Things matter

Some so very much more than others Things matter. Material things. Of course they do. But they don’t all matter the same; we have our favourites. Things usually refers to what has been made. Especially made with an intention. An old distinction has been made between that which is utilitarian, like tools and that which […]

Alternatives to virtuous vegetation

I hate kale. I realize that that’s not very politically-correct of me. Kale is overfull of virtue and its consumption will undoubtedly keep me cancer-free and wholesome in every way. But I don’t like it. I kind of wish I did, but I don’t and the vague social compulsion I feel to embrace it actually […]

Star struck

Designers overly impressed with their work? Many years ago, back in the first century BC, the architect and author Vitruvius laid out the objectives for good architecture. His rules can reasonably be applied to design and they have weathered well: Firmitas (stability), Utilitas (usefulness) and Venustas (attractiveness). The things we make, whether buildings, chairs or […]

Outsiders

Designers set apart by their work I used to ask a fresh group of first year students to raise their hand if they considered themselves to be an outsider. Everyone would. Then I would suggest that they look around and realize that they were no longer outsiders, at least not within the environment of the […]

Nordic 2018

Top of the world design fellowship In early March of 2018, I flew to Oslo to deliver a paper at a symposium at the Metropolitan University there. The planning had taken a year and a half, which overlapped with my teaching at OCAD University and consequently became the last of my commitments to it, contracted […]

Liberal: Capital L or lowercase?

I was called a liberal recently. And I wanted to reply threateningly as the Virginian said: “Smile when you call me that.” I knew I wasn’t being flattered, even though my only known flaw at the time was that I was from Toronto.But my accuser wasn’t completely wrong. I’m a designer too, and that kind […]

Canadian copies

Less flattery, more innovation needed I hate being embarrassed. Most of us do. Our dislike of that self-conscious sting is part of what keeps us behaving in a socially acceptable way, and that’s a good thing. But we tend to remember when we get caught out. Years ago, I was touring a group of students […]

Mindful museums

Where manual and fine art meet By Paul Epp I go to a lot of museums. I see it as professional development. I’m kind of in that business myself. I design things and I try to do a good job. Museums collect and display things that are done well and this sometimes includes my work, which is, of course, […]

Museum marvels

I’ve been visiting a lot of museums this summer. It’s been one of my intentions, as I drive across and around this country, and I’m lucky to have the opportunity to do this. Many of the small town museums are quite similar. They display the tools of an earlier technology and the everyday objects of […]

Few purple personalities in the design world

Gender equity is much in the news again. This issue seems to take the form of a wave, appearing in force periodically and then subsiding. But it doesn’t go away. Women want to be treated equally and they ought to be. But they are not always, so the struggle persists. There are gender overtones in […]