Modern Furniture in Canada: 1920-1970
Published: April 1997© 1997
224 Pages, 6.70 x 9.65 x 0.45 in
Canada's furniture history includes hitherto unrecognized work of international significance in modern design. In this richly illustrated study, Virginia Wright brings such accomplishments to the fore, employing archival photographs and original documentation to trace the development of professional furniture design, design education, and design advocacy in Canada from 1920 to 1970. Chief among the milestones were the production in Ontario in the mid-1920s of moulded plywood seating for assembly halls, and the world's first moulded plastic furniture produced in prototype by the National Research Council in 1946 - three years before the more famous designs by Charles Eames in the United States.
Within a narrative framework, Wright charts the development of modern design from its first appearance in an Eaton's department store, with pieces brought from the Paris Exposition of 1925, through its stealthy entry into Canadian homes, to its establishment as a dominant style. She shows how the introduction of modern industrial materials such as steel tube, rubber, and plywood into the production of commercial and institutional furnishings, and their incorporation into modern decor, reached a wide public through exhibitions and the media. Wright also reveals the relative neglect of this facet of Canada's art history by its museums and galleries, which, after featuring new furniture made in Canada, failed to acquire any for their own permanent exhibitions or study collections.
The first account of Canada's innovative furniture design and fabrication of the period, Modern Furniture in Canada, 1920 to 1970 opens the door to a whole new field of study.