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The DX and guest curator Pharrell Williams present the designer toy at the intersection of commercial culture and contemporary art.

Presented by the Design Exchange, Canada's Design Museum. 

* A Note from the DX:

We are fortunate and grateful that Pharrell has generously agreed to donate his time, effort, creative energy, considerable public profile and even lend items from his personal collection in support of the exhibition, the DX and its educational programming. In fact, Pharrell is instrumental in shaping the exhibition, providing creative input and making valuable introductions to some of the artists in the show to facilitate their participation. Without his help, This Is Not A Toy would not look the same. And he's asked for nothing in return. 

Please understand that bringing to life an exhibition like This Is Not A Toy is not easy - funding for cultural institutions is difficult to find. We do need your help to make this exhibition happen and having Pharrell onboard will undoubtedly bring new appreciation to our collectively beloved world of urban vinyl, to the DX and to Toronto itself.

Now onto the exhibition details...

For fans of the genre, urban vinyl (aka designer toys, art toys, conceptual toys, etc.) is not new. However, it is still a relatively niche art form and has been largely ignored by public museums and institutions. This Is Not A Toy is an important exhibition presented by the Design Exchange, Canada's only museum dedicated to design and related art forms.

The title of the exhibition is taken from the disclaimer frequently found on toys not meant for small children, but also references Rene Magritte's seminal painting Ceci n'est pas une pipe and the Duchampian notion of what constitutes art. This Is Not A Toy considers the conceptual toy as accessible art and design object, unique contemporary cultural signifier and fetishistic commercial product.

Co-curated by Williams, initiator John Wee Tom and DX Associate Curator Sara Nickleson, the exhibition will be a tightly-edited presentation of work from some of the best and most prolific toy designers in urban vinyl displayed alongside pieces by contemporary artists who use the toy form as just one of their mediums of artistic expression. Among the artists included are KAWS, Takashi Murakami, Yoshitomo Nara, FriendsWithYouHuck Gee, Coarse, Frank Kozik, Misaki Kawai, Doma, Bill McMullen and many others. Examples of what you can expect to see in the exhibition...

'Passage' by Coarse, detail (credit: Coarse)
'Passage' by Coarse, detail (credit: Coarse)
'Companion' by KAWS (credit: Reynard Li and Derek Shapton)
'Companion' by KAWS (credit: Reynard Li and Derek Shapton)
'Stupid Tank' by DOMA (credit: DOMA)
'Stupid Tank' by DOMA (credit: DOMA)
'Fur Paintng' by Misaki Kawai (credit: Sara Nickleson)
'Fur Paintng' by Misaki Kawai (credit: Sara Nickleson)
'Penelope the Heavy Trooper' by Huck Gee (credit: Huck Gee)
'Penelope the Heavy Trooper' by Huck Gee (credit: Huck Gee)

Superstar performer, producer and artistic collaborator, Pharrell Williams is a guest curator and will be lending pieces from his personal collection; and artist and Generation X author Douglas Coupland is writing the lead essay for the exhibition publication.

Douglas Coupland, credit Brian Howell
Douglas Coupland, credit Brian Howell

An important aspect of the exhibition is an interactive time-based installation which will have This is Not a Toy visitors with paintball guns customizing up to 150 seven inch blank Munnys over the course of the show's run. Toronto's own Magic Pony will be presenting an installation on the history of the genre with many important pieces from urban vinyl's early days. We have also asked 10 of Canada's leading designers and artists (including Jeremy Laing, Bruce Mau Design, Sid Lee Collective, Blok Design, Rhed, Castor Design, Team Macho, Julie Moon, Doublenaut and Bruno Billio)  to each customize an 18" Munny which will then be given as reward (along with the 7" Munnys) to our Kickstarter funders in support of the exhibition.

Why We Need Your Help

The DX is a not-for-profit museum and like many cultural institutions, we rely on support from donors and friends. Urban vinyl as an art movement is still relatively unknown, which is why we're reaching out to the Kickstarter community - many of whom already know and enjoy urban vinyl as collectors and fans - for support and to help spread the word.

Pharrell is generously donating his time, items from his collection and his personal creative efforts to support the exhibition so that we can bring you the most exciting spread of urban vinyl and contemporary art imaginable. If you're curious about Pharrell's involvement, please see the FAQs section at the bottom of this page. 

