Explore the Canadian creative economy.
Discover the makers/companies behind Brand Canada.
This month, we dove into the resource to find and rediscover notable design published this year on The CDR, from engineering to architecture, product to graphic design. These posts have been especially resonant to us and the community, and represent the diversity of our collective creative industry, and our globally focused design life.
Architecture firm UUfie and Japanese architect Eiri Ota joined forces to wow us with their stunning Kawartha Lake Cottage. From the surreal effect of its mirrored walls blending the forest into the facade, to the stark and high contrast black exterior that makes the cabin pop from it’s natural surroundings, this reimagining of the traditional Canadian cabin is truly jaw-dropping. This outstanding architectural gem brings Canadian architecture up to date and showcases where we are going, while applying learnings from the past.
Arcade Fire’s wildly popular Reflektor is completely entertaining and imaginative. Shedding the music industry’s usual bag of tricks, the band has continued to rethink how they can combine fan experience, bold music, and technology. Unafraid to think differently, the band is a magnet for collaboration on all fronts, be it musically with David Bowie or Google Chrome to roll out their latest project, the group is a powerful lesson to us all: take risks, think big, and make art.
2013 saw two real leaps forward in accessible design and products that improve quality of life. The groundbreaking eye wear developed by eSight has life-changing potential for millions of people globally, literally giving sight to the blind. Alleles Design Studio blended fashion with medical design to create a new Fashion Prosthetic, giving folks an opportunity to live in a new way. These pieces highlight how design can radically improve our lives and position design in meaningful ways.
The Pebble Watch is this years product phenomenon. After a staggering crowd funded start late last year, when the company and its Vancouver-born founder, Eric Migicovsky raised over $10M on Kickstarter, the smartphone enabled watch moved into production this year and has now sold over 85,000 units. The product is groundbreaking in so many ways, born from a business incubator program, the creative start up had a bright fundraising strategy, a straightforward and clean design aesthetic that simplifies the engineering and technology, and had the courage to wade into a busy marketplace to create a signature digital product.
Canadian furniture design is improving on all fronts, with a healthy indie scene producing outstanding work like Tomas Rojcik’s Firesite Light, a contemporary form that does double duty, able to be a table/floor lamp or as a hanging pendant. We also are continuing to see amazing work from the established furniture brands like Bensen, whose U Turn lounge chair by Niels Bendtsen is so formally strong and perfectly designed that it is destined to become an icon. Both pieces demonstrate where Canadian furniture design is breaking new ground with innovative forms, new materials, and modern colours.
Collaboration is fast replacing the single brand name designer as the most powerful way to create innovation and meaningful product design. Canadian brands are clearly understanding the significance of this process, and we particularly like the collaboration between winter sport powerhouse brand Burton and mukluk brand Manitobah, who used traditional bead patterns and aboriginal makers to decorate the Memento snowboarding boot, a perfect blend of the modern tapping the past to move forward.
lg2boutique rolled out premium graphic design this year with the spot-on, super tight rebrand of the historic Parc Olympique/Olympic Park. With a respectful nod to the locations historical and design savvy past, the new look updated the event space with a full range of materials, including an excellent website, souvenirs and packaging. This work reminds us of Canada’s stellar graphic design DNA and how we can be inspired but not owned by the past.
Fashion designer Christina Remenyi caught our attention this year with her elegant and timeless brand Fortnight Lingerie. Loaded with gorgeous details, her work manages to be sexy without being lurid, comfortable and timeless without being boring. We particularly like how this brand is working in the busy lingerie business. With considerable competition, Fortnight has carved out its niche with smart design, low key marketing, and quiet brand building. Fortnight is a perfect example of how fashion design in Canada is expanding and maturing as it moves onto the global stage.
We’re thrilled that so many talented and creative people call The Canadian Design Resource their online home, and that so many people use this platform to express themselves, and take Canadian design around the globe. We look forward to 2014 and hope you continue to share your ideas and stories with us, wherever you are in this creative country.