A group representing 50,000 Canadian designers is wondering why the National Gallery of Canada chose an international design firm for its recent rebranding.
The Ottawa institution’s new logo was launched at the end of June as part of a new strategic direction called Ankose, derived from the word Anishnaabemowin meaning “everything is connected”.
The new logo and strategic plan, developed in consultation with four local Algonquin elders, Indigenous artists, staff and other cultural institutions, were created by Area 17 design office, which has offices in New York and Paris.
Mark Rutledge, president of the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada, said the gallery should have chosen a company in Canada, especially given the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the industry.
“It dismays me that the National Gallery of Canada has stepped outside our borders to seek out talent when we have it right here,” said Rutledge, who is also an Ojibway from the Little Grand Rapids First Nation.
“Why, as taxpayers, are we essentially paying an American studio to rename this Canadian organization, regardless of whether they have Canadians working overseas?” “
Watch: Designer disappointed with the National Gallery of Canada:
The lead designer is Canadian, according to the gallery
Rosemary Thompson, the gallery’s vice president of corporate, public and marketing affairs, said six companies – four Canadian and two American – have been invited to participate in the year-long process of developing the strategic plan and logo.
Thompson pointed out that two of the three Zone 17 partners are Canadian and that one of them, Kemp Attwood, was the lead designer for the logo project, which cost a total of $ 250,000.
“They came out on top because they had extensive Canadian experience, were fluently bilingual and had experience in the museum sector not only in the United States but around the world,” Thompson said.
Attwood, originally from North Bay, Ont., Worked in Vancouver and won design awards for his work with CBC Radio 3 before working overseas.
In a statement, Attwood said he was personally invested in the project “to help one of Canada’s foremost institutions truly represent all of Canada on the world stage.”
“I think it’s important that we recognize that Canadians can do well in Canada and that they can do well anywhere in the world,” said Thompson.
Rutledge, who has worked in Ottawa for a decade and is now based in Whitehorse, said Indigenous designers in Canada have added both cultural and professional expertise.
He said he was still waiting to hear directly from the gallery his questions about the selection process.