The hidden date for this stamp can be found underneath the steamer lounge chair.
It takes only a casual glance to realize we are surrounded by manufactured objects, tools, furniture, and domestic and urban fixtures - all products of industrial design. Some items are designed purely for function. Some items, such as chairs, are made with a balance of function and beauty. Other mass produced items are purely decorative. Not only do the designs influence our activities and thoughts, but in these items we find the reflection of our society's occupations, preoccupations, habits and fancies. In our designs we find a culture.
Canada Post celebrates Canadian industrial design with a bold and colourful stamp issue. This attractive domestic-rate stamp, to be issued July 23, is the work of designer François Dallaire. Depicted are various objects of furniture, tools and vehicles designed and built in Canada - each found on the stamp and on the connecting tabs. These represent the history of Canadian design through four functional themes - home, mobility, leisure and work. This stamp issue will commemorate the 20th International Congress of the International Council of Societies for Industrial Design to be held in Toronto from 23 to 27 August.
The term "industrial design" came into use after the Industrial Revolution in Europe. It described the process of deciding how mass-produced objects might look. Today, it refers to the practice of designing items whose formal and practical qualities are well-matched. Although there were brief glimmers of a Canadian aesthetic with CPR's, streamlined locomotives, and Massey Harris's tractors in the 1920s and 30s, a national current only came into its own in the post-war era. Shortly after 1945, the Canadian government redirected the machines of industry, previously devoted to the war effort, to fulfill the needs of a growing consumer society. In North America, early discussions of industrial design were closely related to a company's market image. Generally, large, bold and round objects were hallmarks of Canadian and American post-war design, from automobiles to blenders. It was perhaps a reflection of a new-found confidence and sense of grandeur. It was modernism, the bold and youthful belief that anything was possible. Yet, over the years, Canadian designers consistently moved away from the American commercially-driven designs and their largesse.
During the 1940s an index of Canadian designs was established and professional associations were formed. Manufacturing boomed. In this fruitful era of unprecedented economic growth, the first school to offer courses in industrial design was the Ontario College of Art in Toronto. At Expo 67, the bright lights of Canada's industrial design and architecture were put on display and the world was truly amazed. The thematic pavilions central to Expo 67, the innovative and asymmetrical Habitat Project on the fair's main site, and the furniture, fixture and inventions on display were proof that Canadians were capable of taking industrial design in new and daring directions. Now in the 1990s, there are a dozen schools across Canada training young designers. A plethora of design publications are devoted to supporting Canadian talent. The multiplicity of designs and influences, and the sheer energy of the design community is a reflection of a vibrant, multicultural nation.
The Canadian Museum of Civilisation, which opened in 1989 in Hull, is largely devoted to preserving the material history of our country, 20th century industrial design being a large part of the museum's collection. In Montreal, the Canadian Centre for Architecture and the Museum of Decorative Arts are places of active scholarship and influence. Industrial design companies are sprouting up in every major city and the activity shows no signs of abating. In 1994, an organization called the Design Exchange was established to preserve the nation's design history and to ensure its future vitality. It is largely due to this latter body and the Association of Canadian Industrial designers that this year's International Congress of International Design is taking place in Toronto.
The four "icons" of Canadian design that appear on the stamp are: