Classic Plastics


"There's a great future in plastics," says Mr. McGuire to Benjamin Braddock in 1967's The Graduate. The plastic revolution – embraced after World War II as the new miracle material – began in the kitchen where it replaced metal shelves in refrigerators, was used for Formica countertops, and replaced wooden handles of electric irons and kettles. Plastic offered a dramatic new look to furnishings in the 1960s, and like aluminum and moulded plywood, it transformed design in the last half of the twentieth century and was influential in Canada's first wave of design.

Plastic became a key environmental issue in the 1970s, causing designers to move away from the material. Technology developed for the car industry paired with efforts to protect the environment, gave the material new life in the 1990s. New thermoplastics (a material, usually a plastic polymer, that becomes soft when heated and hard when cooled) can be reformed for greater strength and versatility, use less energy for processing, and are cleaner to produce. Recycling has made plastic acceptable, and improved moulding techniques initiated by computer aided design and lower tooling costs, introduced a new look for polypropylene – the same material Karim Rashid's Oh Chair for Umbra is made out of.

On display, find rare objects from Design Exchange's Permanent Collection that illustrate how this once newfangled material inspired and influenced designers from 1945 to present day, and transformed the spaces where we live, eat, and play. 


Exhibition Curation + Coordination | Tara Akitt and Simon Letourneau
Admission | Free


On Display @ DX: Magic Molecule, Christopher Chapman & Hugh O'Connor, 1964, 9 min, NFB





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DX Headquarters is
located at 234 Bay Street

Mon: Closed

Tue-Fri: 9AM-5PM
Sat & Sun: 12:00-4:30PM

DX will be closed

Nov 4
for an installation

+ Oct 10
Thanksgiving Day

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