Posts tagged with "Zoe Ryan":

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The Art Institute of Chicago plans a permanent gallery for its rarely seen Architecture and Design Collection

Zoë Ryan is the John H. Bryan chair and curator of Architecture and Design at the Art Institute of Chicago. Few have likely spent as much time thinking about how architecture and design should be shown in museums as Ryan. In fact, she is writing a book about it. Along with working on that book, Ryan is also in the process of launching a new gallery at the Art Institute, to showcase the museum’s vast Architecture and Design Collection. Outside of the Architectural Fragments gallery, permanently on display in the museum’s Grand Staircase, much of this collection has never been seen by the public. 

Currently, Ryan, associate curator Alison Fisher, and assistant curator Karen Kice are surveying and documenting the entire catalogue in order to better understand the museum’s holdings. That information will help the team position the work and fill any gaps in the collection, which is rich with pieces by architecture and design’s most vaunted names, balanced with work by many lesser-known figures. Rather than create a purely chronological or historical display, Ryan is interested in rethinking established architecture and design narratives. The new gallery will be spaces of exhibition experimentation, with pieces and shows periodically rotating. Work will be shown in such a way to draw new connections between figures, movements, and times.

“The collection gallery will be a testing ground for rethinking how we display architecture and design,” Ryan said. “We will continually rethink, refresh, and redo the exhibition rotations to forge new connections, emphasize a range of narratives, and continually question what the history of architecture and design means today, in our time of rapid social, cultural, and political change.”

Ryan’s forthcoming book focuses on 11 historical architecture and design exhibitions and the impact they had on their fields. The first phase of research for the book is on show in the Art Institute’s current exhibition, which shares a name with the forthcoming book—As Seen: Exhibitions That Made Architecture and Design History. Ryan will draw from this research to present the museum’s collection.

“The As Seen book is an opportunity to reinforce the important role that exhibitions have in contributing to cultural discourse. Exhibitions have played a critical role in positioning ideas, marking pivotal moments in time, and documenting the environment in which new narratives or arguments unfold,” said Ryan. The release of As Seen: Exhibitions That Made Architecture and Design History is planned to coincide with the opening of the new gallery.

One of the major challenges of showing architecture and design in museums is making the work accessible to the public. Though renderings and models can often be understood by laypeople, technical drawings and sketches often require more explanation. The museum has five galleries dedicated to Architecture and Design exhibitions. Currently, they only show pieces from the museum’s collection in conjunction with temporary shows. The collection gallery will be created by converting one of those current 5,000-square-foot galleries. “Our goal is to make clear the important role that architecture and design play in our everyday lives,” Ryan added. Ryan and her team plan to position architecture and design in a greater cultural conversation. To do so, the gallery will draw links between architecture, design, and the greater collection of the entire museum.

Despite Chicago’s many architecture and design institutions, this new gallery, backed by the curators’ critical vision and the Art Institute’s unmatched collection, will be unique in its breadth and scope. Undoubtedly the new gallery will add to the ever spirited conversation surrounding architecture in Chicago. With new access to primary source information, perhaps many of the debates about the city’s architectural history can be settled, while a whole new set of questions can be raised.

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Zoë Ryan to Curate 2014 Istanbul Design Biennial

Zoe_Ryan_01 Zoë Ryan, curator of architecture and design at the Art Institute of Chicago, has been selected to curate the second Istanbul Design Biennial, taking place from October 18 through December 14, 2014. Read AN's report from the previous Istanbul Design Biennial here. Ryan has been working to expand the Art Institute's architecture and design holdings and teaches at the School of the Art Institute and at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Previously, she worked at New York's Van Alen Institute and the Museum of Modern Art. (Photo: Courtesy Art Institute of Chicago)
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Cooper-Hewitt Announces 14th Annual National Design Awards Winners

