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French Connection


Shauna McCabe is the executive director of the Textile Museum of Canada, where she organizes exhibitions and presides over the institution’s 12,000-piece collection of original fabrics, ceremonial cloths and carpets. No stranger to curating (with previous stints at galleries in Charlottetown and Vancouver), we asked her to help assemble this page by choosing her favourite Canadian design icon and predicting the next big thing. Her picks: the Solair chair by Quebec’s Industries Emile Lachance, a family-run manufacturer specializing in plastic housewares; and the charming tabletop accessories by Montreal-born, U.K.-based Philippe Malouin. With au courant aesthetics, both works illustrate a thoughtful approach to material composition and environment.

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Roadside Attraction

Solair chair

Production year: 1972

Price: from $129. Available at INabstracto and Studio Pazo

 

Its simple form is comprised of an injection-moulded plastic, concave shell perched on a steel frame. Solair was devised over a weekend for Industries Provinciales, which commissioned industrial design grads Fabio Fabiano and Michelange Panzini to build a chair that was affordable and fun. “It represented a striking innovation at the time, made of the most everyday materials. A fixture of 1970s backyard pools and roadside motels, the chair is inseparable from a moment and place,” says McCabe. “The landscape it conjures has such impact. It has an easy and comfortable functionality and a distinctive palette,” she adds. Thanks to local design buffs that rallied for its reissue four years ago, “the chair still captures the extraordinary in the ordinary – ensuring its status as a classic.”

 

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Desktop adornment

MDF functional shapes

Production year: 2013

Price: from $218. Available online at project.eu

 

This collection includes a table lamp, bookends and a pen holder. Each is crafted by cutting out and stacking symmetrical patterns from laminated sheets of MDF, and polishing them to create basic forms that are similar to Lego-like construction. Imagined by Philippe Malouin – renowned for his monochromatic interiors and raw, untreated furnishings – the series celebrates simple forms made from components at hand. “His work is about creating a contemporary language of form and materials, that uses ordinary materials like timber and concrete,” says McCabe. It’s quintessentially Canadian in its entrepreneurial and inexpensive approach: “Like the Solair chair, there is a complete absence of complication. Each piece achieves very simple geometry – a perfect and streamlined fit of form to function.”


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