I’m a big fan of Roberta Smith, design and archi…

I’m a big fan of Roberta Smith, design and architecture writer for the New York Times. Roberta’s pieces are always thoughtful, and always thought provoking, but somehow her recent piece about the Design Triennial at the Cooper-Hewitt was, uncharacteristically, a bit off. We all have off days, and I love Roberta’s work just the same.

This past weekend, I visited the Triennial, and I thought it was a fabulous show, but very different from its preceding exhibitions. This time around, Inside Design Now was far more subtle; less commercial than in years past, and focused not so much on the product of design, but on the future-looking process of it. The subtle emphasis here was on materials, and not on material culture. For example, future forward technologies like fiber optics and LEDs were emphasized, as were lightweight building materials and virtual reality, but more familiar and day-to-day applications of these materials (i.e., the products that employ such materials) were not on display.

The exhibition was architecture-heavy, and graphics light (and I have to say… the didactic graphics for the show were poor — titles and designer names in particular were displayed in a combination of upper case typefaces, which made for nearly painful reading in the dim Carnegie mansion), but nonetheless, the exhibition worked to highlight the interdisciplinarity and overlap of the design disciplines, in a way that the past triennials did not. Overall, and despite the criticisms, it met the goal admirably.

The exhibition, as always is accompanied by a very high quality website, as well as a fine publication.

Some highlights:

Joshua Davis’ exquisite organic graphics.

Jason Miller’s thoughtful and creative furniture.

Deborah Adler’s Target prescription bottle with Milton Glaser’s icons, and an assist from Klaus Rosburg.

Everyone who knows me knows I’m a solid Airbus fan, however, the 787 might just persuade me otherwise. Boeing.

Ransmeier & Floyd Gradient Sink Rack.

It’s a matter of time before I have one… Lazor Flat Pak House

SHoP Camera Obscura. Fascinating, and exquisite.

One of my favorites, the work of Chip Kidd was prominently featured. Check Chip Click.

Another of my favorites, Toshiko Mori. The design for the Syracuse Center of Excellence is simple, and forward thinking without being ostentatious.

Used by my favorite architect Rem Koolhaas/OMA in the Seattle Public Library, Panelite features prominently, and to put it bluntly is just a cool material.

Similarly ubercool is the work of James Carpenter Design, which features prominently at the new 7 World Trade Center.

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