Monday, September 7, 2009

designed in canada

When we go on furniture buying trips at U.S. international trade shows for Attica, we're asked where we're from by vendors. We tell them where our home is, and then we often hear the response, "Oh, Canadian - you're contemporary."

It wasn't always like this. For decades there was a general lack of identity in Canadian furniture design. I was once told many years ago that the research and development budget for Canadian manufacturers consisted of sending people to Italy to copy their designs. Now, though, through design, Canadian furniture manufacturers have emerged at the forefront, and a once staid international presence has evolved in to something that is exciting and dynamic.

Some would argue that the increase in Canada's cultural diversity, immigrants from Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America, has widened our design vocabulary and contributed to its vibrancy. While nationally we may be considered contemporary, within this culturally complex context there is many individual voices, many personal forms of expression. According to the Design Exchange in Toronto: "Each designer’s work constitutes a type of autobiographical text, where object made – while fitting, of course, into the standard categories that demarcate things – does not necessarily need to conform to any type of prevailing stylistic movement. Rather, the object’s manifest reference may have been drawn from cultural identity, prevailing aesthetic concerns and the ever-present awareness about the social role of design and the designer. In this way, contemporary design culture owes a debt to the legacies of postmodernity, insofar as postmodern culture rejected the idea of a master narrative or single way of doing something and encouraged – indeed demanded – the primacy of the person, particular and idiosyncratic vision. And this freedom can be found across all forms of cultural production. "

As Atlantic Canada's first contemporary home furnishings store, we have always promoted contemporary design. Increasingly, we are proudly promoting Canadian design, and the majority of what we feature is Canadian. It is now a source of pride to have something that is not only manufactured in Canada, but also designed in Canada.