Why NOT Design Now?

May 19, 2010

On May 14, the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum opened “Why Design Now?,” the fourth exhibition in the National Design Triennial series. The show explores the work of designers addressing human and environmental problems across many fields of design, from architecture and product design to fashion, graphics, new media and landscape design. Inaugurated in 2000, this year’s edition features work by SVA faculty members Steve Duenes (MFA Interaction Design Department), Stefan Sagmeister (MFA Design Department) and Scott Stowell (MFA Design Department).

In addition, several members of the SVA community got a closer look at the process involved in mounting the exhibition. This spring, second-year students from the MFA Design Criticism Department were part of a special class taught by Cooper-Hewitt deputy curatorial director and SVA faculty member Matilda McQuaid that explored  “Why Design Now?”  Held at the museum as the exhibition planning unfolded, the class focused on the conception and development of the Triennial, as well as the special work that goes into preparing an exhibition of this subject and scale.

“The number of moving parts in thinking about and planning an exhibition are mind-blowing,” says recent graduate Angela Riechers (MFA 2010 Design Criticism). “I was most interested in the way the curators positioned the show and selected the objects, both in light of what’s happening right now in the world of design and what the Cooper-Hewitt has done in the past two Triennials.”

“Have we reached a point where it’s design’s moment to save the day?” Riechers asks, adding, “Well, something or someone has to. Why NOT design now?”

“Why Design Now?” is on view until January 9, 2011.

Images: (top) Solvatten Solar Safe-Water System. Petra Wadström (Swedish, b. 1952), Solvatten AB. Manufactured by Mälarplast AB. Sweden, 2008; photo: David Wadström. (bottom) Medellín, Colombia, Jardin Botanico-Orquideorama (Botanical Garden). Alejandro Bernal (Colombian, b. 1973), Felipe Mesa (Colombian, b. 1975), Camilo Restrepo (Colombian, b. 1974), and J. Paul Restrepo (Colombian, b. 1944), PLAN B Architects. Colombia, 2004–7; photo: Sergio Gómez.

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