This month, the Design Exchange in Toronto has dipped into its permanent collection to present a show stemming from an extraordinary focus, among Canadian designers, upon light and sound, in order to evoke compelling aspects of contemporary life.
Our first photo brings to light a lamp based on the Mies van der Rohe Toronto Dominion Bank towers. As a miniature skyscraper, its expressive range would stress geometric precision—a far more intimate poetry than the full structures would provide.
Here the lamp system acts more as a sculpture than straightforward illumination of an interior space. Its structure would be particularly effective in bringing dynamics to a massive, static context.
Embedded in the cluster of spent fluorescent tubes is a live incandescent bulb undergoing filtering by that cladding. Here the priority is an upgrade (upon harsh functionality) which demonstrates an often-overlooked impetus in contemporary experience to improve qualitative factors.
Light playing on Montreal stairways, from a 1947 documentary film celebrating the, at that time unique in Canada, joie de vivre of the City.
A young woman getting ready for a date amidst the vast array of amusements, foods and beverages post-War Montreal was proud to reveal. The homey light by her mirror confronts the more eerie light on the railing outside her window.
Off to party, the couple can thank the highlight glitter of a dark night for adding spice and suspense to their pleasures.
Neon lights and reflections upon the sidewalk endow this adventure with a sense of—for them—extraordinary urban complexity and energy.
This exuberant stereo boosted the buzz in the 1967 film, The Graduate.

A Bakelite sound box—with Machine Age roadster wheels over the dial area, and ribbon-window architectural touches for the speaker area. A world of fresh touches has been enlisted here, in order to rise to the giddy and thought-provoking occasion which the marvels of radio transmission represented back then.
In addition to these gems, there was also to behold a characteristically odd and uncharacteristically consistently delightful Guy Madden movie about the Night Mayor of Winnipeg, an immigrant with Soviet Constructivist idealism and Slavic gloom, who uses the Northern Lights to transmit vignettes of salt-of-the-earth Canadiana from coast-to-coast (until busted by Officialdom). I think the DX has included this loopy fable amongst its otherwise sound phenomenology to: first, provide the Canadian products with a rootedness (however whimsical) in avant-garde design; and second, take note of a premium upon goofiness within a significant dimension of contemporary creative energies.

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