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Capturing the Soul of a City

Philippe Lamarre with the mayor of Montreal, Gérald Tremblay, and Phyllis Lambert

Graphic designer Philippe Lamarre, co-founder of the multidisciplinary design studio Toxa and of Urbania, a quarterly magazine, has received the first Phyllis Lambert Design Montreal Grant, worth $10,000.

The grant will be awarded annually by the city of Montreal and was created in honour of Phyllis Lambert, founding director of the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA). It recognizes the talent of a Montreal designer who has been practicing professionally for fewer than 10 years and who stands out not only in the field but also for a keen interest in the city.

With this sum, Philippe Lamarre intends to index examples of vernacular graphic design over an 8-month period, that is to say public and commercial signage from the three Unesco Cities of Design: Montreal, Berlin and Buenos Aires.

Lamarre believes that vernacular graphic design, like architecture and urban planning, contributes to a city's personality. He states that "whether it is advertisements painted on brick walls or even signs, these visual artefacts embody the spirit of their time through the technique with which they were produced as well as by their style or content."

His research will be documented on a collective website where users can post images of urban vernacular design from cities around the world.

The jury members, Mirko Zardini (director of the CCA), Monique Savoie (president of the Society for Arts and Technology) and Marie-Josée Lacroix (design commissioner and president of Design Montreal), were taken by "the laureate's ability to explore and use non-conventional media to capture the soul of a city."

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