In what might be one of the darkest ironies of the COVID-19 saga in New York City, the Cooper Hewitt has been forced to close the Willi Smith: Street Couture retrospective before it opens, the first museum exhibition of the influential American designer Willi Smith (1948–1987), whose career was cut short when he was killed by the AIDS crisis in 1987. Smith, who in 1976 founded WilliWear with partner Laurie Mallet, is often credited as a pioneer—if not the creator of—streetwear, which today is nearly ubiquitous, uniting economic and social classes with a blend of high fashion and everyday-inspired clothing. Through collaborations with artists, designers and performers, such as Juan Downey, Dan Friedman, Keith Haring, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, Les Levine, Dianne McIntyre, and Nam June Paik, Smith captured the creativity and spirit of the cities where culture was being formed. It is this marrying of the avant-garde and the world-at-large that brought together Smith with James Wines and Alison Sky of the art and architecture collaborative Sculpture in the Environment (SITE) built a series of showrooms that served as the backdrop for the gesamtkunstwerk of WilliWear. After seeing a window display at the Rizzoli bookstore designed by SITE, Willi enlisted the group to design a series of showrooms from 1982 to 1987, using found objects from around the streets of Manhattan. As members of the Environmental Art movement, SITE specialized in bringing art into places where you would least expect it, and retail stores were one of their specialties, most famously the BEST department stores. The exhibition, curated by Alexandra Cunningham was designed by Wines along with Sam Chermayeff Architects, who built a modified version of the original stores. The communication designers poly-mode have also contributed a very clear and fresh graphic solution to the display. The show was originally scheduled to be on until Sunday, October 25 2020, but the situation remains fluid. Note: Effective March 14, the Cooper Hewitt is temporarily closed to support the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Posts tagged with "Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum":
Caroline Baumann, director of the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, resigned from her post last week after internal controversy arose over her 2018 wedding. According to The New York Times, an investigation conducted by the Smithsonian’s inspector general dove into the amount of money Baumann paid for a custom-made wedding dress, as well as the procurement of her East Hampton, New York, wedding venue—both acquired through potential conflicts of interest in the eyes of the design museum’s governing body. Some background: All museums under the Smithsonian umbrella are partially funded by the United States government and, like all government jobs, its employee code of conduct states that “employees shall not solicit or accept any gift from any source that is, or appears to be, offered because the employee holds a Smithsonian position or may have influence within the Smithsonian.” The probe into Baumann’s wedding began after an anonymous staff complaint was filed over concerns on two aspects of Baumann’s nuptials. In September 2018, Baumann married branding consultant John Stewart Malcolmson in a $750 silver wedding dress which investigating agents believed, according to NYT, to be a heavily-discounted price that she negotiated using her status as head of Cooper Hewitt. According to Brooklyn-based designer Samantha Sleeper who made the piece, she did not give Baumann a discount nor did Baumann request a discount, even though her dresses start at a rate of $3,000. Sleeper denied the claim that Baumann used her status to procure the gown and insisted the low-dollar amount was standard for the cocktail-style dress which she had purchased. The other issue the agents looked into involved where Baumann and Malcolmson held their wedding; a 16-acre sculpture garden on Long Island founded by textile designer Jack Lenor Larsen. The property, LongHouse Reserve, won a Cooper Hewitt Award in 2015. Per multiple sources, Larsen and Baumann are good friends and he offered up the site for her to use free of charge. NYT noted that Larsen’s nonprofit of the same name has freely used Cooper Hewitt conference rooms for board meetings, an exchange that also drummed up concern within the Smithsonian.
