Canadian Design History in Film

Canadian Design History in Film

The story of Canadian graphic design—like most things Canadian—is humble and underestimated. Finally, that story is being given its due exposure.

When it comes to ‘Brand Canada,’ it’s not hard to conjure up imagery that feels ‘Canadian.’ Maple leaves, beavers, hockey—Canada is a country of symbols. However, their famous red maple leaf flag is only the tip of the iceberg. Canada’s legacy of beautiful graphic design extends far deeper and it’s time it came out of hiding. 

In a project that has sprung out of Vancouver with gusto, Greg Durrell, Jessica Edwards and Gary Hustwit (Helvetica, Objectified, Urbanized) have teamed up to produce the first documentary film about Canadian graphic design: Design Canada

Design Canada tells the story behind some of the most familiar visual design elements in contemporary Canada from the ubiquitous maple leaf to the fan favorite CN Rail logo, the CBC logo and many more.

The film explores how graphic design changed the face of Canada and how it continues to influence us today.

Greg Durrell, who has been crafting this project has turned to Kickstarter to help bring the last bit of polish it needs to be released. “We’ve been filming Design Canada for over five years now, and have collected hundreds of hours of interviews, historical archives, and amassed a treasure trove of the rarest examples of Canadian graphic design,” Durrell writes on the Kickstarter page.

“Ultimately, design is communication, and it is with that ethos that we’re returning to this platform to help us share this unsung history with the world.”

Canadian design legends Burton Kramer, Rolf Harder, Fritz Gottschalk, Pierre-Yves Pelletier, and Raymond Bellemare, as well as contemporary Canadian and American designers Marian Bantjes and Stefan Sagmeister come together to showcase the vibrant design heritage of Canada. Durrell also states that “the film features one of the last interviews with the late Massimo Vignelli, who helped put Canadian design into an international context.”

“In celebration of the 150th anniversary, Design Canada reconnects the country with this unique aspect of its heritage.”

The Design Canada Kickstarter ends on March 30th. You can contribute to the project and snag some handsome prizes in the process. The film has a planned release for this fall and will air on Canadian television this winter.

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