Acting director Caroline Baumann of The Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum has announced the winners of the 2013 National Design Awards. The 14th annual Awards program continues the practice of acknowledging excellence and innovation across an array of disciplines. This year’s winners will be recognized during a gala dinner on Thursday, October 17 at New York’s Pier 60 in conjunction with National Design Week, where they will be presented with trophies created by The Corning Museum of Glass. This year’s Lifetime Achievement award recipient is James Wines, founder and president of New York-based architectural studio SITE, who addresses context and environmental issues in his designs. Another big winner is Michael Sorkin, who claims the Design Mind prize for his work in urbanism and green architecture. TED—the nonprofit organization devoted to "Ideas Worth Spreading"—has been selected for the Corporate and Institutional Achievement prize. For its site-specific projects that act as responses to contemporary issues, Studio Gang Architects-principal Jeanne Gang wins the Architecture Design award. Petragram principal Paula Scher takes the stage as the Communication Design award recipient. Bloomberg, Citibank, and MoMA are just a few on her impressive list of clients. Fashion Design winner Behnaz Sarafpour implements organically produced pieces in her high-fashion and affordably-priced collection. Media design firm Local Project is the Interaction Design award recipient and the Interior Design award goes to Aidlin Darling Design. Margie Ruddick, who employs an environmental approach to urban landscape design, is the Landscape Architecture category winner. The Product Design award recipient  is NewDealDesign, a San Francisco-based multidisciplinary firm. This year's jury includes Charles Adler, Gail Anderson, Gisue Hariri, Jon Kolko, Thom Mayne, Zoë Ryan, Christine Ten Eyck, Isabel and Ruben Toledo, and Gianfranco Zaccai. The 2013 winners "have made a major impact in their respective fields through groundbreaking projects and visionary ideas," Baumann said in a statement. "They have truly transformed the way we live, think, work, and communicate with each other."

Rahm’s Security Loves Art, Passes On Booze

It’s been (another) terrible year for Jeanne Gang! From being awarded the MacArthur Genius Grant to starring in the just opened solo exhibition, Building: Inside Studio Gang Architects, at the Art Institute, there appears to be no slowdown in Studio Gang momentum. Of course, Eavesdrop stopped by the opening and we have a few things to say. The first has little to do with Jeanne and more with the Art Institute. Their openings are always so snoozy! Get more of the students and younger folks in there, in addition to your stodgy museum patrons! We probably wouldn’t have stuck around long, accept a little bird told us that Mayor Rahm Emanuel would be making an appearance and we wanted to see how short he is in real life. Zoë Ryan, the museum’s chair of the department of architecture and design, looked nervous awaiting Rahm’s arrival, while Jeanne looked quite at ease, milling about in a really cute dress. One of the hottest architects in the world is certainly in the same power echelon as the mayor of the Second City.
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Eavesdrop> The Gang Gang

In news that will surprise no one, Studio Gang is getting the star treatment by the Art Institute with a monographic show planned for fall 2013. Eavesdrop is certainly not immune to Jeanne Gang’s charms, nor do we dispute her talent, but her work is exhaustively covered in these pages and every other design publication as well as prestige glossies like The New Yorker. Last year, Studio Gang released a monograph of their work, as well as a book-length design proposal for the Chicago River. The firm’s contribution to MoMA’s Foreclosed exhibition just opened. Zoe Ryan and her team at the AIC, then, have given themselves a difficult task: how to show or say something new about the MacArthur-anointed genius architect. And next time, AIC, shine the spotlight on someone a bit less exposed!
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Spotlight> EXD’11 Lisbon Design Biennale Opening Week

EXD’11 Lisbon Design Biennale Opening Week September 28–October 2 “Useless,” the theme of Lisbon’s the sixth design biennale organized by Experimentadesign, grew out of a desire to explore what the term “useful” means today. A number a guest-curated exhibitions form the backbone of the event: for Sidelines, design historian Emily King considers the motivations behind collecting art and objects, deploying Lisbon’s museums to display an eclectic series of private collections; in Utilitas Interrupta, Joseph Grima, editor of Domus, asks what abandoned infrastructure and its implements (above) say about our society. These shows run through November, but opening week highlights also include a series of lectures by design scene fixtures like Hans Ulrich Obrist and Zoe Ryan, as well as a specially organized film series.
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Eavesdrop MW 02

