish urban lands.

UNDP Social Good Summit at EDIT

Photo courtesy of Monica Suarez

This will be one for the books! On the heels of the NY edition of the Summit running in the lead-up to the UNGA, the UNDP Social Good Summit comes to EDIT with panels on STEM accessibility, indigenous housing solutions, and many other inspiring conversations that will explore how we can best meet the goals of quality education, better housing and prosperity for all.

What are you most excited for about EDIT 2017? Tell us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram at @EDITDX!

See you on September 28th!