Baumann reportedly stepped back from her directorial role over the claims, despite opposition from the museum’s board of trustees. In the aftermath, six of its 27 members resigned over the weekend from their posts, including architect David Rockwell. NYT reported that artist Judy Francis Zankel, the board secretary, wrote in her resignation letter that the way Baumann was treated “violates every principle of decency.” “I feel that remaining on the board tacitly condones this behavior,” she continued. Zankel went on to question whether there was a “touch of misogyny” in Baumann’s forced ousting. “Can you imagine all this brouhaha about a dress and a wedding directed toward a man in the same position?” The specifics of these accusations are especially confusing given Baumann’s success within the institution since she started working there in 2001. After being appointed director in 2013, Baumann supervised the museum’s rebranding by Pentagram and oversaw the $91 million renovation of its Carnegie Mansion home by Gluckman Mayner Architects and Beyer Blinder Belle. Diller Scofidio + Renfro completed its internal exhibition design in 2014 and the following year, the museum’s Arthur Ross Terrace and Garden reopened to the public. The massive project resulted in widespread praise for the 123-year-old institution. Over email, the museum confirmed Baumann’s departure and announced Dr. John Davis, Smithsonian Provost, as Cooper Hewitt’s interim director: “Baumann has been a passionate voice for design, and much was accomplished during her tenure."
The dress designer who allegedly undercharged Caroline Baumann said the investigators seemed biased:"...one of the agents told Ms. Sleeper that he had heard that Ms. Baumann was 'a Devil Wears Prada type' and that she 'was a bitch.'" https://t.co/TF7vKGHHjg — Karrie Jacobs (@KarrieUrbanist) February 14, 2020
Could the solution to more sustainable buildings be what’s planted in and around them? Researchers at MIT have discovered a way to turn plants into sources of light and are imagining a new conception of architecture that would integrate them into everyday spaces as a more sustainable alternative to electric lighting. In 2017 MIT chemical engineer Michael Strano devised a method to make plants glow without genetic modification. Plants are submerged in a solution filled with nanoparticles that have been enriched with an enzyme called luciferase, which is what allows creatures like fireflies to give off light. High pressure is added to push the nanoparticles through the pores of leaves. While the techniques have grown in efficiency over the past two years, researchers are currently working to devise nano-capacitors that will store light and allow it to give off illumination over time, as well as adapting the technology for larger plants such as trees. Strano partnered up with MIT professor and Kennedy & Violich Architecture partner Sheila Kennedy to imagine how the technology could shape the built future. Rather than treating the light-up plants as “just another light bulb,” the team wanted to think critically about how plants fit into architecture more broadly. Modern thinking on architecture, Kennedy explained to the MIT Architecture blog, has largely hidden away or hyper-managed everything from sunlight to waste composting. In an architecture that puts people face-to-face with their environment by integrating organic systems, people would have to confront the environment and their impact on it. These glowing plants are a non-toxic, non-fossil fueled lighting system that doesn’t rely on massive infrastructure. “People don’t question the impacts of our own mainstream electrical grid today. It’s very vulnerable, it’s very brittle, it’s so very wasteful and it’s also full of toxic material,” she told the MIT blog. “We don’t question this, but we need to.” Kennedy went on to say that lighting accounts for as much as 20 percent of global energy consumption. This then becomes an architectural problem, as infrastructure has to be designed to accommodate lighting as part of an “internal ecosystem.” New Yorkers can see a version of the project at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum where Strano and Kennedy have devised an installation that imagines a New York tenement built around a light-up plant as part of the Design Triennial.
