Art of Craft – curator talk

Art of Craft Exhibit Design/”By Hand” Curator Talk – presented during the Museum of Vancouver Art of Craft curator talk and tour evening, January 14, 2010
by Kirsti Wakelin



Earlier this spring, Darren Carcary of Resolve Design, and I were handed a stack of paper containing photographs and dimensions of over 120 objects for “Unity in Diversity” and “By Hand” that were to make up two of the three galleries in the Museum of Vancouver’s January 2010 exhibition Art of Craft. Immediately inspired by the objects we were to be working with, we began by creating a virtual model of each piece so that we could begin the long process of designing the Art of Craft exhibition.

It became quickly apparent that this was an incredibly diverse show. For all intents and purposes, the only thing many of these objects had in common was that they were made by skilled hands. We also realised that we wanted to keep the design out of the way of the objects. This approach informed our colour pallete and typographic treatment for all three galleries, and the pathing and display decisions for “Unity in Diversity” and “By Hand”.


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New work – Art of Craft films

film still | Jinny Whitehead, wood-fire potter

I’ve uploaded four films we shot and produced profiling the process of 4 local Vancouver craft artists, to my website . We created these films as a personal, side project while we designed the Museum of Vancouver’s exhibition Art of Craft and then screened them in a subsection of the Art of Craft “By Hand” gallery. We were inspired by the objects in the exhibition and the craftsmanship that went into making them and wanted to introduce museum visitors to (a small hint) of the artists’ process.

The films can be viewed on my website, Resolve Design’s website, or on Resolve Design’s vimeo account.

Thank you to the Canadian Craft Council for facilitating, to the artists who opened their studios to us, generously accommodating our film making. Also to our talented friend and soundtrack engineer, Jeff Griffiths for doing us such a big favour. Additionally, to Chad Crouch, who’s music ended our long and painful search for appropriate Creative Commons music. Got a film project that needs music? Looking for music to license for a commercial project? Want to buy an album to listen to? Please check him out.


film still | Peter Kiss, wood sculptor

film still | Barbara Heller, tapestry artist

film still | Barbara Cohen, sculptural jeweller

MOV Art of Craft Opening Soon

MOV Art of Craft

The exhibit Darren Carcary and I co-designed for the Museum of Vancouver opens January 14th, 2010.

The opening party is January 13th at 7pm – for more info on the event and to buy tickets please visit the MOV website.

There is also a curators’ talk and tour on the evening of January 14th.

The exhibit includes amazing Canadian and Korean craft talent and we feel very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to design an exhibit around such inspiring pieces.

MOV Art of Craft exhibit design


December 17, 2009 was the first day of vinyl install for the MOV Art of Craft exhibit. We started with Unity In Diversity – the Canadian National exhibit space and also began installing a few of the objects in the space.


National Gallery – with platforms, shelving and title wall installed


A few of the objects were installed by the end of the day – the mannequin is in the process of being dressed before being moved to its location on one of the platforms.

We shot a time lapse over the course of the day – the vinyl installers were in so it’s mostly video of a lot of people running around, climbing up and down ladders, punctuated by Darren and I standing around deciding on exact hanging placements for wall mounted objects.

MOV Art of Craft exhibit design

The Museum of Vancouver‘s Art of Craft exhibit opens January 14th (opening night January 13th). We intended to blog the design process as we went along, but we’ve been so consumed with the design that we haven’t had any time to distill things down into posts. But I’d like to get a few work-in-progress photos up before opening night.

This is what the galleries looked like on November 12th. The previous exhibit, Velo-city, had dark walls (the remains of that are seen in the first photo). The BC and Canada gallery spaces show the new, light wall colours.

Korean Gallery

Republic of Korea exhibit space

BC Gallery

BC exhibit space

National Gallery

Canada exhibit space

MOV Art of Craft exhibit design

Following the design of the MOV Studio, Darren Carcary and I began the process of designing an upcoming exhibition of craft at the Museum of Vancouver. The exhibit spans three gallery spaces and will highlight works from Canada, BC and the Republic of Korea.