REWARDS

Exhibition Catalogue (Download and Hard Copy Available) - The publication for This is Not a Toy features a diverse selection of many of the most successful pieces of the urban vinyl art form and highlights the exhibition's participants, looking both to the past and present as an assessment of the genre's growth. Essays and interviews from contributors will touch on topics of aesthetics and concept; urban vinyl toys as commercial products of the contemporary art world; collector culture; and the objects and influences that have collided to manifest the designer toy into existence. The special edition insert will show in situ photographs and content specific to the exhibition. Contributors: Pharrell Williams; Curators John Wee Tom and Sara Nickleson; Kristin Weckworth and Steve Cober of Magic Pony and Narwhal Gallery; Paul Budnitz, Founder of KidRobot; Artist and Generation X Author Douglas Coupland; and Toronto Star art critic, Murray Whyte. 

This is Not a Toy Catalogue by the DX and Blok Design
This is Not a Toy Catalogue by the DX and Blok Design

This is Not a Toy Tote Bag by Blok DesignBlok Design is the talented studio responsible for the exhibition's identity and they've created this cool tote just for you. 

TINAT tote by Blok Design (specify grey or natural)
TINAT tote by Blok Design (specify grey or natural)
TINAT tote by Blok Design (specify grey or natural)
TINAT tote by Blok Design (specify grey or natural)

Stickers - Since everyone loves stickers, Blok thought it would be cool to assemble a selection of urban vinyl imagery, lingo and graphics for you to stick wherever you stick your stickers.

Exhibition Passes - Tickets for Admission to This is Not a Toy in Toronto, either picked up at the DX or sent by mail depending on the reward level purchased. A family package of passes is also offered for some tiers (2 adults and 2 children OR 2 adults)

Opening Night Tickets - Opening Night of This is Not a Toy will be a spectacular event with incredible music, performance and event-specific installations, featuring a number of special guests in attendance TBA (stay tuned!). It promises to be one of the most exciting cultural events Toronto will see in 2014. 

Munny Customization Workshop Family Package - The DX will be holding regular Family Day (Sunday) Munny DIY workshops over the course of the exhibition run. This reward allows 2 adults and 2 children (OR 2 adults) to customize 2 toys with a plethora of supplies as a memento to take home after your visit.

1 yr. DX Membership - includes free admission to Permanent Collection exhibitions; reduced admission to special exhibitions; 10% discount at SWIPE DX Shop; exclusive member previews; free admission and/or discounts to DX Talks; free admission and discounts to selected Ontario Galleries and Museums (OAAG Members); and a 1 yr subscription to the magazine of your choice- Applied Arts, Azure or Canadian Interiors Magazine. Specify Family Membership (2 adults/2 kids OR 2 adults) for all of the above plus a 10% discount on enrolment in DX Kids Camps (Summer and March Break).

Limited Edition Exhibition Munny - If you haven't met him, Munny is KidRobot's blank canvas platform toy, purchased to be customized by artists and DIY aficionados alike. For every donor that chooses a tier with this reward, a single blank 7" KidRobot Munny will be placed inside our interactive customization booth displayed within the exhibition. Over the course of the show's run, visitors to This is Not a Toy will have a turn at the paintball gun range, creating a customized design that changes by the hour until closing day. It's a toy created by exhibition visitors for exhibition donors (pretty cool, huh?). Upon the exhibition's end, they'll be packaged and sent to their new homes (yours!).

An army of 7" Kidrobot MUNNYs will be customized by exhibit visitors with paint ball guns
An army of 7" Kidrobot MUNNYs will be customized by exhibit visitors with paint ball guns

Coarse Sketches- A set of original (4 x 12"x12") sketches by Mark Landwehr & Sven Waschk (Coarse) of Dark Sorrows, Omen and Fever, characters they explore in sculpture and the art toy medium. Of their work, Coarse says: "While the underlying stories of the individual pieces vary and express themes of denial, betrayal and lies, the sculptures aim to make an impression on multiple levels. While often looking cute at first glance, a distinct silence, sadness and loneliness simultaneously convey an alternate effect" 

Original Sketches by Coarse
Original Sketches by Coarse

Exhibition Patronage - Want to be a generous supporter of the exhibition by helping to bring some of the top contemporary and urban vinyl art to Canada? This reward tier will provide access to the VIP Opening pre-party for This is Not a Toy (special guests TBA); see your name included on the exhibition sponsors wall and within the special edition catalog insert; gift you a copy of the exhibition catalog signed by Pharrell Williams and co-curators; and add you and a guest to the list for our 'Unscripted Series' discussion featuring guests TBA with a post-talk reception at the Templar Hotel, Toronto.

