Looking for design in Montreal

So I’m back in Montreal after 3 years and nothing seems to have changed. I’d like to be proven wrong though. I am really amazed that whenever we speak of design here, what shows up is either related to urban design, architecture or interior design. Where is everything else? Certainly not listed on the pathetic site of the Institut de Design de Montreal which is getting more and more flash-y and less and less usable for anyone in the industry.

A quick overview of last month’s “portes ouvertes” of Montreal designers is a testament to this lack of variety:

– architecture and urban design firms (24)
– graphic design firms (10)
– interior design firms (4)
– product design (4)
– fashion design (2)
– museum installation design (1)

This is to say the least, pathetic.

No interactive projects, no photography, no wacky stuff, no multi-disciplinary labs, independent small time product designers. The Internet hello? Multi-media stuff, internet of things, mobile, anyone? Where are they hiding? Where is creativity being channeled? What are the hundreds of designers graduating every year doing now? Where are they showing their work? What are they working on? How is the design industry doing? What are the roadblocks? What is this thing people here call “design”?

Whenever anyone asks me “why don’t you work here”, well I usually answer “there’s no work and too much education to do”. Why does that always sound like I’m being a traitor? Why do I feel I’m wrong but have nothing to prove it?

So I thought I’d put my money where my mouth is and try to spend the next month meeting people I already know, reporting from the frontiers, walking around the city, looking for design. You will of course be able to read all about it here dear reader :) I might even make a special section for it! (woohoo an excuse to use the page function on my blog).

I’m dying to understand.

So I you know of anyone who would like to speak to me about this or you know of people I should go meet, places I should go see, PLEASE contact me!

Writing 'Creating a Culture of Innovation' (Out in 2020, Apress)

Comments (10)

  1. Please contact Marie-Josée Lacroix, Design Commissioner of the City of Montreal. I will send you the contact details, if you like.

  2. yes please do send me her info, i’d love to interview her.

  3. hi ,
    i appreciate your views over issues related to design or i would call it life.
    i am a industrial design and believe design is about making people feel more better.
    though i am working witg commercal vehicle design but keep reading, exploring, travelling around for inspiration and feeding my quest for knowledge.

    ok take care
    with love
    mukesh m

  4. Thanks mukesh for the support. Are you working in Montreal?

  5. what is the url of the special section? i would like to link to it.

  6. I’ll be putting all interviews / posts on http://designswarm.com/blog/looking-for-design/

    thanks again for your support!

  7. Hi Alexandra,

    Great little blog, excellent and relevant interviews detailing the sad state of some (not all) branches of design in this city. I too am an industrial designer now riding solo the fine line between art and design after (too) many years of corporate employment in this city. Your comments will hit many hard but some of us veterans of the scene are happy there’s someone debunking all the myths about “creativity” and “openness” in Montreal, the false heroes, the hermetic clubby mentality in this field.

    It may not be PC to say but Montreal also has a lot of mediocre talent simply here because life is cheap (still) and an apathetic, poor and uneducated public more concerned about finding bargains than experiencing true quality and uniqueness. Great town to hang around for the artsy lifestyle, poor bet if you want a career out of it.

    You want to measure up to both creative greatness and a demanding public, go to Europe (Berlin, London) or most major cities in Asia.

    (goodness, this was so un-Canadian to say …)

  8. Hi Adrian,

    Thanks for the support. yes it’s a damn great city to live in but I agree, public education and design community that competes are really lacking. Which is why i live in London I guess, here, you’re starving most of the time, but the rat race keeps you alive :) and you get blown away by what people do…

    yes sometimes its good to admit that there is something that Montreal isnt good at…

  9. Hi!
    I’m hoping you can help me. I am looking for a product designer in Montreal to help me bring my idea of an everyday product to market. It is a very simple design targeted for mass market. But I am a bit clueless when it comes to the steps to follow.
    Please answer to my email. Any help will be appreciated

    Thank you

  10. Hi Natasha,

    Can you be a little more specific about the area in which your project is situated? Is it furniture, sports equipment, etc? I’ll be able to help you out better that way :)

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