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10:00 EST



Soft pink room with draping table cloths, wall curtains, and soft objects hanging from the ceiling.

Mason Studio’s co-founders Stanley Sun and Ashley Rumsey conceived their office as an event space, gallery, library—and a comment on the future of work. “Anybody who’s still doing rows of desks in 10 years may not be understanding what’s happening socially and culturally,” says Sun.

The vinyl sign on the window glazing, in friendly script, reads “nourish.” Inside, an exhibit of 11 chefs, restaurateurs and culinary experts and the tools of their trade: a basket of potatoes, a masher, colanders, a crimper and cutter. Perched on a mound of flour (more than 100 pounds of it!), 11 recipe cards, each a unique culinary take on a theme.

Pierogi, wontons and momo, oh my.

This curated exploration of all things dumpling is the creation of Toronto-based interiors firm Mason Studio; the exhibition accompanied by a series of events that will see curious (and hungry) patrons descend on their Junction Triangle office/event space/gallery/studio.

In a curtain-clad room just beyond the exhibit, hundreds of dumpling-shaped clay sculptures hang daintily from the ceiling. There event participants will be guided by exhibitors AnthroDish and Pastaio, The Depanneur and Lokum Eats in making dumplings by hand, sampling their creations and, also, conversation.

Why the pillowy-shaped delight? “I’m going to be bold and say that every culture has a dumpling,” says Stanley Sun, Mason’s co-founder and creative director. Truthfully, “it’s more so that the dumpling opens up conversations.”

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The flour that holds the recipe cards from the 11 collaborators gives the space a “less precious” and “more playful” feel.

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The clay dumplings are another icebreaker or point of conversation. “There’s value in the process of making,” says Sun.

As designers of high-concept restaurants (the Downtown sibling to the Michelin Star–rated Alobar is their latest), the exhibit and event series is an opportunity to test and innovate. The “organic bean shape” and the mixed counter- and dining-heights of the tables create what Sun calls “purposely awkward” moments, prompting, he hypothesizes, different perspectives and interactive encounters.

“Design is design. It’s not really the end goal of what we’re trying to achieve,” says Sun. “There’s so much more value in providing spaces that allow for people to connect.”

Mason’s vision for this space, when they relocated to the two-storey former welding shop nearly two years ago, was to create something truly mixed-use; a testing ground and community hub. “Let’s reinvent what our office could be,” says Sun. And they’ve done just that: inviting in their neighbours, hosting partner exhibits, giving over a portion of the office to the DesignTO team (Nourish is part of the Toronto design festival’s 2024 lineup) and even, for one installation, flooding the space with water to create a pond.

Today, the space, awaiting its guests, is quiet and inviting. The calm before the kimchi?

“Even though it’s a white box, it’s like, let’s screw it up, you know?” says Sun.

“Design is design. It’s not really the end goal of what we’re trying to achieve. There’s so much more value in providing spaces that allow for people to connect.”

Nourish was the winner of the 2024 DesignTO Awards Best in Festival Event. Find dumpling recipes from the 11 collaborators.

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