HAPPENINGText: Rei Inamoto

Essentially, everything that surrounds us, except nature, is, one way or another, designed. From the clothes we put on and vehicles we ride, to books we read and letters that compose those books, everything that we encounter every single second is a piece of design. This Triennial, an inaugural show called “Design Culture Now” organized by Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, gives a good “overview of contemporary design in America.”

Greg Lynn, Hydrogen House, 1996, Model (Unbuilt)

This exhibition features the work of 83 designers and focuses on emerging talent as well as established designers who continue to drive design practice. The show is divided into eight sections, based on a “dictionary of ideas” – fluid, physical, minimal, reclaimed, branded, local, narrative, and unbelievable – rather than different design types. Each section scans through various types of work from architecture to product design, graphic design, and new media that share certain aesthetics.

Herbst Lazar Bell, Zuzu’s Petals, 1998, Prototype, Digital Toy

What’s most intriguing is the juxtaposition of different design disciplines that reflect one idea. For instance, in the “minimal” section, one sees a Palm Pilot by 3Com next to fashionable handbags designed by Kate Spade next to a poster and an interactive module by John Maeda. The whole exhibition is full of these juxtapositions and it is rare to see such a wide range of pieces in a very cohesive manner.

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