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 […]

Want to be paid by the hour or the job?

I used to divide people into two types, when I was thinking about how they work. One type works according to elapsed time. That type gets paid (or expects to) according to the amount of time that they spend on the job. It’s a bit like a metered taxi. As long as the meter is […]

Building steps

The line between rules and freedom I’VE BEEN LOOKING AT THE WOODWORK on this little island in the Andaman Sea, tucked in between coastal Thailand and Burma. Its rudimentary, to be sure, but not without interest. Most of the use of wood is architectural and the buildings are small. They are fairly minimal, and that […]

Back door of a gratifying career

When I first arrived in Toronto, newly removed from the Peace River country of northern Alberta, I lived, by chance, very close to the Art Gallery of Ontario. This was very lucky for me and it became one of my favourite places in the city. The context was that before I came to Toronto, I […]