DANCING WITH STARCHITECTS Eavesdrop got all flustered when the Chicago Dancing Festival, an annual event celebrating American dance, announced the theme for its August 27 event: “The Dancing Skyline.” Could this be like Dancing with the Stars or a Pilobolus-like pile of dancers recreating buildings from Chicago’s iconic skyline? Probably neither, as the festival’s website simply describes it as “a lecture and demonstration focused on themes of architecture and dance.” Still, we would have paid good money to see Jeanne Gang paired with the likes of Jay Franke of the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company prancing off against Helmut Jahn and Fabrice Calmels of the Joffrey Ballet. A gossip columnist can dream! CURATOR SHUFFLE Ever since AN broke the news that Joseph Rosa is leaving the Art Institute’s architecture and design department to direct the University of Michigan Art Museum, speculation has abounded about who will replace him. The AIC says design curator Zoe Ryan is in the running, but Eavesdrop guesses she’s pretty happy building the museum’s new design collection. Others have pointed to Brooke Hodge, previously of LA MOCA, but might her interests overlap too much with Ryan’s? Oh, and another Ryan, first name Raymund, the architecture curator at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, could well be in the running. Then there’s John Zukowsky, the former AIC curator, who is conveniently back in town. Seems unlikely. What about Elizabeth Smith, the former chief curator at the MCA? She’s had a longstanding interest in architecture and wrote a wonderful and much lusted after book on the Case Study Houses. Eavesdrop hears that Trustee John H. Bryan, who endowed the chair, holds the key to the kingdom. Send season tickets, croquet wickets, and rusty spigots to
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The Makers of the Design Canon

You probably would not expect to find the ubiquitous "@" symbol in the same category as the Olivetti portable typewriter, the Saarinen tulip chair, or the Pininfarina Cisitalia 202 GT car. But on Saturday at the Art Institute of Chicago (AIC), Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator, Department of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, persuasively argued for its inclusion in MoMA’s famed design collection alongside the items described above. Within the very small world of museum architecture and design curators the AIC’s symposium, “Modern Construction: Creating Architecture and Design Collection” assembled a blue-chip group to discuss acquisition methodologies, philosophies, and approaches. In addition to Antonelli, speakers included Ingeborg de Roode, Curator of Industrial Design, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Frederic Migayrou, Deputy Director, Musee National d’Art Moderne, Centre de Creation Industrielle, Centre Georges Pompidou; and Mirko Zardini, Director, Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal. AIC’s Joseph Rosa, John H. Bryan Curatorial Chair of Architecture and Design, and Zoe Ryan, its Neville Bryan Curator of Design, completed the roster. Each offered a history and overview of his or her collection, collecting principles and acquisition strategies. Any discussion of architecture in the museum arena has to start from the central idea that a museum can’t really “collect” architecture. As Rosa explained in his introductory remarks, museum architecture departments have traditionally acquired drawings, models, photographs and fragments relating to buildings. But that’s changing. Over the course of his career, Migayrou has built two large architecture collections, practically from scratch: first for the FRAC Orleans, and later for the Pompidou, and seems to have had a swell time doing so. He breathlessly ripped through scores of images of items he had acquired at both institutions, which validated his belief in niche collecting. By originally focusing on unbuilt projects of the post WWII era, he said he was able to obtain a lot of material “that MoMA didn’t want,” including such gems as le Corbusier’s original collage limning the familiar Modulor graphic and the two most iconic illustrations from Koolhaas’ Delirious New York. Beyond acquiring items in traditional formats, curators of contemporary work are grappling with issues related to digitization. In the architecture and design areas, more so than with “fine art,” it’s probably a more significant concern, because so much of the production increasingly exists in digital format. For CCA, this has meant making much of its traditional holdings--drawings, plans, correspondence and other ephemera--available online. Zardini said it’s an important new kind of presence, a different framework for institutions, and one that brings its own set of issues: when you select which items to make digitally available, you’re editing, making a collection within your collection. Antonelli also stressed the importance of embracing new media and formats. “Digital capabilities could free curators from the constraints of physical collecting,” she predicted. But it’s not without its challenges. In one instance, she wanted to acquire an early iteration of an e-mail graphic interface, but wondered what, precisely, to acquire.  The original (probably broken-down) computer where the program was created? The actual programming code? A new machine with the old graphic interface? Video of designers revising the code for the new machine? All of the above? “Everything,” she said, “goes into the big minestrone of progress.” Unlike architecture, design collection is generally a lot more straightforward, since many design objects are small and portable, and available to purchase outside of the high end auction houses. This has helped Ryan acquire an impressive group of objects by contemporary designers, although, having just started to build AIC’s collection over the last three years,  she said, “our work has just begun.” Her comment touched on one subject area that went more or less unexplored: what it all costs. This was an odd omission in a symposium about acquiring things.  Although Migayrou revealed in his presentation that he had gotten several of his holdings “at a good price,”  it was just about the only time anybody addressed the issue of money. This attendee would have enjoyed hearing the curators talk about how private collectors are competing with museums for the best items, and how the general economic malaise has affected acquisition funding--thorny problems for everyone in the museum community.
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Konstantin Craving