Manhattan's Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum is hosting an exhibit on Willi Smith, the first solo show for the late fashion designer who was best known for his distinctive 1980s streetwear looks. Willi Smith: Street Couture, borrows its title from Smith's best-known collection, where he brought music and multimedia art together to enhance the presentation of the garments he debuted in 1983. That collection, part of the WilliWear line he started with Laurie Mallet in 1976, was sold through a showroom designed by artist and architect James Wines. Wines founded SITE, the firm that famously kitted out the BEST Products stores with form-breaking facades that defied the typical big-box typology.This time around, Wines is designed the exhibition, along with the Ingelwood, California–based poly-mode, a communication design studio. The exhibition will feature photos of the store, along with dozens of other outfits, patterns, and artwork by Smith and peer-collaborators: dancer-choreographer Dianne McIntyre, video artist Juan Downey, and Keith Haring, known for his bold line murals. This is the first time in 30 years that much of Smith's oeuvre has been shown to the public. “Willi Smith cared about ‘style over status,’” said Alexandra Cunningham Cameron, curator of contemporary design and Hintz Secretarial Scholar at Cooper Hewitt, in a prepared statement. “Clothing was simply a tool for him to disseminate ideas about personal freedoms beyond class, beyond gender, beyond race, while still having fun. He shows us that true collaboration, and the inclusivity it requires, is not a marketing gimmick or token gesture, but a way of thinking, of making and of life.” Along with Cunningham Cameron, curatorial assistants Darnell-Jamal Lisby and Julie Pastor organized the exhibition. Smith, who was born in Philadelphia but worked in New York City, died of complications from AIDS in 1987. He was 39. Programming for Street Couture, which opens in March of next year, will include a talk series around race and fashion organized with another Smithsonian institution, the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington, D.C. Willi Smith: Street Couture opens March 13, 2020, and will run through October 25. More details on the exhibition can be found on the Cooper Hewitt website.
The Garment District store, above and at the top, was the opposite of a polished Manhattan showroom—it resembles the utility room in a big building styled in monochrome grey. The pipes, chain link fencing, hydrants, construction and demolition waste, and manhole covers doubled as clothing racks and lent the space a grittiness which matched Smith's oversized, softly exuberant collection meant for everyday people. The showroom office, meanwhile, took a cue from SITE's deconstructed buildings via a glass-topped work surface supported by white bricks, broken and scattered at the far corner. Piles of bricks on a dolly added a decorative touch.
The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum has announced its 2019 National Design Awards winners, choosing to honor 11 designers and studios who are using design to improve the world for the better. The program was launched in 2000 by the White House Millennium Council and has celebrated a wide variety of architects, designers, and advocates ever since. This year’s winners are as follows: Lifetime Achievement: The San Francisco-based graphic designer Susan Kare was recognized for her decades of contributions to modern icon design. Kare, the creative director of Pinterest since 2015, is responsible for many of the original Mac’s classic icons and typefaces. Susan Kare Design has worked for brands such as Facebook, IBM, Microsoft, and other titans for the last 25 years. Architecture Design: Fresh off the completion of the Glenstone Museum in Potomac, Maryland, last year, Thomas Phifer was recognized as the 2019 Architecture Design award winner. Phifer, currently the William Henry Bishop Visiting Professor of Architectural Design at the Yale School of Architecture, is the founder of Thomas Phifer and Partners. Interior Design: San Francisco’s IwamotoScott Architecture took home this year’s Interior Design award, as the Cooper Hewitt cited the firm’s willingness to integrate conceptual research into its realized projects. Landscape Architecture: SCAPE Landscape Architecture was recognized for its numerous projects (and master plans, and research) that combine landscape architecture with living ecology. SCAPE works across all scales but its use of regenerative landscapes and public outreach is deeply embedded in the firm's process no matter the size of the project. Design Mind: Patricia Moore, author, designer, and expert on how peoples’ tastes and preferences change as they age, was honored with the Design Mind award. The Cooper Hewitt singled out Moore’s travels across North America from 1979 to 1982, wherein she disguised herself as an older woman to understand the challenges associated with living as an elderly member of society. Corporate & Institutional Achievement: The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s D-Lab seeks to bring design and engineering thinking to the problems faced by those living in poverty. Founded in 2002, the lab now runs 20 interdisciplinary courses leading projects run by, and for, people living in poverty. Communication Design: Typeface designer Tobias Frere-Jones was recognized this year for his innumerable font contributions that are used every day, including “Interstate, Poynter Oldstyle, Whitney, Gotham, Surveyor, Tungsten, and Retina,” according to the Cooper