The Modern Eye Exhibit: Craft & Design in Canada 1940-1980

The Modern Eye Exhibit: Craft & Design in Canada 1940-1980

When I wrote about our recently acquired bar stools, I mentioned the Modern Eye Exhibit that’s winding down at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. If you haven’t seen it, this Sunday is your last chance before the exhibit moves on.

To see so many amazing pieces all at once was almost too much! All I wanted to do was sit in the chairs, they were all so incredible and inviting… but I’m pretty sure I would’ve been tossed out on my tush if I tried! We were, however, allowed to take pictures without flash, so I was happy about that.

Here’s a little look at what we saw.

When we stepped into this room, I couldn’t get close enough fast enough to all these mid-century beauties.

This is the first chair that greeted us as we stepped around the corner.

Steamer Chair (1978) by Thomas Lamb

Can you believe it’s made of molded plywood? I do have a thing for molded plywood chairs, it seems, because I would totally take this one home! I felt that way about the Cherner chair too!

But how about this chair for comfort?

Cord Chair (1950) by Jacques Guillon

It’s made of wood veneer and nylon cord… I really wanted to sit in this one!

Okay, now this one is very cool.

Spring-Back Dining Chair (1951) by Peter Cotton

I like the idea of the flex back. Do you think it would make the chair more comfortable, or just easier to lean back after a big meal? 😉

That little corner of a table you see… well here’s a better look at it.

Glass-Topped Coffee Table (1950-51) by Peter Cotton

Another design by Peter Cotton, and did you notice how the legs match his Spring-Back Dining Chair? The shape actually reminds me of the Hardoy Butterfly Chair from 1938.

One of the common elements of Mid-Century furniture is a feeling of lightness, airiness. And this chair is a perfect example of that.

Hoop Chair (1955) by John Hauser

This chair would fit in any room without overpowering the space. Even in front of a window without blocking the view! And check out the shadows it casts – now that’s an art form of its own!

Did you notice the vase off to the right of the chair? It’s by Luke Lindoe, but the date is unknown. I think it’s a stunning piece with such a great shape and weight to it.

Speaking of pottery… all the pieces were really quite amazing.

Here’s a little snapshot of just a few.

Rooster (Early 1960s) by Thomas Kakinuma

The pieces you see (L to R) are:

Bowl (1960s) Designer Unknown, Bottle (c. 1960) by Hilda Ross, Vase (1960s) by Herta Gerz, Vase (1965) by Zelijko Kujundzic, and of course the Kakinuma Rooster in the center.

There’s a weightiness about all of them, almost a crudeness that balances the clean lines of a Mid-Century setting.

My hubby really liked this table and lamp.

Bedside Table (late 1950s) attributed to Jan Kuypers

Table Lamp (mid-1960s) by Lotte Bostlund

The table is made of solid teak, a wood common in many Mid-Century pieces, and the lamp has a ceramic base with a fibreglass shade, fibreglass shades being another popular MCM feature.

Did you notice the fab pottery vessel off to the left? It’s a Blue Pod Bottle (c. 1967) by Olea Davis.

And how about this sleek, white dresser?

Avant-Garde Dresser (1973) by Giovanni Maur

Aren’t the drawer pulls fab? They remind me of the overlays that are so popular right now. But honestly, one of the things that caught my eye with this dresser was actually the lamp on top!

Table Lamp (1960s) by Maurice Chalvignac

Again, a ceramic base. You will see a lot of ceramic bases in MCM table lamps, both glazed and unglazed. This lamp reminds me of a baseball glove catching a ball! Okay, I know that’s a bit of a stretch, but you can kind of see that, right?

And that’s the thing about Mid-Century Modern. There is always a subliminal suggestion, a hint to something other than what you see before you. That’s one of the reasons why I love it so much.

I’m disappointed I didn’t take a better photo of the decorative bowl on top of the dresser, because it really is quite cool. It’s a mid-1960s by Maurice Chalvignac as well. But if you go to the exhibit, you can see it for yourself!

Lamps in Mid-Century times were, and still are amazing statements in decor. Here are a few to feast your eyes on!

You can see how lamps of today have been influenced by the styles of yesterday…

The Pendant Lamp is c. 1959, but its designer is unknown. This lamp was manufactured by Rotaflex of Canada, Ltd., and Rotaflex lampshades were made of a continuous strand of nylon, and in this case the nylon strand wraps horizonally to make up the beehive-like shape.

The Desk Lamp (1949) is by Edwin Larden. This lamp is copper plated steel and aluminum, and you can see its influence in many desk lamps of today. Although today you will find chrome and brushed nickel more common than copper… I wonder how long that will take to change?

