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Responses by Blair Thomson, creative director, Believe in

Background: Canada Modern is an archive of modernist Canadian graphic design focused on the period from 1960 to 1985. The culmination of a long held ambition to curate a comprehensive national cache, the archive was conceived in 2017 and launched earlier this month. New content is being introduced regularly, and the ambition is to build the site into a valuable and inspiring educatioanl resource.

Reasoning: The early ’60s saw the rise of social and cultural modernization. An influx of aspiring designers arrived from Europe, bringing not only their disciplined training, but also an opportunity to shift the industry towards that of clarity and rationale. Through working alongside local talent and North American commerce, a new responsive aesthetic emerged—“Canada Modern,” a utilitarian foundation combined with creativity and sensuality.

Favorite details: The entire visual language for the site was deliberately created to give a sense of the era, with contemporary technology at its core. The color palette was sampled from genuine references. The typographic grid, while built around a modern responsive framework, was developed to work with the foundations of the international style. Even the entire icon system was built on a 16x16x16 hexagonal grid.

Technical features: With each refresh of the page, the grid and image ratio are uniquely altered to that visit, and content can be filtered by arbitrary and sequential views. Also, large, bold red panels overlay each post upon mouse hover, weaving a “red thread” through the entire site experience.

canadamodern.org

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