Hewitt. Fashion Design: American fashion designer and founder of an eponymous fashion house Derek Lam was recognized for his relaxed, yet refined, take on sportswear. Lam’s work has been shown all over the world, including at the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Museum at FIT. Interaction Design: Ivan Poupyrev has worn many hats over his storied career and has always brought a multidisciplinary approach to interaction design. This year, Poupyrev was recognized for his work in blending digital and tactile interfaces and advancing more equitable interaction solutions. Poupyrev is currently the director of engineering at Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group. Product Design: The Portland-based Tinker Hatfield was recognized for his four decades of contributions to Nike, during which he worked on the iconic Air Jordan sneakers, among numerous other celebrity collaborations. Hatfield is currently the vice president of creative concepts at the company, and continues to push for, and develop, boundary-pushing athletic shoes. Emerging Designer: The nonprofit Open Style Lab, a studio launched in 2014 as a public service project at MIT, took home this year’s Emerging Designer award and a cash prize intended to accelerate its development. The New York–based Lab is dedicated to designing wearables for everyone, regardless of disability, and its portfolio includes wearable technology, accessories, and novel textile research and applications. It appears that the Cooper Hewitt has increased the stringency of its awards eligibility requirements this year; individual nominees must have at least ten years of experience under their belt, up from seven last year, and Lifetime Achievement nominees now require at least 25 years of experience, up from last year’s 20. To be eligible for the Emerging Designer category, nominees must possess less than eight years of professional experience.
The Cooper Hewitt’s sixth Design Triennial will look at ways to radically redress the climate crisis. The Manhattan museum has enlisted designers, scientists, environmentalists, and local stakeholders to present over 60 works that tackle how humans can fix their climate mistakes and harmonize with nature. Nature—Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial, co-organized by the Cooper Hewitt and Cube design museum in Kerkrade, Netherlands, will put large-scale sculptures, virtual reality installations, extinct scents, and more on display from May 10 through January 20, 2020. “With 2018 the Earth’s fourth-warmest year on record and global carbon emissions at an all-time high, the crisis of human-caused climate change has never been more dire,” said Cooper Hewitt director Caroline Baumann. “Solutions will not emerge without radical new thinking and alliances. Nature brings together some of the most creative and intelligent designers whose works address our complex relationship to nature and its precious resources and advocate for greater empathy for our planet.” Nature is organized in seven categories for understanding how designers can work with, and around, the natural world to benefit both the environment and humanity. "Understand" celebrates the fusion of scientific knowledge with design, and the pursuit of understanding the natural world. In Curiosity Cloud, courtesy of the Vienna-based design studio Mischer’Traxler, patrons can walk through a cloud of light bulbs, each containing a handcrafted model of an insect native to New York City. The models will flutter to life in response to movement. "Simulate" focuses on biomimicry, the borrowing of techniques and structures from nature in architecture and design. In Resurrecting the Sublime, museum-goers can sniff long-extinct flowers, their scents recreated Jurrasic Park–style from DNA extracted from specimens at the Harvard University Herbaria. "Salvage" is less about nature itself and more about how humans can reclaim their waste, making new goods and products from our mountains of garbage. In Shahar Livne’s Metamorphism, the conceptual material designer imagines a future in which ocean-faring plastic is collected and recycled back into a useable product. Livne will also present “Lithoplast," a composite material made from discarded plastics that form the basis of this conceptual economy. In "Facilitate," designers worked with and around the forces of nature and growth. Xu Tiantian, of the Beijing-based DnA_Design and Architecture, will present Bamboo Theater. The theater, set in a remote, rural Chinese village, bends live bamboo to form an outdoor theater and invites villagers to tend to the piece of living infrastructure. "Augment" references nature’s ever-evolving, ever-advancing character, with projects that use science to push the boundaries of the natural world. MIT’s Neri Oxman and the Mediated Matter Group will present Aguahoja, a 3-D-printed pavilion built from a blend of plant cellulose and chitosan (a sugar extracted from invertebrate shells), in the museum’s Great Hall. Aguahoja represents the continued evolution of Oxman’s adaptations of natural materials and patterns with computational design and advanced fabrication. "Remediate" prompted designers and artists to think about how humanity can slow, stop, and even reverse the deleterious impacts of modern society. In Monarch Sanctuary, which comes courtesy of the New York-based Terreform ONE, a section of a monarch butterfly incubator-slash-facade will be on display. The Monarch butterfly population has been ravaged by climate change and habitat loss in recent years, and the full-scale variegated facade mockup will