gordongroup’s Robert Chitty: Q&A Thursday

Bob Chitty (Photo: Louise Casavant)

Robert (Bob) Chitty is the founding partner of gordongroup. He helped grow the firm  from a tiny design shop to a full-service marketing and communications company. While travelling to Canada’s north on one of his firm’s latest projects, he took time out to answer our extensive Q&A. The film  he references can be streamed online through the Grand Council of the Crees website and his blog, called “the essence” can be found at bobonbrand.

OCS: Who are your style icons?

RC: Tyler Brûlé, Richard Saul Wurman, Paul Martin

OCS: What’s on your bedside table?

RC: Book of Peoples of the World:A Guide to Cultures, edited by Wade Davis, K. David Harrison and Catherine Herbert Howell.

OCS: Best home accessory?

RC: Lawn tractor

OCS: Best recent fashion find?

RC: A Cree winter toque found at Khewa in Wakefield.

OCS: Whom would you invite for dinner if you could choose anyone in the world?

RC: [Canadian anthropologist] Wade Davis

OCS: You can see the debut of any piece of music in history. What would it be?

RC: The Mission theme by Ennio Morricone.

OCS: What’s your earliest memory?

RC: Being distracted from the teacher in Grade 1 by a classmate for the entire year.

OCS: Your biggest fashion faux-pas, when, where and how?

RC: As a teenager, I was influenced by the punk era and spent time with a good friend in London, England, when the scene was at its peak. Ian Dury, The Clash and Sex Pistols were established at that time abroad. I came back with lace-up boot sneakers that I bought there. This footwear was completely out of style in my home town in Ontario. This would have been in the mid- to late-70s when Kodiak construction boots were more the footwear of choice among my peers here in Canada.

OCS: Proudest moment?

RC: Being in the front row at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Montreal for the screening of the documentary film Together We Stand Firm, among my colleagues and many of those who played a role. The audience included dignitaries, including John Charest, who were witness or involved in this landmark event from the past. It was a production I was mandated to produce by the Cree people about the late Dr. Billy Diamond, Robert Kanatewat, Dr. Philip Awashish, Fred Blackned, Abel Kitchen, Smally Petawabano of Eeyou Istchee and the signing of the James Bay Northern Quebec Agreement in 1975. The documentary is a series that explains for viewers how the first modern day treaty among Aboriginal people and Canadian/Provincial governments took place. It’s a remarkable part of our Canadian history and [thanks to] innovative thinking by the Crees, it has been preserved for their future generations.

OCS: Favourite piece of furniture?

RC: An antique mission chair that was part of my parents’ household.

OCS: Qualities you most admire in a person?

RC: Lack of pretense, openness or generosity and honesty.

OCS: For whom would you most like to design for?

RC: Developers of natural tesources that demonstrate integrity and want Canadian Indigenous Societies to realize tangible economic benefits, specifically when they set up construction where Indigenous groups have resided from time immemorial.

OCS: Describe a perfect day off (it can be anywhere in the world).

RC: Taking a voyage along the Gatineau River onboard the Rigid Hull Inflatable to Wakefield for lunch.

OCS: Favourite visual artist, living or dead?

RC: Paul Rand, a designer who created many of corporate America’s most memorable logos.

OCS: Favourite local artist (if different from above, and doesn’t have to be a visual artist)?

RC: Margit Hideg lives in Chelsea. She is an inspiring person and friend who finds incredible strength through her painting expression.

OCS: Best book you read in the past year?

RC: The TAO of Abundance by Laurence G. Boldt.

OCS: Favourite food?

RC: Pasta

OCS: Most-oft-played song on your iPod or MP3 player?

RC: Daniel Lanois, I Love You from his Shine recording

OCS: Wine, beer or both?

RC: Both but recently I formed a Manhattan Club.

OCS: Mac or PC?

RC: Mac

Chitty cooking on his Big Green Egg

OCS: Fine dining or plain old diners?

RC: Cooking on the [Big Green] Egg outside makes for special culinary experiences.

OCS: Best restaurant in Ottawa?

RC: The people at Fratelli have been especially great while I’ve been with clients and business associates in Westboro.

OCS: Person, place or thing that makes you proudest/happiest that you live in Ottawa?

RC: The people who bring their expertise together at gordongroup: Howard Whittaker, our team, clients and friends of the company make me happiest.

OCS: Fave blog or website?

RC: Recently I’ve renewed an interest in photography, I’ve found the Nikon D7000 users guide online a great tool for learning about the cameras function.

OCS: Twitter, Facebook or both?

RC: Facebook has been useful for a variety of purposes including having an idea about what my son Harrison is up to. Facebook happens to provide ease of contact toward people who are in my circle locally and internationally.  Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn provide me a channel that allows distribution of information. This is an aspect of the business I run.

OCS: What’s your guilty pleasure?

RC: Montecristo cigars and Manhattan drinks. I’m facing off over the best whiskeys and bourbons with my neighbour who also indulges in this guilty pleasure.

OCS: Favourite place to spend time?

RC: On the water, in a boat with Louise, my life partner. I was privileged to grow up in a house on the water that has a boathouse at a scenic spot along the St. Lawrence River in the 1,000 Islands. Boating provides many magical experiences and is something I find very compelling.

OCS: How would you like the world to remember you? What would your eulogist ideally say?

RC: “He contributed to the lives of others positively.”


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