PHOTO ESSAY

Oh Canadiana

Highlights of the Canadian Design Resource

By David Balzer
April 18, 2006
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Red chair. Image courtesy of the Canadian Design Resource.

The Solair chair, made by Canadian company IPL and designed by the Italian firm Fabiano and Panzini around 1970, is an outgrowth of the design fervour that swept the country in the wake of Expo 67 (“Imagine it — people actually lining up to see shows about design!” says Erdmann). Such interest took bold, modish modernism out of high-end boutiques and into the pages of the Eaton’s catalogue, where the Solair, and similarly natty products like Giovanni Maur’s plastic stacking chairs (another CDR gem), sat alongside more traditional, wood-and-gilt wares.

The Solair also provides the template for the fruitful domestic-foreign partnerships that recurred throughout the decade, and that de Winter’s MOMA piece epitomizes. “It’s the first instance I can find of foreign designers being attracted to and producing work for Canadian manufacturers,” says Falkowsky. “And it’s an extremely inventive piece. The seat plastic pops out and the frame is readily stacked for storage and shipping purposes. The series has a sophisticated palette too, a combination of bright and muted colours that predates a lot of ’70s stuff.”

Evidence of the Solair’s resilience (“they’re bomb-proof,” jokes Falkowsky) can presently be found on patios and balconies of cheap motels across the country. The CDR’s own was “liberated” from an undisclosed location.

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