Design Exhibit shows London what Canada is made of and what Canadians are making

Necessity, Plato once wrote, is the mother of invention. So it is no surprise that Canadians invented the light bulb for our long, dark winters, the Skidoo to travel in blizzards, the DASH-7 jetliner to get around our vast, empty country and time zones to keep everyone, well, on time.

Canadians continue to invent and RED + WHITE Canadians in Design is an exhibit that opened on September 23 at Canada House in London, England for the 100% Design festival. The exhibit showcases the necessities of Canadian living in the 21st century.

RED+WHITE features commercially viable products from more than 15 designers that exemplify the way Canadians use innovative materials and manufacturing processes. The exhibit also shows how geographic and cultural influences shape Canada’s design ethos. Whether its whimsical new lighting designs, products made from tree bark, a deep-water dive suit or food innovations such as “ice cider,” the exhibit is set to show a vast international audience what Canada is made of and what Canadians are making.

“Our creative-based industry is extensive but relatively anonymous internationally,” says Christian Blyt, a designer with Vancouver-based BARK* Design Collective which is organizing the exhibit. “We hope the RED+WHITE exhibit generates new business opportunities for Canadian designers, builds our international reputation as innovators and creates cultural exchanges between the United Kingdom and Canada.”

The exhibit features both prototype and commercial products from a broad cross-section of Canada’s creative design community from the award-winning upstart Molo Design to well-established outdoor product manufacturer Arc’teryx. Exhibit items will range from sporting apparel, shoe design and jewelry to furniture, home accessories and glass. One showstopper will be the “Exosuit.” Developed by underwater adventurer Dr. Phil Nuytten of North Vancouver, it is a deep-water dive suit that looks like it belongs in a Star Trek episode. Divers can descend to ocean depths of 600 feet for 48 hours.

RED+WHITE opens for 100% Design, which is part of the London Design Festival that enjoys international press coverage and attracts 500,000 visitors each year. Douglas Coupland’s exhibition titled CANADA HOUSE opened simultaneously with RED+WHITE in London on September 23. Both exhibitions will run until January 21, 2005, at the Canadian High Commission’s cultural center, called Canada House, in Trafalgar Square.

“Countries around the world are recognizing the importance of design and creativity, not just the commercial sector but public as well,” says John Sorrell, the chairman of the London Design Festival. “Governments are realizing the importance of creativity in their nations not just cultural importance but economic as well. We have moved from the age of technology to the age of creativity.”

RED+ WHITE is the third design exhibit hosted within a year by the BARK* Design Collective. BARK’S previous exhibitions include No Apologies Necessary: Design From Canada held at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo in October 2003. The Tokyo exhibit was then brought to Vancouver and renamed Raw Potential because it was held in a derelict, rundown building in gastown in December 2003. No Apologies Necessary was rated in the top ten of some 150 exhibits by Japan’s leading design magazine Casa Brutus.

BARK* Design Collective was founded in 2003 by Vancouver designers who recognized a lack of support, identity and dialogue in the West Coast design scene. BARK’s mandate is to heighten the profile of Canadian design and to promote the principle that culture and commerce are symbiotic: one cannot exist without the other. BARK actively engages the public through local and international exhibitions. It is a non-profit organization whose founding members include Christian Blyt (Emily Carr Institute of Art + Design/Greenhus), Beth Hawthorn (this is it design), Marja Koskela (Greenhus) and Robert Studer (this is it design).

For more information, please contact Christian Blyt of BARK Design Collective at 604.844.3887 or