The design process is now into the final leg – the galleries have been painted and the exhibitry built and we’re now focusing on the finalisation of type graphics as well as a film component that we’ve built into the design. More on this project soon…

Using Design for Good

Everything has been tinged a little green these days, including design. There is plenty of information about it how to do it, plenty of books written about why, and plenty of talks and discussions by people who are practicing it. Clients are now demanding it, paper companies have created more sustainable product lines in response to it, and some design firms are specialising in it. In the past, greener design was seen as an expensive extra, but these days there are examples where it can make good economic sense. There are also options at all levels of the design process where more sustainable choices can be made.

Practivism 2008

Last year I attended GDCBC’s first Practivism event where three speakers discussed their experiences with practical activism in relation to green design within their design practice. It was an enlightening and encouraging evening. I came away with a new way of looking at design and a commitment to making better design choices. I was especially impressed by Brian Dougherty of Celery Design and the studio’s concept of designing backwards. I immediately read his (and celery design’s) book Green Graphic Design cover to cover and put what I read into practice on the first project at hand – the MOV Studio design. It was an enlightening ride through a forest of supposedly sustainable options. I don’t think I would have been able to make proper sense of things without the book as a guide. I found that while there are a lot of new sustainable options when it comes to printing substrates, not all are what they seem. Recycled vinyl is still vinyl. Its final resting place is still the landfill – for a very, very long time. And for some materials there are no, as of yet, good solutions. As designers we have to be savvy when it comes to labeling. Design isn’t just about graphic design any more – design is the whole process. Including the part we don’t think we’re part of – the beginning and end of the materials we are utilising.

Practivism 2009

This brings me to the whole point of this post. Practivism is back for a second year. This time the focus is on social sustainability. Environmental sustainability has been a buzzword for some time. I’m pretty sure, when asked, most people could tell you what it is and give an example of a environmentally sustainable initiative. But what about social sustainability? And what is our role as designers in that?

The speaker line-up is impressive: Andréa Pellegrino (Worldstudio), Nathan Shedroff (Design is the Problem), and Kara Pecknol (IDEO Human Centered Design Toolkit) and the location this year is the Museum of Vancouver, a fitting place to begin a discussion about what design’s role in social change can and has been.

Join the discussion on November 19, 2009.  The itinerary is as follows:

Cash bar/ snacks/ MOV exhibit tours: 5:30pm – 7:00pm
Speakers/ Dialogue: 7:00-9:00pm
Reception: 9:00-10:30pm

Full event, speaker and ticketing details on the Practivism website.

The Canadian Design Resource Blog

The Canadian Design Resource blog

Thank you to the kind folks at The Canadian Design Resource blog who recently blogged one of the illustrations I created for lululemon athletica last year.

The CDR has become one of my favourite blogs recently as it showcases such a range of all types of Canadian design and illustration both contemporary (and quirky) and delightfully retro. There are hay balers and overpasses, trivets, beer packaging, Newfoundland dogs and everything in between.

The canning jars are a particular favourite of mine since my boyfriend and I made our first foray into canning by making refrigerator pickles in his grandmother’s old made-in-Canada glass-lidded canning jars:


While on the subject of Canadiana, I have to sneak this stamp design in:

Lorne Greene is 51 Cents

New work – MOV Studio Design

There was a mummy and a bicycle, a cougar and a beaver, as well as an (abridged) time-line of the history of Vancouver and the world. The floor was concrete so the acoustics were awful. The space was cluttered, confusing pathing and overwhelming the room – were the exhibits to the left or right? The Orientation Gallery at the Vancouver Museum needed a redesign; the Vancouver Museum was becoming the Museum of Vancouver. The brand was new and ready to be launched, the museum’s direction had been redefined and great new exhibitions were planned for the future (Velo-City was opening soon). The Orientation Gallery was soon to undergo a change of name and floor covering.




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