This is the CDR’s list of top designs that showcase the state of the art in Canadian design for 2012. These projects demonstrate current trends, global recognition and shifts, and how design is driving innovation across the marketplace and shaping our daily life. Design’s force and influence is on the rise in Canada, and this year was an exciting time to be in the business.

1. Blackberry 10 – Design seems to be getting some serious respect at RIM these days. We see it being applied across the business, from its website and apps, to a new operating system and handheld device. The latest model is tidy and useful, with a solid new design that is exciting fans and rising the stock value of the company. This is a brand on the rise and will be working hard to re-establish itself in 2012.

2. Amarok P1 Electric Sportbike – Canadian designers have flirted with motorcycle design, creating some exotic, unique, and unusual examples, but this one is a harbinger of the future. A straightforward design, driven by a desire to push the envelope and raise expectations of what is possible, the bike is truly cutting edge. If we can link more of these projects with proper funding, fan support, and smart branding, Canada will be at the front of green high performance. Support the project.

3. 5 Peeps 1 Guitar by Walk Off the Earth – There is viral, and then there is VIRAL. #37 on the 2012 YouTube 100 with 35 million views in the first two weeks of appearing online (close to 143 million at press time), the concept and ingredients are aligned, booming a small act into global attention. YouTube is star-making machinery and this band tapped into it brilliantly.

4. Oracle Turntable – Possibly the prettiest turntable ever made, dripping with expensive materials and design, packed with serious audiophile and music nerd details, in production for almost forty years, this is the best turntable ever created. With the coolest digital players, the top stereo amplifiers, the best speakers and cables…the premium audiophile market is thoroughly owned by Canadian brands and designs, and a global audience is lining up to listen.

5. Gibson Typeface – Officially launched last year, but really coming into it’s own in 2012 (like recently being used in the IDS identity). A solid sans serif designed by Rod McDonald, produced by Patrick Griffin and Kevin King of Canada Type, and named in honour of designer John Gibson (1928-2011). This is a font that gives back…head to the GDC to learn more.

6. Nendo Splinter Chair – Go Oki! This Toronto native has charmed the global design scene and has done so with a lovely collection of carefully designed pieces with some of the top brands in the world (Capellini, Fritz Hansen, and Moroso). Part of a complete splintered collection created for Conde House, a brand known for the use of traditional techniques and wood furniture, this chair stands out for its novel aesthetic and classic form. Canadian designers are spreading across the globe, and Canadian design is thoroughly international; expats are rocking and locals are doing well too.

7. Smythe les Vestes Warbler Tribute Jacket – With its nature to be in the moment and of its time, fashion drives much of design. Canada’s creatives have had a short history to follow but that is changing quickly. With a healthy inventory of impressive style merchants, like Pink Tartan, Philip Sparks and Preloved, the influence of this industry to cross pollinate is growing. Smythe les Vestes is such a powerful fashion force, with complete lines and a firm bright look, this design duo is a leading example of contemporary Canadian style, and further evidence that Canadian creative industries are setting their sights on markets outside of Canada with great success.

8. Dekerf Custom Titanium Road Bike – With so much outdoors and sporting life in our blood, it is a no brainer that Canada’s bike brands, like Cervelo and Argon 18, are dominating the cycling world. Running parallel to the major companies are an handful of serious bespoke manufacturers, brands like Mariposa, Guru, and Dekerf. Chris Dekerf is the most original, creating two wheeled masterpieces with amazing details, materials and engineering, and graphics. Custom culture is growing in all consumer markets, and Canadian cycling is at the front.

9. Larrivée OM-10 Guitar – Larrivée is one of the primary building blocks in Canada emerging as a serious custom guitar producing hotspot. The company reinvigorated quality guitar manufacturing with choice hand selected woods, over the top inlays and an identifiable Larrivée sound and feeling. Along with luthiers like Linda Manzer, Allan Beardsell, and William “Grit” Laskin, Larrivée is challenging the traditional brands, like Martin and Gibson, by pushing the boundaries of design, and proving  that the best instruments no longer come from the States.

10. Taxali Coin Set – We are giving a nod to the Royal Canadian Mint this year for producing one of the most eccentric coin sets ever. Taxali was given free reign to unleash his concepts on our currency, celebrating shared life events like tooth fairies, birthdays, and weddings. We love that the Mint has the courage to think like designers, creating national pieces and things that we all use everyday with such humour and fun. Looking forward to the next Royal Canadian Mint + designer/artist/illustrator collaboration.

Enjoyed the list? Share it and leave us a comment. Thought we missed something, or feel that a design should have made the list, let us know. Have a successful and happy 2013!

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