TORONTO.- For a decade, in the 1960s, Clairtone Sound Corporation captured the spirit of the times: sophisticated, cosmopolitan, liberated. From its modern oiled-walnut and teak consoles to its minimalist logo and promotional materials, Clairtone produced a powerful and enduring body of design work.
Founded in 1958 by two young Canadians, Peter Munk and David Gilmour, the fledgling manufacturer of hi-fi and TV consoles quickly became known for its iconic designs and masterful advertising campaigns. The company employed some of the most talented designers and original thinkers working in Canada at the timeamong them, Carl Dair, Dalton Camp, Chris Yaneff, and Hugh Spencerwho ensured that Clairtone used the wittiest copy, the latest typefaces, and the most up-to-date exhibit and signage systems.
Clairtones acclaimed Project G stereo, with its space-age styling, epitomized the Swinging Sixties. Famously, Hugh Hefner owned a Project G. So did Frank Sinatra. Oscar Peterson affirmed that his music sounded as good on a G as it did live. In 1967, suggesting how deeply Clairtones G series had come to be identified with popular culture, the G2 appeared in The Graduate alongside Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft.
The exhibit includes more than 70 artifacts including original Clairtone hi-fi consoles, vintage furniture and fashion, as well as TV commercials from the 1960s, Hollywood film clips, interviews with the founders, archival photographs, brochures, notebooks, and rare blueprints. The exhibition is an in-depth look at an iconoclastic company that once seemed to represent all the promise of Canada.
Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Clairtones launch, the exhibition coincides with the release of a new book about Clairtone by Nina Munk and Rachel Gotlieb. Also titled The Art of Clairtone: The Making of a Design Icon, 1958-1971, the 184-page book is designed by Hambly & Woolley Inc. and published by McClelland & Stewart.