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Canada Modern is an archive of modernist Canadian graphic design focused on the period 1960—1985. It was conceived and produced by Canadian creative director Blair Thomson in 2017 and is the culmination of a long held ambition to curate a comprehensive national cache, whilst simultaneously addressing the absence of any such resource on a singular (red) thread.

The early 60’s saw the rise of social and cultural modernization. An influx of designers aspiring to fresh futures arrived from Europe, many of whom were trained in the International style. These designers brought their disciplined training but also an opportunity to shift the industry’s focus from illustration, images and taste (commercial art), towards that of clarity and rationale (graphic design). With it, a move away from the ‘advertising and magazine’ industry of the United States. Through working alongside local talent and North American commerce, a new responsive aesthetic emerged — ‘Canada Modern’ a utilitarian foundation combined with creativity and sensuality.

Please get in touch if you would like to say hello, provide us with information, offer comment or contribute items to the archive info@canadamodern.org

The Archive

Canada Modern exists to preserve, document, educate and inspire, to build a new and richer understanding of what can clearly be seen as a seminal point in Canada’s development as a nation — one of optimism, growth and modernity. At the heart of this work lies identity design, typography and graphic communication. The archive’s purpose is to build a definitive and accessible record of this significant epoch, and a valuable reference for designers, students, teachers, historians and citizens alike.

 

Well-known names such as Allan Fleming, Rolf Harder, Ernst Roch, Burton Kramer, Stuart Ash, Fritz Gottschalk, Georges Huel, Hans Kleefeld are often seen as the most celebrated, but there were many more who made a significant contribution, and through this project we aim to celebrate their work and credit the roles they played. Perhaps through a greater understanding of Canada’s first golden era of design we can begin the process of heralding a new one.

Contributors/Supporters

A few key people who deserve special thanks for their devoted time and support:

 

Mark Neil Balson Designer/Friend/Collector

Greg Durrell Designer/Friend/Filmmaker, Hulse&Durrell

Todd Falkowsky Designer/Friend, Canadian Design Resource

Greg D’Onofrio Designer/Friend/Collector, Kind Company

Sean Wolcott Designer/Friend, Rationale

Richard Baird Designer/Friend, Logo Archive

Burton Kramer Artist/Designer/Friend (retired)

Stuart Ash Designer/Friend (retired)

Anthony Hobbs Artist/Designer/Friend (retired)

Glenn Fretz Designer/Friend (semi-retired)

 

Canada Modern is a Believe in® (ad)venture.
Thank you to my family and team who help, and continue to help, make this a reality.

Canada Modern exhibited / on loan

Although we anticipate that most people will experience the Canada Modern collection primarily online, we are keen to present selected items ‘in real life’ as well. If you have a relevant talk, exhibition, feature or article, academic course / lecture, event or gallery and would like to explore opportunities with us, please get in touch info@canadamodern.org

Donations

The goodwill and generosity of those who recognise the importance of preserving this material is welcomed. If you have ANYTHING that you think may be of interest, we’re keen to hear from you. Donations may be collections or individual items and can include any form of graphic communication. More information on donations here.

Errors and omissions

Canada Modern and its contributors make every reasonable effort to ensure the accuracy and validity of the information provided on its web pages, however, should any data or references be deemed incorrect or misguiding, please get in touch to bring this to our attention. Canada Modern reserve the right to change at any time without notice, information contained on this website and make no warranties or representations as to its accuracy.

Copyright

Canada Modern is published under a Creative Commons License and is intended solely for personal, educational and non-commercial purposes such as research, evaluation, teaching and analysis. It is our intention to acknowledge the original copyright holder (author / publisher / artist) where information exists. We place no claim of ownership on the intellectual property of any content displayed or shared, with the exception of works created by ourselves. If you are the legal copyright owner of any content displayed on this site, and object to its use, please contact us at your earliest convenience. Canada Modern is not liable for the use or misuse of the site’s information.

Can Mod Credits

Design + direction: Blair Thomson, Believe in®

Typography: Beausite Classic, Fatype

Digital development: Lucas Szarzynski, Tavando

Please get in touch if you would like to say hello, provide us with information, offer comment or contribute items to the archive info@canadamodern.org