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Senior curator in MoMA’s department of architecture and design, Paola Antonelli is also a verb. She said so herself in describing her approach to curating, in general, and particularly preparing for her upcoming summer show, Talk to Me, opening on July 24. “Emilio Ambasz once said there were different categories of curators and one is “to hunt and gather” and I definitely fall into that one, always hunting and gathering to bring back design to nurture you,” Antonelli said in an interview at her MoMA office, a glamorous perch with a sculpted felt wall and a bean bag chair to keep visitors off their toes and on their asses.
The curator described how Talk to Me would show how performance, communication, and interaction are supplanting function as the main job of design. And while we are accustomed to the many metaphorical ways that things speak to us—say, a treasured knick-knack—increasingly, they literally talk as part of their job, complete with conversational ticks. A radio, for instance, might sneeze to clear dust from its speaker. “The new generation expects things to comment about everything,” Antonelli said. “Little kids tap on t.v. screens expecting them to respond.”
In this gabfest, everything’s talking at you, from a wi fi diving rod by British designer Mike Thompson and artist Kacie Kinzer’s Tweenbots that roam the streets depending on the kindness of strangers to read their destination on a flag and point them in the right direction to appliances that announce their energy use to a low-cost eye-tracking system being developed through open-sourcing to help the paralyzed write with the movement of their eyeballs. It’s a round-up of unusual suspects. And as we have come to expect from Antonelli and her team, including curatorial assistant Kate Carmody, it will round up the silly and the sensational, the polemical and provocative (a machine showing transsexuals how to menstruate, including a dance video), the comfortingly obvious (Metro Card machines) and the always breathtaking (BIX, the display skin of the Kunsthaus in Graz by architects Peter Cook, Colin Fournier, and their Spacelab team.)
Interaction of all sorts, according to Antonelli, depends on design, and to get the message across, designers write the scripts. “I may be putting words in their mouths, but that’s my job,” she said gamely, confessing that talking interfaces and machines communicating has been a long obsession dating back to Max Headroom, the fake A.I. puppet and mascot of the cyberpunk movement of the 1980s.
But don’t take my word for it. Talk to Me MoMA already has a blog dedicated to tracing the steps, sources, and research going into the show. Antonelli wants to hear from you, too.
Herzog & de Meuron, Studio Gang, and DS+R among those shortlisted for new Royal College of Art campus in South London
- Christian Kerez (Switzerland)
- Diller Scofidio + Renfro (U.S.)
- Herzog & de Meuron (Switzerland)
- Lacaton & Vassal (France)
- Robbrecht en Daem architecten (Belgium)
- Serie Architects (UK/Singapore)
- Studio Gang (U.S.)
- Dr. Paul Thompson (Chair)
- Professor Naren Barfield
- Richard Benson
- Dr. Adrian Lahoud
- Professor Judith Mottram
- Baroness Gail Rebuck
- Alan Leibowitz (lay member of Council)
- Professor Ricky Burdett (lay member of Council)
- Professor Rachel Cooper OBE (lay member of Council)
- Paola Antonelli
- Marcus Cole (student)
Flavor: Faking It and Making It
The Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD) and Brooklyn-based Labour on how to design for taste and smell
Channel the puckish spirit of Philip Johnson, for an afternoon at least: Director Henry Urbach invites you and three guests on a private tour of the Philip Johnson Glass House and its 49-acres of beautiful grounds. This National Trust Historic Site was created to be a catalyst for the preservation and interpretation of modern architecture, landscape, and art, and as you explore the house and grounds, Urbach will explain the place's history and evolution.Bid on the experience here. Private helicopter ride with Iwan Baan According to Van Alen:
Get a bird's eye-view of an important new building with architectural photographer Iwan Baan, who will take you on a private helicopter ride during one of his upcoming shoots, currently planned for Los Angeles, Paris, New York, or Chicago. Afterwards, join Baan for a private walk-through of the project being photographed; you're likely to be one of the very first visitors.Bid on the experience here. Hudson Valley hike with Rafael de Cárdenas According to Van Alen:
