Creative redesign is the process of creating new designs from existing and salvaged products. Once considered radical, the act of re-assembling and reworking existing imagery, objects and information has become commonplace in our digital era; Cut/Paste is now a standard computer function, executed with a few keystrokes.
While art and digital media have shaped the way we view the reuse of existing materials, the behavior is arguably rooted in the medium of design; the natural product of necessity and innate human ingenuity. In Canada, creative reuse has a long history, reaching back to indigenous design and the improvised solutions of early pioneers. More recently, this form of pragmatic redesign has spawned some of Canada's most iconic designs.
Today, the strong tradition of creative reuse in Canada may be more relevant than ever, and has become a highly visible theme in design internationally. Design critic and futurist, Bruce Sterling has even suggested that as economic and environmental pressures grow, this strategy will become increasingly dominant, eventually replacing the professional designer with a new expert, the redesigner.
Mimicry, adaptation and outright copying are all common practice in the world of Canadian production ceramics. As a result, these designs are often regarded as derivative – second rate and uninspired imitations. However, closer inspection reveals a richer story than we might first expect with results that are often surprisingly authentic and innovative.
This exhibition examines copying through five distinct facets; each reflects a unique aspect of Canada’s young culture. Perhaps the most blatant copies are those that reproduced the Popular Styles of the day. Some ‘copies’ illustrate the concept of Cultural Mosaic, as immigrants add the formal language of their homeland to the national design palette. Others draw inspiration from Nature and the vast Canadian wilderness and some even attempt to recognize the significance of Indigenous Design in Canada’s cultural fabric. Finally, witty Mashups by contemporary designers blend cultural commentary with humour and reveal today’s more relaxed attitudes towards copying.
Reaching back to indigenous design and the improvised solutions of early pioneers, to more recent work from Tobias Wong, Douglas Coupland and more, creative redesign is behind some of Canada’s most iconic designs. Cut/Paste highlights more than 100 years of this creative process at work.
Ceramic artists have borrowed forms and designs from each other and from other media for thousands of years. This mini-exhibition reveals how Canadian ceramic art has been enriched by the appropriation of formal and design elements from sources as diverse as Ukrainian textiles and First Nations ceremonial art.
An evening of discussion with designers Tobias Wong and Cynthia Hathaway.
Cynthia hathaway of Droog discusses the revitalization of ceramics in the Netherlands
Todd Falkowsky presents his suggestion for this year's colour.