2006 11 13
The Dinner Party Part Two: The Talk
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Chris Pommer and James Brown trade stories about Toronto's design community

The mix of people who arrived for Lloyd Alter's party reflected the city's diverse professions and interests (but all passionate about culture and the arts). There was Hillary, the opera singer, with husband Wouter, an energy trader. Alex, a curator of textiles attended with partner Paul, a noted lighting designer. Neighbours John and Amy, film makers, contrasted M&A lawyer Barb and husband Martin, senior manager of an information technology company. Don, who runs a pharmaceutical company, and his MBA wife Cindy rounded out the non-architects.

The design and architecture profession were well represented. Kim Storey and James Brown, of Brown and Storey Architects, came as did Chris Pommer of PLANT Architects. Architects Bob Allsop and Catherine Nasmith complimented friends Carol and Roman of KMA architects (of course, Lloyd, his partner Kelly, daughter Emma, and son Hugh, rounded out the group and, like all good hosts, their preparation and dedicated attention to detail made the evening a great success).

As you might imagine, Toronto's preoccupation with its new art institutions surfaced in this group too. Some spoke out in favour of architecture as spectacle while others decried the lack of functional considerations. "After all, how is art going to fit in all of those awkward angles?" "Let's get people into the buildings so art and culture can do the rest," was one answer.

Hillary, the opera singer, spoke well of the new Four Seasons Opera House. The inside scoop from the opera world is that the acoustics in Diamond and Schmidt's hall are, "perfect."

Talk soon turned to the upcoming city election. Someone in the gathering went to school with David Miller. Mayor Miller's past survived our repeated demands for inside information. It turns out, according to the source, he was a good person to call your friend then and is, today, a worthy mayor. Adam Vaughn's name came up as a strong candidate for councillor although some said that ward's existing councillor serves the constituents well.

For those who might wonder, and in reference to the Globe's dinner story, one Blackberry did surface during the course of the evening but only to note the URL of this site.

The difficulty cultural producers have making a living here was a prime topic for discussion although it was agreed things are improving. As the evening's conversation exhausted itself over rich food (the cheese course was particularly noteworthy) and fine wine, environmental sustainability became a big topic. Deservedly so. Pollution caused by the Island Airport was a regret. Can we ever get the waterfront right?

Next: The Menu
[email this story] Posted by R Ouellette on 11/13
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