Canada kills our only Design Museum

As a former Chair of the Collections Committee at the National Design Museum (DX/Design Exchange), this is beyond sad.

Improving design consciousness in our society improves design in our society. Improving design in our society improves lives. Embracing design embraces humanity.

Good design has the ability to enrich lives, make living with accommodations accessible, provide an outlet for craft and the arts while being a foundation for the economy and innovation.

While it’s great that we have more design festivals like EDIT, and it’s always good to reach the public with design-led features rather than just keep dusty design objects in storage (unfortunately the reality for much of the DX collection), proactively preserving design and objects is something that needs to be done, and creating temporary “experiences” for instagram culture should not be the focus of our primary design institutions.

That being said, if we, as a country (or city) actually cared about design and public wellbeing we would certainly endeavor to have a role for design and action accordingly within the government and at all levels of education.


oh man, that is a bummer!

I’m sorry to see that - I enjoyed a visit there a few years ago (we have family in Tehranto (:P) and Montreal). Toronto has always seemed to have such a modern outlook but are the arts being de-prioritized of late?

The Montreal Design Institute quietly closed its doors in 2007 or so. Jobs and salaries have really taken off the last 3-4 years though. The disappointing part is that I feel business doesn’t really know or appreciate design, but that’s a global problem that museums have not solved.

There’s more and more design and culture here in Toronto …(the EDIT conference DX is putting on is excellent, though definitely not a replacement for a permanent collection).

The collection also was never really accessible nor well publicized or managed. Unfortunately from what I’ve seen priorities at institutions everywhere are just shifting to the easily captured millennial “experiential” pop up things with little or no substance beyond instagrammable photos. AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario -the best/one of the best public galleries in the country made so much money on the Infinity Mirrors exhibition that was not much more than a bunch of mirrors and literal 30s entry slots to take selfies that it bought a whole exhibit (excuse me, crowdfunded, LOL) for a permanent collection.

All that being said Design in Canada (a great movie BTW), certainly doesn’t seem to have the same heyday it had back in the 60s/70s where there was actually government support.

Now to find out where all that stuff is going…


Ours might be a struggle best approached from the “look how this business succeeded (whispered: with good design)” instead of "look at this good design! (whispered: its why businesses succeed).

See my UCI course post, I’m trying my best to spread the good word. To further help, I’m also building a course that I’ll start teaching in the Spring, The Integration of Business and Design in the Master of Arts program at MICA / MBA program at Johns Hopkins.

This is very relevant. Focus only on the “thing” is nice (ie. love #realdesignership for showing actual results of design, not just random sketches), but certainly design as a service to business and design integrated with strategy/marketing and implemented to make a business succeed is something else.(#realdesignershipandactuallysell ?)

I have another post in my mind about Design Awards to this effect I’ll rant on later, but design without context we all know isn’t design - it’s art, or something.


If you look at government support for other industries, software programming and movie making, it has resulted in people having to move a lot while wages and conditions have not improved (sometimes they actually got worse). Let’s allow the market to decide.

On the other hand, it would be great if the public had a greater understanding of how design makes life better.

I’m not suggesting government supporting design like film through subsidies (though that works too, Vancouver and Toronto definitely benefited), but rather through education and general awareness. The government supports our other museums, arts and craft segments, but not so much I’m aware of in design. Even design of government identities, buildings, etc. sometimes shows very little support for design. Have you been in a post office lately?


Don’t get me started on the post office! It’s like they hire a real graphic designer and interior designer for 1 1/2 years and then they hire someone’s 17 year old kid for 1 1/2 years. Very odd.

Why can’t art museums and history museums take care of this function? There was a very nice exhibit of mid-century modernism at the Montreal art museum about 6-7 years ago. I think a history museum showing the importance of design in everyday objects would be great. I would love to see an exhibit of hockey equipment evolution. You would see a huge step up when designers got involved and that could be pointed out in the exhibit.

I woke up this morning and I like the idea of a design exhibition at a history museum even more. Connect the importance of design with society.

Might be a bit of a hard sell. How about this…the Natural History Museum in DC has an evolution hall that is wonderfully and clearly linear - skulls from caveman to now, bones from pterodactyl to modern hawk - stuff like that.

Now pick a product or category where we can see a clear lineage that started with no ID/ergo/styling, evolved as popularity grew, continued to evolve WITH ID/ergo/styling, continued growth into market leading, continued into modern day, etc

That parallel could literally be run right through an exhibit hall, “Natural vs. Man Made Evolution” - tying the birth of ID/ergo/styling into it as a leap forward for man made “things”.

They kinda have that at the Bata shoe museum here in Toronto. From 10,000BC caveman shoes to renaissance slippers to Michael Jordans…


You have now added the Bata shoe museum to my list of things to do in Toronto, if I ever talk my wife into visiting. That must be fascinating!