Design Exchange showcases art from the ‘60s to the ‘90s
By Jason Trottman
Pop In Orbit-Design From The Space Age is the current exhibition running at the Design Exchange until January 21, 1996. Like all things ‘90s, it’s a retrospective look of the 60’s and examines how the sphere became the popular motif for all designers during that period. According to curator Rachel Gotlieb, the sphere came to symbolize the space age and the sexual revolution, encouraging designers and marketers to use the futuristic and free-spirited spherical object.
Pop art also plays a part in the exhibition, as the 60’s marked the beginning of “Popular Culture.” “Pop” is defined by original pop artist Richard Hamilton as, “Popular (designed for a mass audience), transient (short-term solution), expendable (easily forgotten), low cost, mass produced, young (aimed at youth), witty, sexy, gimmicky, glamorous, big business.” In almost every piece in the exhibit, this definition of “pop” holds true. In the “Brave New Living” section: the Sputnik cigarette dispenser; Saturn casserole dish; the famous Canadian Ball-BQ; the Apollo stereo; stereogram dresses, or, my favorite, the Hovering Hoover Constellation vacuum cleaner, marketed to housewives who “were tired of earthbound vacuums.”
The exhibit’s five sections include fashion, architecture, consumer products and furniture design as well as a room where you can relax in a comfy beanbag chair and watch a 45-minute video, including clips from Barbarella, Star Trek, The Graduate, Electrohome commercials from 1965, and an interview with Buckminister Fuller. Canadian design from this period is represented with scenes from Expo in Montreal, the architecture of Ontario Place, and the 1957 design of Toronto City Hall.
The exhibition shows the optimism and hope that people had for the future during the 1960’s. The ubiquitous sphere symbolized a time of mobility and transition. What the exhibition left me wondering is, what defines our generation? What object symbolizes the 1990’s? Anyone?
If you are at all interested in design, whether interior, architecture, computer or product, then check out the Design Exchange at 234 Bay Street at Bay and King. They are open Tuesday to Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, noon till 5.