Konstantin Grcic: Decisive Design currently on view in The Art Institute of Chicago’s new Modern wing marks the first stateside showcase of the Munich-born, London-trained designer. Curated by Zoe Ryan, the exhibition is the fifth installment of the museum’s A+D Series that previously featured Chicago architect Douglas Garofalo and graphic design firm Graphic Thought Facility. It’s also the first show with a subtitle. Although delightfully alliterative, “Decisive Design” is a misnomer. It sets up Grcic, a craftsman who studied at the Royal College of Art and came of age under the sly wit of designers Jasper Morrison and Ettore Sottsass, as an exacting decider. Sure, the 100 plus objects in the gallery reveal that Grcic is always searching logical production methods and that he takes an honest approach to materials, but the products themselves tell stories richer than pure functionalism. Take, for example, the Wanda dish drainer from 1997, which greets visitors near the gallery entrance. Circular and double stacked, Grcic’s wire rack is functional with a Dada riff. Ryan’s walltext and accompanying images compare the work to Marcel Duchamp’s Bottle Rack from 1914, a classic readymade intended to question the nature of art and the nature of the gallery. Here, placed in a design exhibition, the references are circular: everyday product to readymade, readymade to everyday product. That this deliberate feedback loop seems closer to Grcic’s vision than any functionalist credo is seen in the overall exhibition design. Products line the perimeter of the rectangular gallery, but for the most part they don’t hang on its very white walls. Instead, the bulk of Grcic’s output—process models, chairs, wastepaper baskets, cups and saucers, sketch reproductions, light fixtures, and inspirational photographs—sit humbly in a narrow trough or lean gently against the wall. The gallery’s center is features an oval inexplicably composed of stacked tires. (The press release credits the design to Grcic’s love of Formula 1 racing.) Inside the track-like ring, visitors can test drive Grcic chairs and benches. But the walls are reserved for larger than life photographs of Grcic’s office, Konstantin Grcic Industrial Design, founded in 1991. His workspace is emptied of employees, as if everyone simultaneously left for lunch. As windows into the designer’s process these images are compelling, but enigmatic. Are they meant to celebrate the kind of creative tableaux made famous by the Eameses or bond Grcic’s quotidian mess with the viewer’s daily life? Ryan and Grcic, who designed the exhibition, leave the questions open ended, preferring, it seems, to let the accumulation of products and images speak for themselves. One oversized photograph features the jumble of Grcic’s library, shelves overstuffed with titles and hung with poster from a 2002 Ed Rucha exhibition. “The Future is Stupid,” it reads, an ironic touch from a designer on the cutting edge of fabrication technologies. In fact, the iconic Chair ONE foregrounds the image. With its crystalline shape and die-cast aluminum construction, the chair represents Grcic’s ongoing experiments with digital modeling and testing. Just a few yards away, the tuffet-like Osorom bench is on display. Like Chair ONE, the 2002 bench was developed digital techniques. Moroso called on Grcic to create a design that could be fabricated at 1:5 scale using rapid-prototyping. Taken with his model, the company decided to fabricate the piece, ultimately fabricating it out of molded fiberglass. And again, the featured product is called into conversation with the photograph behind. A white version of the filigreed bench is tilted up against an image of a woman staring out from behind a black burka. The formal match between the eye openings in her garment and the solid-void perforations of Osorom is uncanny, but as with other behind-the-scenes moments in the show, the meaning is unclear. The clarity of Grcic’s singular vision is cluttered. Is it chance juxtaposition or decisive design? Konstantin Grcic: Decisive Design is on view in The Art Institute of Chicago through January 24, 2010.
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AIC Adds Architecture Curator

Another sign of the growing importance of the Art Institute of Chicago's Architecture and Design Department, the museum announced the appointment Alison Fisher as assistant curator. Fisher, who will focus on the department's historical collection, joins department chair Joe Rosa, and curator Zoe Ryan, who has been building the department's contemporary design collection. The department, which now boasts the country's largest architecture and design galleries, is working on a major exhibition on Bertrand Goldberg, among other shows. Fisher previously served as a curatorial fellow at the Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University and she is completing a doctorate in art history at Northwestern.