Above: The Clairtone Project G stereo, designed by Hugh Spencer and produced by Clairtone from 1964 to 1967. Fewer than 400 were made with about 50 still known to exist. Photo: George Whiteside.
For a decade, in the 1960s, Clairtone Sound Corporation captured the spirit of the times: sophisticated, cosmopolitan, liberated. From its modern oiled-walnut, rosewood, and teak consoles to its minimalist logo and promotional materials, Clairtone produced a powerful and enduring body of design work.
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Founded in 1958 by two young Canadians, Peter Munk and David Gilmour, the fledgling manufacturer of stereo 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 time––among them, Carl Dair, Dalton Camp, Chris Yaneff, and Hugh Spencer––who ensured that Clairtone used the wittiest copy, the latest typefaces, and the most up-to-date exhibit and signage systems.
Clairtone’s 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 Clairtone’s G series had come to be identified with popular culture, the G2 appeared in The Graduate alongside Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft.
About ten years ago I began collecting Clairtone’s Project G and G2 stereos. I knew very little about them other than that they were a Canadian design from the short-lived, but high profile company known as the Clairtone Sound Corporation. What I didn’t know was how few were made with far less existing still – around 50 are still known to be around by my calculation. What I also didn’t know was how to restore one of these stereos, which in most cases was needed after decades of neglect. But after some trepidation I learned as much as I could and successfully restored the first one. And it’s a steep learning curve – especially with rosewood! In the past decade I have restored about 30 Project G and G2 stereos and here’s a quick pictorial of one such restoration.
One of the more extensive restorations with the 'Found' Project G. Now located in Palm Springs, California. Click on image for full view.5275 false false true false true true false auto false ease-in-out 300 false 0 true true
CBC News feature about the Project G
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