Sometimes you need to leave New York City for a little while to remember why you love it so much. Escape city life for a day with architect Rafael de Cárdenas as he takes you to breakfast and then on a hike in New York's Hudson Valley. Discuss architecture and design with de Cárdenas as you explore this beautiful landscape; he may even take you to his favorite secret waterfall.Bid on the experience here. Oregon motorbike tour with Brad Cloepfil According to Van Alen:
What could be better than a motorcycle tour of Oregon Wine Country? Going on that tour with architect Brad Cloepfil, whose firm Allied Works is deeply influenced by the landscapes of the Pacific Northwest. Together you'll sample the area’s finest Pinot Noirs at four distinct wineries, and go on a private tour and tasting at Sokol Blosser Winery's new tasting room, an elegant Allied Works building tucked away in the hills.Bid on the experience here. Discover architecture in Rwanda with Sharon Davis According to Van Alen:
What does the future look like for 300 Rwandan women? Full of potential, thanks to the Women's Opportunity Center, designed by architect Sharon Davis. Join her on a private tour of this extraordinary complex that is allowing women to grow their own food, raise their own animals, and use traditional African crafts to earn financial independence and rebuild their lives after war. The series of clustered pavilions is organized in the same way as a traditional Rwandan village, and uses bricks made on site, retained earth walls, and cooling green roofs.Bid on the experience here. Milanese dinner at home with Paola Antonelli According to Van Alen:
Ever wonder how a design visionary chooses the objects and furniture that surround her? Find out when MoMA curator Paola Antonelli, who has developed some of the most compelling and trenchant exhibitions of design and its role in every aspect of our culture, invites you and three guests to her apartment for a home-cooked Milanese meal. Discuss everything from culinary traditions and the tools that have grown up around them to the issues and ideas on her radar right now.Bid on the experience here. Cocktails and Model Museum tour with Richard Meier According to Van Alen:
How does one of the defining minds of contemporary architecture like his cocktail? You'll find out after Richard Meier himself leads you and two friends on a private tour of the newly-opened Richard Meier Model Museum, where he displays a career-spanning collection of architectural models and an exhibition of his sketches, renderings, photographs, and sculptures. After the tour, the four of you will head to Meier's favorite bar for cocktails and conversation.Bid on the experience here. Tour of Eero Saarinen's Bell Labs with Alexander Gorlin According to Van Alen:
The Bell Labs complex in Holmdel, New Jersey, is revered by architects and research scientists alike: The Eero Saarinen-designed complex is famed for its mirrored curtain wall, innovative plan, and role as the site of Nobel Prize-winning research in laser cooling technology. Architect Alexander Gorlin takes you on a private tour of this mid-century hub of technological ingenuity that he is restoring and transforming into a mixed-use town center with housing, retail, and a wellness center for the surrounding community.Bid on the experience here. Architecture, art, and food in Seoul with the Kukje Gallery According to Van Alen:
Are you curious about the dynamic and burgeoning Korean art scene? Seoul's Kukje Gallery is at its very heart, and since its founding in 1982 has been one of Asia's leading exhibition centers. The newest gallery space there is K3, a pavilion designed by architects Florian Idenburg and Jing Liu of SO-IL. A Kukje director will give you and three guests a private tour of this striking new space, and afterward, enjoy dinner for four at the renowned Café at Kukje Gallery.Bid on the experience here. Preliminary furniture sketch from Freecell Architecture According to Van Alen:
Do you have an idea for amazing piece of furniture, or have a room that needs a custom piece? Take a trip to Freecell Architecture, a Brooklyn-based 3-D installation, design, and furniture studio, where they will work with you to take your rough idea and transform it into a buildable design. Whether that is a desk that folds into seating, a table with glowing electroluminescent surface, pneumatic seating with built-in-technology, or something as-yet undreamt, these skilled designers will create drawings for you that are elegant, precise, and entirely your own.Bid on the experience here.