Creativity x Sustainability: Six Projects from the Canada Modern Archive

This Earth Day, take inspiration from six sustainable design projects produced by Canadian designers between 1966-1988. 


Eco Research Canada Modern

Eco-Research Ltd.

Anthony Hobbs, Brochure, 1973


Archive: CM11

A short promotional brochure for Eco-Research Ltd., with cover printed in black and bright green — a clear relation to the environmental field in which the company worked. Montréal and Toronto based Eco-Research provided research and analytical services for industrial organizations, offering environmental quality assessment such as air and water testing to determine the effects of pollutants on the surrounding area.
Dominating the front cover is a series of angled test tubes, distilled to bold graphic shapes. Each contains a black and white image relating to the organization’s field, positioned to alter the ‘measure’ in the tubes. Use of a strict three column grid throughout the interior underlines the clinical nature of the content and serves to present the information with clarity. 
Image of Earth Science Stamps

Earth Sciences Stamps

Fritz Gottschalk, Stamps, 1972

Archive: CM16
Fritz Gottschalk designed this set, released in 1972 to celebrate Canada hosting four events relating to exploration and development of the earth and man’s activities on the planet. The Geology stamp illustrates a cross-section of the crust of the earth, showing different layers of material. Geography an abstracted bird’s eye view of a village situated at the intersection of main and secondary roads. Photogrammetry is represented by an area within range of a camera lens at a high altitude. Within this area are two sun-lit mountains, simplified to two prisms. Black lines meet at a high elevation which represents the position of the aerial camera. Cartography is a simplification of mountains drawn in schematic shape by using “Siegfried” lines, used in Cartography in three-dimensional maps. The stamps are equally simple and detail rich. The colours and typography are so symbolic of the time, and perfectly exemplified.
A Walk in the Forest Cover

A Walk in the Forest

Ernst Roch + Rolf Harder, Booklet, 1966
Archive: CM31
A booklet commissioned by the Canadian Pulp and Paper Association to celebrate the central role that Canada’s forests play in the economic growth and prosperity of the nation. The book provides an ideal opportunity to combine the formal presentation of technical information with illustrations that bring this rich and diverse environment to life.
Image Bio Environmental Services

Bio Environmental Services

Brian Shelley, Logo, 1978

Archive: TM42 
This identity was designed for an official scientific research institute based in Georgetown, Ontario. Backed by the Ministry of the Environment, it produced reports on marine and environmental science, as part of the work to reduce water pollution and improve environmental protection regulations.
Brian Shelley founded Boa Design in 1977 having started his career at Art & Design Studios in Toronto, following his graduation from OCA.
Image End Waste

End Waste

Rod Nash, Logo, 1984


Archive: TM62


In 1984, under Bill Davis’ leadership, the Government of Ontario tasked Nash & Nash with creating a corporate identity for a new environmental energy company called Endwaste. The enterprise, aimed at turning waste into energy, was a partnership of private industry and the provincial government.
With its environmental approach to waste, Endwaste based itself on the four Rs — Reuse, Reduce, Recover, and Recycle. With this as the base, the company's symbol was created by rotating 4 lower case Rs in 90º increments creating a graphic “spark of energy”. Green wasn’t so much of a term for such strategies in 1984, so instead, the corporate colour chosen was blue, which at the time, related to the Progressive Conservative government who were in power at that time. (They were known colloquially as ‘Big Blue’.)

Image Environmental choice

Environmental Choice

Ted Larson, Logo, 1988


Archive: TM70


The Environmental Choice / Choix Environnemental logo (also known as the Canadian EcoLogo) is a scheme initially developed through the Canadian Federal Government. Its driving mission is a way for consumers to identify products and services that have been independently certified to meet strict environmental standards that reflect their entire life cycle — from manufacturing to disposal. This ultimately represents only the top 20% of products available on the market who are capable of achieving certification. It is North America’s oldest environmental standard and certification organization (and the second oldest in the world).

The logo was designed by Toronto-based graphic designer Ted Larson. His elegant, clever solution melds 3 peace doves, each with their wings spanning outwards, in flight together. Through careful consideration, the bird’s wing shapes form a maple leaf through their unified interaction. This winning solution manages to evoke a connection to nature, Canada, recycling and a love for our planet in one simple, beautiful composition.
List curated by Blair Thomson, Founder and Creative Director, Canada Modern

About Canada Modern

Canada Modern is a physical archive of modernist Canadian graphic design focused on the period 1960-1985. It exists to preserve, document, educate, inspire and build a richer understanding of a seminal point in Canada’s development as a nation. The collection is primarily interested in identity design, typography and graphic communication and is shared online via its own website. We cannot find the way forward without clear knowledge of where we began — perhaps through fostering a greater understanding of Canada’s first golden era of design we can begin the process of heralding a new one.
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