The Table Lamp (c. 1955) is a Stan & Jean Clarke design, and is a typical ceramic base style for Mid-Century Modern times. Just the other day my hubby and I were in ReStore in Victoria, and there was something similar for $5.00! If it suited our decor it would’ve come home with us… so it never hurts to know what you’re looking at!

The last Table Lamp, black ceramic base, is part of the Argile Vivante Series (c. 1964) by Jacques Garnier. This is a great representation of the statuesque lines, so sleek and graceful, that you see over and over in MCM design.

Can you tell lighting ignites a spark in me?

And in wrapping up, I thought this was kind of fun to share, too.

Does anyone remember what this is? Does Forma Ware ring a bell?

The end towers are stackable drinking glasses… on the left are 4 juice glasses. On the right you can see the size of the drinking glass in the one that’s standing solo. And in the middle, sugar dish, creamer, and napkin holder. These pieces are late 1960s, but the designer is unknown.

How about this collection? Anything look familiar?

It was the red phone that caught my eye. Love that phone and would so have it on my desk! It’s a Contempra Telephone (1968) by John Tyson.

The other items in the photo are:

Bottom: IPL Collection of Kitchenware (1978) by André Morin

Top (L to R): Radio (1960) by Max Ducharme; Magnajector Projector (1954) by Sid Berudsky; Radiolink Intercom Speaker (c. 1946) by Henry Finkel, and the red telephone!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this snapshot of the Modern Eye Exhibit, and the little walk through time, 1940-1980, of craft and design in Canada.

If you go, you will also see vintage stereos like this one, the Mini G-3 Stereo (c. 1967) by Clairtone Sound Corporation, and so much more!

Oh, and the Dining Chair & Table (1946) are by Waclaw Czerwinski & Hilary Stykoit… just to end on a moulded plywood note!

Remember, the exhibit ends this Sunday, November 27!

Do you have any Mid-Century pieces in your home? If not, are there any you would love to own?

Thanks for stopping by!

Photographs by Sheila Zeller



15 thoughts on “The Modern Eye Exhibit: Craft & Design in Canada 1940-1980”

  • Sheila,
    Thanks for sharing! I wish I could go and see it all for myself. I’ve always had a nostalgic warmth for mid-century furnishings – that’s kinda the vibe we’ve got going in my husband’s office. BTW, love that white dresser!

    • I think Mid-Century is such a perfect aesthetic for an office – my husband loves it! And that white dresser, I would so have that one in my home. I loved the pulls and how they are off-set…

    • You are so much fun! I don’t really know all this stuff… but every little bit that I learn is a building block for the next tid-bit of info! And I have a love for Mid-Century, so it comes easily. But if you ask me about a style I don’t gravitate toward, then I will probably recognize the style, but not know much about it in the deeper layers 🙂 There is always someone else who will though!

  • Such a fabulous exhibit! I wonder if it will move on to Vancouver? Or maybe it has been and I’ve missed it. I would have loved to have gone. Yes, I can see the baseball in the glove, but also see a pearl in an oyster in the Chalvignac lamp. 🙂

    • Meesh, I’m not sure what the next step is for this exhibit. But I really do hope you get an opportunity to see it, because you definitely came to mind. It’s predominantly MCM chairs, and I knew you would appreciate it so much!

      … And I think you’re way closer to what the designer was thinking with that lamp than me! I used to play ladies fastball, so I think that’s why I made that connection… operative word ‘used’ to play! Now I play vicariously through design 😉

  • So many great pieces Sheila! And you got to see these in person?? I’m with you husband on the side table and lamp – I really like both of those. And the hoop chair too. Fun stuff!

  • I was able to take in the exhibit yesterday, thanks to you, Sheila! I went with a girlfriend who is a child of the 1960s like myself and we took a wonderful trip down memory lane. It was interesting to see how Canadian designers interpreted/responded to what was going on in the rest of the design world at that time. Thanks for the heads up on the exhibit!

    • I was hoping to chat with you about the exhibit on Monday… I’m disappointed I had to rush away. So glad you enjoyed it. I could definitely see threads and cross-overs from the world scene in the pieces. It was interesting, and fun to see the pieces up close.

  • So jealous and you know it too! lol…Actually @Danielle…she DOES know her stuff (*wink*). They just HAVE to come to the mainland…!! Thanks Sheila…I am wiping up the droop as we speak…best post ever!!!

    • Hi Mel,
      I actually don’t sell any of the furniture I write about – this was a chair I saw at an exhibition I attended. I love this one, though – it’s one of my favorites!

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