contain live butterflies that will periodically be released to fly around the exhibition space. Finally, "Nurture" asks viewers and designers to reinterpret humanity’s relationship with nature, and to reach a place of respect instead of dismissal. In The Substitute, Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg will confine an artificially intelligent digital recreation of the extinct northern white rhino to one of the museum’s hallways, where it will gradually refine its movement over time to become more lifelike. Ginsberg’s work questions the role that science plays in preservation—researchers are currently working to revive the white rhno through preserved cell cultures and genetic manipulation—at a time when science increasingly usurps the primacy of social awareness in preservation. Nature’s installations won’t be confined to the floors of the Cooper Hewitt; two large-scale, site-specific installations are coming to the Arthur Ross Terrace and Garden. Sam Van Aken’s Tree of 40 Fruit, which grafts 40 different types of stone fruit branches to one monster hybrid tree, will join Ensamble Studio’s 40-foot-long Petrified River, a concrete river that “flows” from a mountain peak and into a flattened, urbanized landscape. To commemorate the triennial, the Cooper Hewitt will also be releasing a 240-page book of essays, renderings, and deep dives into the science behind each installation. Nature: Collaborations in Design: Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial will be available for purchase on May 21.
In The Road Ahead: Reimagining Mobility the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, presents a variety of concepts from around the world that ask the question: how will we move in the future? With concepts from firms like Höweler + Yoon, design studios like IDEO, and companies like Waymo, the exhibition suggests a range of possible futures instead of painting a holistic vision. Making the case that transportation options are multiplying as data and technology take to the roads (and tunnels, and skies), the show's organizers present a world on the cusp of transit change, change that could make cities not only more efficient but also a happier place for all their inhabitants. Hopefully. It's certainly a buzzy topic, given Elon Musk's constant parade of revelations and updates on his many ventures and self-driving cars taking to the street (at their own peril). Visitors to the show, up now through March 31, have just one obstacle in their way: the government shutdown. As part of the Smithson Institution, the museum is at the mercy of the federal government, which does not show any sign of ending its shutdown soon.
The United States is returning to the London Design Biennale, and the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum will once again represent the U.S. in 2018. In Face Values, the Cooper Hewitt will bring an interactive installation about facial recognition technology to London and will confront participants with the knowledge that their faces have become commodified data. The London Design Biennale 2018 will run from September 4 through 23 at Somerset House in central London. This is the design festival’s second year, and exhibitors from all over the world have been invited to explore this year’s theme of “Emotional States." Thirty-six countries contributed to the 2016 Biennale with pieces that scrutinized or subverted the idea of “Utopia by Design.” In 2016 the Cooper Hewitt projected 100 digitized wallpapers from the museum’s archives in The Immersion Room, converting what was once a physical skin into easily changeable digital versions. For Face Values, curator Ellen Lupton has taken a similar approach to a different topic: the conversion of a physical signifier into easily transmissible code. Face Values will feature original work from designers Zachary Lieberman and R. Luke DuBois inside a pavilion designed by Matter Architecture Practice. Visitors will be able to use their faces to control the installations and learn how corporations and governments are able to track, catalog, and monetize facial data and emotions. Both installations will create collages of visitors’ faces and mash up their facial features. Lieberman’s work will mix the features of visitors together to create new faces, while DuBois’s piece will walk participants through a range of emotions and create a portrait that averages all of the features together. A monitor will also display how each emotion is cataloged in the face tracking system. Matter Architecture Practice has designed a backdrop of intentionally synthetic-looking reeds for the installation that’s supposed to blur the lines between the natural world and the digital. “In representing the United States at the London Design Biennale, Cooper Hewitt will be furthering the Smithsonian’s goal of catalyzing new conversations around issues of global importance,” writes Caroline Baumann, director of Cooper Hewitt. “While underscoring design’s purpose to address complex challenges and advance empowering solutions. Illuminating the potential of facial recognition technology to quantify, read and control our moods and movements, Face Values encourages participants to consider the vast capabilities and unforeseen consequences of this rapidly evolving field of digital design.” After the Biennale's opening on September 4, Face Values was awarded the London Design Biennale 2018 Emotional States Medal for "most inspiring interpretation of the 2018 theme." The jury panel was composed of 14 well-known designers, architects, educators, and artists from around the world.
