January 19 – May 21, 2024

Future Matters


Canada, Netherlands

Future Matters

Safaa Alnabelseya. Ephemeral Embraces: Milkweed Fibres from Land to Body, 2023. Organic silk gauze, organic silk thread, locally harvested milkweed silk fibres, earth magnets. Image courtesy of the artist.


Future Matters, a group exhibition featuring the work of eight local and international artists and designers, explores themes related to material expression, innovation and environmental sustainability. 

Including an eclectic range of works in sculpture, video, photography, installation and textiles, this multidisciplinary exhibition embraces the intersection of both traditional and futuristic practices and materials.  

In fact, materials carry complex narratives and histories within them. In Future Matters, materials, which have been created through technology or hand-based techniques, speak to colonialism, sustainability and the revitalization of traditional cultural practices.  

Future Matters is curated by DesignTO, co-presented with Harbourfront Centre and supported by the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund, Government of Ontario and Yabu Pushelberg, with media partner AZURE Magazine. 

About Yassine Ben Abdallah

Yassine Ben Abdallah is a designer and artist based between Réunion Island and The Netherlands. His research-based practice focuses on issues of heritage, cultural identity and belonging. His work addresses the historical and contemporary afterlife of colonial wounds in postcolonial societies. Abdallah tells and gives shape to per­sonal and col­lec­tive stories through objects, installations, writings and performances. Abdallah received his MA from the Design Academy Eindhoven.

About Safaa Alnabelseya

Safaa Alnabelseya (she/her) is a designer, chef, advocate and maker residing in Tkaronto, the traditional lands of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples. A Master of Architecture graduate with a passion for organic materials and a specialization in bio-based material studies, Alnabelseya finds the potential of naturally grown materials and practices reciprocal ecological relationships. She approaches projects hands-on, harvesting natural plant materials, creating material composites and 3D printing material studies. Much of her work is experimenting with various ways of connecting to the human experience through exhibitions, interactive displays, written publications and public talks. At the core of her design practice is her equally important role as an advocate for the voices of the underrepresented, both human and non-human.

About Sonny Assu

Sonny Assu (Ligwiłda’xw of the Kwakwaka’wakw Nations) was raised in North Delta, British Columbia, 250km from his ancestral home on Vancouver Island. Uncovering his Kwakwaka’wakw heritage became the conceptual focal point that helped launch his unique art practice. Assu explores multiple mediums and materials through a lens of pop culture, decolonization and Indigenous futurism. His work is often imbued with autobiographical, humorous and political connotations to deal with the realities of being Indigenous in the colonial state of Canada. Assu received his BFA from Emily Carr University in 2002 and his MFA in 2017 from Concordia University. He currently resides in ƛam̓atax̌ʷ (Campbell River, BC), within unceded Ligwiłda’xw territory.

About Nada Al-Obaidi

Nada Al-Obaidi is a multidisciplinary designer and architect. Her research focuses on using earthy materials, mainly stone, and she draws inspiration from quarries as evocative spaces of architecture. Her work focuses on the process of making as a design tool, and she explores the scalability of craft using technology. Al-Obaidi co-founded Tri Architectural Design Studio in the United Arab Emirates with a project profile that included educational and commercial projects and collaborations with local artisans. Her expertise extends to curatorial work and project and team management for exhibitions and temporary installations, including multiple editions of Dubai Design Week. Al-Obaidi has also been an art moderator at the Venice Biennial’s 57th edition. In addition to her professional work, she has been a head teaching assistant for various design courses and a part-time instructor at the University of Toronto, sharing her love for design and architecture.

About Morgan Possberg Denne

Morgan Possberg Denne is a Two-Spirit millennial scoop and foster care survivor with settler, Cree, Metis and Chippewa blood connections. They grew up in Treaty 7 territory and have relatives in southern and northern Ontario. Denne creates imaginative, illustrative objects as pieces of possible narratives, different ways to connect with the past and potential futures through layers of abstraction. What matters to them is not accurately recreating the past or predicting the future but instead capturing an inner truth and a possible alternative reality of colonial experiences, opening the possibility of a new culture created from a series of “what-ifs” and new stories and lore.

About Julia Rose Sutherland

Julia Rose Sutherland is an interdisciplinary artist, educator and assistant professor at OCAD University in Toronto. She is of Mi’kmaq (Metepenagiag Nation) and settler descent. Her art practice encompasses various mediums, including photography, sculpture, textiles and performance. Sutherland received her MFA from the University at Buffalo in 2019 and her BA/BFA in Craft and New Media from Alberta University of the Arts in 2013. Her works have been showcased internationally with exhibitions at the Bemis Center of Contemporary Art, the Mackenzie Art Gallery, the K Art Gallery, the WAAP Gallery and 59 Rivoli Gallery. Her talents have been recognized with several awards, including the Canada Council for the Arts Creating Knowing Sharing Award and the AFA Indigenous Individual Project grant.

About Cole Swanson

Cole Swanson is a multispecies artist and educator based in Toronto. He has exhibited both nationally and internationally and has participated in artist residencies, guest lectures, and workshops abroad. He is a Professor in the Faculty of Media and Creative Arts at Humber College ITAL and is currently a PhD student of Environmental Studies at York University. In 2023, he was awarded the prestigious Vanier Scholarship for his research into Toronto’s infamous double-crested cormorant colony. Through a multidisciplinary, collaborative, and materially-focused practice, Cole explores the complex relationships emerging between species living together in tension at a critical ecological moment.

About Elaine Whittaker

Elaine Whittaker is a Canadian visual artist working at the intersection of art, science, medicine and ecology. Biology is the basis for her installations, sculptures, paintings, drawings and digital images. These works incorporate traditional and unconventional materials: paint, pigment, wax, mosquitoes, salt crystals, human cells, textiles, repurposed fibres and live microorganisms. Whittaker has exhibited in art and science galleries and museums in Canada, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Latvia, China, South Korea, Australia, Mexico and the United States. Her artworks are featured in art, literary and medical journals and books on BioArt and new media. She was one of the first artists-in-residence with the Ontario Science Centre in partnership with the Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto and at the Pelling Laboratory for Augmented Biology (University of Ottawa). Whittaker has received grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council and the Toronto Arts Council.

About DesignTO

DesignTO is a non-profit arts organization that curates exhibitions, presentations and educational programming to increase the public’s knowledge and appreciation of design and its role in creating a sustainable, just and joyful world.

DesignTO is best known for the DesignTO Festival, Canada’s leading and largest annual design festival that celebrates design as a multidisciplinary form of creative thinking and making, with 100+ free exhibitions and events forming Toronto’s design week every January.


Gallery 235

235 Queens Quay West
Toronto, ON, M5J 2G8

Keywords Free Event