ROM celebrates Canadian design and craft with Canadian Modern exhibition

A new exhibition presenting close to a century of Canadian artisanship and cutting-edge design is coming to the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum) starting this fall.

Running from December 3, 2022 to September 3, 2023, this new exhibition, Canadian Modern, will reveal the legacy of Canadian creativity and ingenuity across furniture, fashion, ceramics, and electronics through over 100 objects from the mid-twentieth century to the present.

Curated by Dr. Rachel Gotlieb with assistance from Dr. Arlene Gehmacher, Canadian Modern features work from more than 70 designers and 40 manufacturers, celebrating makers from across the decades.

“Canada has a rich and vital craft and design culture that is deserving of recognition and appreciation. By juxtaposing innovation and tradition, mass-produced and one of a kind, the exhibition strives to ask questions and foster debate about what defines Canadian design, as well as to underscore both the challenges and the joy in making,” says Dr. Rachel Gotlieb, Ruth Rippon Curator of Ceramics at The Crocker Art Museum and lead curator of Canadian Modern.

From Clairtone’s Project G stereo to Fluevog footwear, Canadian Modern showcases examples of culturally significant, limited-edition, and mass-produced objects designed and crafted in Canada.

Steamer Chair, 1978. Steam-bent maple plywood. Thomas Lamb (1938-1997), DuBarry.

The exhibition will feature some of the most well-known furniture, jewelry, fashion, glassware, ceramics, textiles, electronics, and graphic design, inviting visitors to take a fresh look at these everyday objects.

“From the chairs we sit in to the phones we text on, Canadian design is everywhere,” says Josh Basseches, ROM Director & CEO. “This exhibition is the story of that enduring influence – and a celebration of the imagination and ingenuity behind it.”

Wide-ranging in its scope, the exhibition will explore both exceptional and popular examples of Canadian craft and design, along with the vision and entrepreneurial spirit that drove it over the years.

Highlights on view include early pieces such as Jacques Guillon’s Cord Chair from 1950, while more recent pieces will feature some of the most important professionals working in the field today, including Scot Laughton’s original Strala Floor Lamp from 1986, alongside Douglas Coupland’s Bento Box Desk from 2013.

“Design and craft are often in flux, speaking to the moment in reflecting or shaping perspectives and needs,” says Dr. Arlene Gehmacher, L.R. Wilson Curator of Canadian Art & Culture at ROM and consulting curator for Canadian Modern. “Canadian Modern allows us to appreciate the ROM’s current collections and imagine possible new directions.”