Explosions of summer color are coming to New York City as San Francisco’s sold-out Color Factory pop-up installation is set to brighten Manhattan's streets starting on August 20. A 20,000-square-foot interactive exhibition from artist collaborative Color Factory will open in SoHo and will be accompanied by 20 “secret” color installations hidden across Lower Manhattan. The original Color Factory installation opened last August in San Francisco for a four-week run that eventually expanded to last nearly eight months. That show brought together a star-studded roster of local and international artists to create an exploration of color that went viral on Instagram, and Color Factory is looking to replicate that success in New York. Instagram-friendly installations and pavilions have exploded in recent years, and lauded firms from AGENCY to Snarkitecture have all jumped on the bandwagon, delivering selfie walls and all-white takes on the form. Let's not forget pop-ups like the Museum of Ice Cream, either, soon to be joined by its long-lost cousin the Museum of Pizza. The California version of Color Factory involved multiple explorations of color in light works, several monochrome rooms (currently all the rage), rainbow decals, fabric, balloons, and technicolor plastic furniture. The New York version seems like it will keep to the same vein; visitors will be able to experience 16 rooms, including a bar filled with mocha in every color of the rainbow, a light-up dance floor, a room full of ombré balloons, a room where participants can walk through a guided experience to discover their own “personal color," an enormous full-room ball pit, and custom illustrations from New York artists. After guests are finished at the exhibition, they can pick up a map to the 20 “secret experiences” Color Factory has hidden across the island, and the group says that the installation will be inspired by the colors of New York. Manhattan Color Walk from Color Factory on Vimeo. Color Factory is no stranger to New York’s streets. Manhattan Color Walk, a survey of colors from 265 individual Manhattan blocks, recently wrapped up at the Cooper Hewitt. The free installation was on display through June and adorned the museum’s terrace, garden, and walkways with colored bands pulled from New York’s most unique and ubiquitous colors. Color Factory staff walked and biked from West 220th Street all the way down to Battery Park and translated one color per block into a stripe at the museum and released an accompanying guide. General admission tickets for Color Factory are now on sale for $38, and the exhibition will be open at 251 Spring Street after August 20 from Thursday to Tuesday, 10:00 AM through 11:00 PM.
This summer, New York City is launching a new program to explore the city and save money. If you are a Brooklyn, New York, or Queens Public Library Cardholder aged 13 or older, you can reserve a Culture Pass to gain free access to more than 30 cultural institutions, including “museums, historical societies, heritage centers, public gardens and more.” Reservations should be made ahead of time, and a limited number of passes are available on each date. Here is a list of participating organizations: Brooklyn: Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Brooklyn Historical Society, Brooklyn Museum, New York Transit Museum Manhattan: Children’s Museum of the Arts, Children’s Museum of Manhattan, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, The Drawing Center, The Frick Collection, Historic Richmond Town, International Center of Photography, Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, The Jewish Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Morgan Library & Museum, Museum of the City of New York, Museum of Chinese in America, Museum of Jewish Heritage—A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, Museum of Modern Art, Rubin Museum of Art, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, Society of Illustrators, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art and Storytelling, Whitney Museum of American Art Bronx: Wave Hill Queens: Louis Armstrong House, Noguchi Museum, Queens Historical Society, Queens Museum, SculptureCenter Staten Island: Historic Richmond Town, Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art Check out this link for more details.