The Munny Project: Canadian Edition - We've asked 10 of Canada's best art and design talents to create a custom single edition 18" Mega Munny for you. For most, this is the one and only urban vinyl piece they've ever created. It's first come, first serve in choosing a toy from Jeremy Laing, Castor DesignBruno BillioRhedBlok Design, Sid Lee CollectiveBruce Mau DesignJulie MoonTeam Macho, and Doublenaut Design.

The artists are hard at work on their custom munnys which will be exhibited in THIS IS NOT A TOY beginning on opening night. As most collectors know, exhibiting your pieces only raises their value. We trust these talents to create some incredible designs and know you do too- it's the ultimate Canadian 'blind box'-style collection! Once complete, you'll be the first to see the final product by email. It will be packaged and sent to you upon close of the exhibition (June delivery).

Here are the artists and their Munny descriptions:

Bruce Mau Design: What happens when a team of globally selected graphic designers, artists, architects, writers and filmmakers create a Munny?

 Sid Lee Collective: SLC is having an internal battle.

Blok Design: 'The Utopiste' stands for the power of the word.

Team Macho: An encomium to the elegant design of the Munny and its part in the conversation on the reemergence of ornament in the 21st century

 Bruno Billio: The active displacement and staging of the found Munny.

Julie Moon: Julie is a ceramic artist, trained in the fields of fashion, fibre arts and ceramics. Her studio practice is focused on making work that deals with aspects of the body and ornamentation.

Rhed: A Munny influenced by island culture, science, music, architecture and other design principles employed in Rhed's practice. Rhed will play with form, structure, surface and scale. 

Doublenaut: Munny will be covered in the strong graphics and cool colour palettes Doublenaut is known for

Castor Design: "Every block of stone has a Munny inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it" Michelangelo

Jeremy Laing: Laing's collections often stem from his elaborations on simple principles of construction and form, drawing simultaneously from couture and tailoring traditions. 

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

As this Kickstarter campaign is launched, there are still a number of important large scale pieces which carry a significant cost for the exhibition. Though not including these pieces will not prevent the exhibition itself from taking place, our full curatorial vision may not be completely explored without this work.
We need your help to bring these larger-than-life pieces to Toronto.

FAQ

  • We received a question from someone who asked why Pharrell isn't financing this exhibition project single-handedly. Although we appreciate where this question might be coming from, we'd like to set the record straight. This Is Not A Toy is a project spearheaded by the DX to further its mandate of providing cultural programming to a broad audience that may not ordinarily be exposed to art and design. In fact, one of the main objectives of the exhibition is to make art more accessible. We are fortunate and grateful that Pharrell has generously agreed to donate his time, effort, creative energy, considerable public profile and even lend items from his personal collection in support of the exhibition, the DX and its educational programming. In fact, Pharrell is instrumental in shaping the exhibition, providing creative input and making valuable introductions to some of the artists in the show to facilitate their participation. Without his help, This Is Not A Toy would not look the same.

    And he's asked for nothing in return. He simply liked our idea and wanted to help us out. His time, attention and efforts to link us with artists Toronto has never seen is something you simply can't put a price on.

    Please understand that bringing to life an exhibition like This Is Not A Toy is not easy - as much as we love the subject matter and find it worthy of a serious and ambitious exhibition - there are many out there who aren't familiar with the genre and so funding is difficult to find. Similar to other not for profit cultural institutions and in light of today's financial reality, exhibitions of this scope can be financially challenging.

    We do need your help to make this exhibition happen and having Pharrell onboard will undoubtedly bring new appreciation to our collectively beloved world of urban vinyl, to the DX and to Toronto itself.

    Last updated:
  • Yes, it is.
    If you'd like a tax receipt, simply message us via our kickstarter profile after you've made your donation. We'll be happy to send you a receipt along with your reward.

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