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Icon Status: Canadian Modern at the ROM

Jaques Guilon chair, LIFE Magazine

Showcasing renowned designs by the likes of Frank Gehry and Thomas Lamb, the museum’s latest exhibit runs from December 3rd through next summer

By Joseph Cicerone
Photography by Paul Eekhoff, courtesy of the Royal Ontario Museum

Now on view at the Royal Ontario Museum, Canadian Modern exhibits one hundred pieces of culturally significant, limited-edition and mass-produced objects from the early 20th century right up to today. Spotlighting the global impact Canadian designers have had on the modern design movement, this permanent collection is a testament to the generations of craft-makers and designers that have shaped our everyday lives.

Retro tech, innovative mid-century furniture and vintage garments make up the curiosity-inspiring showcase suited for design aficionados and novices alike. Here’s a peek at just a few of the exhibit’s standout pieces.

Cord Chair (1952), designed by Jacques Guillon

Designed while he was a student of architecture at McGill University, Jacques Guillon’s Cord Chair expresses the tenets of modernism by employing the lightweight and low-cost materials of army-surplus nylon parachute cord and laminated wood made for skis.

Habitat Chair (1967), designed by Jerry Adamson and Dudas Kuypers Rowan

Jerry Adamson, working at the major Toronto design firm Dudas Kuypers Rowan (DKR), conceived the Habitat Chair for Moshe Safdie’s apartment complex at Expo 67. The distinctive cube shape not only complemented Safdie’s vision of modular “square” living but also reflected the manufacturing process.

Project G Stereo, Canadian Modern exhibit

Young entrepreneurs Peter Munk and David Gilmour founded Clairtone Sound Corporation in Toronto in 1958. The Project G stereo designed by Hugh Spencer became its signature product, and captured a silver award at the prestigious Milan Triennial in 1964.

wall mounted desk

The work from home solution we’ve all come to appreciate. Andrew Jones’s 1997 Wall Mounted Desk displays the return of modernism and the enduring appeal of moulded plywood-veneer. Inspired by a leather school bag with a softly shaped top flap and interior compartments, the design reveals his affinity for Scandinavian design.

Blackberry 7280 Series Smartphone, Canadian Modern exhibit

The BlackBerry smartphone is one of Canada’s most recognized products in communications technology. Jason Griffin, responsible for the 7200 series, worked as head designer and vice-president for the brand from 1996–2014.

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