The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum has announced the winners of the 2018 National Design Awards, recognizing ten individuals and firms who have used design to shape the world for the better. This year’s winners include: Lifetime Achievement: Writer, educator, and designer Gail Anderson has taught at the School of Visual Arts in New York for the last 25 years, and is an active partner at the multidisciplinary Anderson Newton Design. Anderson has written or co-authored a total of 14 books on popular culture and design, and formerly served as the senior art director at Rolling Stone. Design Mind: Landscape architect, award-winning author, and Professor of Landscape Architecture and Planning at MIT Anne Whiston Spirn. Spirn was recognized for her longtime advocacy for balancing urbanism with nature, as well as her continued direction of the West Philadelphia Landscape Project. Corporate & Institutional Achievement: Design studio Design for America, which empowers communities to solve local problems through design. Architecture Design: WEISS/MANFREDI was recognized for the way their projects consistently bridge the gap between architecture, art, and the surrounding landscape. The firm’s been on a roll lately, having picked up several cultural commissions and an invite to exhibit at this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale. Communication Design: Digital identity and experience firm Civilization was recognized for its ability to create empathetic connections and commitment to working with companies who are advocating for the greater good. Fashion Design: The Los Angeles-based fashion designer Christina Kim was recognized for her use of traditional hand working techniques and sustainable business practices. Interaction Design: Architect and designer Neri Oxman was recognized for her experimental material usage and continual boundary-pushing forms. Oxman leads the Mediated Matter Group at the MIT Media Lab, a group whose work frequently bridges the gap between art and technology; their most recent project, Vespers, is a contemporary reinterpretation of the death mask typology that uses living microorganisms. Interior Design: The Miami-based Oppenheim Architecture + Design was recognized for its sense-invoking interiors that are often inspired by local vernacular. The firm has realized projects all over the world from towers in Dubai to the Williamsburg Hotel in Brooklyn, but like many of the other winners, Oppenheim balances their projects within the surrounding natural environment. Landscape Architecture: Boston-based landscape architecture firm Mikyoung Kim Design was honored for its vast body of public work, much of it focused on improving urban resiliency. The firm has tackled projects large and small around the world, from the Chicago Botanic Garden Learning Campus to the Songdo International Plaza in Incheon, South Korea. Product Design: Minneapolis-based Furniture designer and manufacturer Blu Dot was recognized for its playful and modern stylings (including some less-than-functional objects). The National Design Awards have been recognizing exemplary names in the design world since 2000. Nominees must have seven years of professional experience under their belt, while the lifetime achievement nominees must have at least 20 years of experience. Caroline Baumann, director of Cooper Hewitt, will announce the winner of the Director’s Award at a later date, to be given to an outstanding patron of the design world. This year’s awards ceremony will be accompanied by National Design Week, which will run from October 13 through the 21st.
The Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum hosted its annual National Design Awards last week, handing out hardware to an illustrious group that included Mass Design Group, Deborah Berke Partners, Surfacedesign, and Susan Szenasy. But if you couldn't make it to the invitation-only event, you can stop by the museum to check out one of the city's most interesting design exhibitions: Joris Laarman Lab: Design in the Digital Age. The first major U.S. exhibition on the Dutch designer, the show explores Laarman and his team's naturally and industrially-inspired, digitally-manufactured products, like the Bone Chair, generated from algorithms that mimic bone growth, and a pedestrian bridge built in midair using 3-D printing. The Adaptation Chair, created from welded strands of coated polymer, draws on the complex patterns of growing branches and roots, changing its geometry to adapt to different needs throughout. Throughout the Cooper Hewitt's galleries you'll encounter tables, chairs, lights and other pieces made of wood, metal, fabric, vinyl and plastic that have been knitted, stacked, puzzled, electroformed, cut, welded, folded, lathed and extruded, all using computer-powered fabrication techniques. Laarman is obsessed with the transition of the industrial world to our digital one. This work perfectly bridges the two. The show is on view through January 15. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13o_qSatv3s]