Above: the Tripp Trapp chair.
I stopped in on Century of the Child, “an exploration and celebration of modern design for children in the 20th century,” at the Museum of Modern Art in NY. It was fascinating and delightful, and brought back some memories.
Assorted exhibit design-related web finds:
The Google Web Lab at the Science Museum in London
Designing for Accessibility: MoMA’s Material Lab
Harvard Medical School’s “Training the Eye” course
SEGD is hosting a symposium, “The Art of Collaboration,” in Raleigh October 4–5
The last day to see the Terracotta Warriors in North America is August 26 at Times Square.
The National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia now offers free admission for their first floor gallery.
Why the Museum of Broken Relationships is so great (and it’s not just the name)
100 Toys that Define Our Childhood—vote for your favorites for a new exhibit at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. Voting ends tomorrow, August 17.
“Spiders Alive!’ at the American Museum of Natural History (NY Times review)
Meanwhile, I’ve been pinning obsessively over on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/cfave
Pinterest allows you to “pin” to “boards” anything that catches your fancy on the internet. My boards are mostly design-related, such as “exhibits,” “engagement,” “interiors,” “exteriors,” “materials,” etc. It’s basically a place to collect found inspiration. Fun.
It’s gotten quite a bit of press already that I’m afraid I don’t have much of interest to add to (here is a thoughtful review), but in a nutshell: it covers the past 40 years of video game art. The exhibit includes interviews of game designers and developers, conceptual art, video displays of 80 games (voted on by the public), and playable games (five, for the five eras of game technology).
[I would have loved to play some Super Mario Brothers, but the line was 10 kids deep so I chose to move on....]
Historic game consoles were also on display. (ugh, the games I played with as a kid are now “historic.”) We were interested to learn about the industrial design and engineering of the actual consoles, but that was not covered in this exhibit. Perhaps in a follow-up?
The designers describe their process and the materials and production techniques used in this blog post. There is also an upcoming gallery talk, “Building ‘The Art of Video Games’” on August 21. For those of you not in the D.C. area, the exhibit travels beginning late October.
I am in awe of the Van Cleef & Arpels traveling exhibition. But alas, I can only look at photos.
My colleague Le Zhengyuan, however, saw this exhibit twice. Once while it was on view in NY at the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt (and called “Set in Style”) and then again when it moved to MOCA Shanghai (and changed its name to “Timeless Beauty”). [Naturally, while it was on view in Tokyo it had yet a different name, “Spirit of Beauty.”]
Le shared the photos of MOCA Shanghai’s exhibit below:
She said, “they didn’t move the entire exhibit set to Shanghai, but there were some new displays, like the octopus-like [structure]. The space is very dark…and the sparkling bubble glass displays make it look like an underwater world!” She thought both versions were fantastic.
The designers, Patrick Jouin, explain: “for this exhibition we wanted the visitors to lose all sense of time, to open a door onto an imaginary world. The nature theme, which is a major source of inspiration for Van Cleef & Arpels, has also influenced the scenography. The pieces in the exhibition are presented in gigantic glass drops. In order to create a sensual and mysterious installation, we have used various types of illusions.”
The photos below are from the Cooper-Hewitt exhibit, and were taken by Matt Flynn, © Smithsonian Institution:
While both exhibit versions used the bubble glass cases, the Cooper-Hewitt’s version seemed more traditional than MOCA Shanghai’s. Less octopus-structure and more tables and wall vitrines. I’d hazard a guess that the primary reason is U.S. ADA requirements. I’m curious what other challenges the designers had to address as they designed an exhibit for travel to four different countries (Japan, the U.S., Shanghai, and France).
In all its iterations, this is a gorgeous exhibition. If you can, definitely see it.
(Also check out this promo video; it has some nice views of the Tokyo exhibit.)
Dragging out photos from the archives for your inspiration pleasure…
I loved this exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York. America’s Mayor: John V. Lindsay and the Reinvention of News York opened and closed two years ago, but I still remember it for its bold colors and interesting story. From the museum’s description:
[The exhibit] examines the controversial tenure (1966-1973) and dramatic times of New York’s 103rd mayor. The exhibition presents John V. Lindsay’s efforts to lead a city that was undergoing radical changes and that was at the center of the upheavals of the 1960s and 1970s; it highlights Mayor Lindsay’s ambitious initiatives to redefine New York City’s government, economy, culture, and urban design. Through his outspoken championship of city life, commitment to civil rights, and opposition to the Vietnam War, Lindsay emerged as a national figure in a troubled and exhilarating era.
I loved the colors used throughout, in the murals and inside the artifact case (like the example at top).
A detail shot of a mural, showing the halftone treatment used, is below.
Throughout the exhibit, artifact vitrines were incorporated into walls in interesting ways, such as the tabletop case above and the vitrine set into the triangular freestanding wall below. They also used a silver finish that I was quite taken with.
Also noteworthy was the amount of information and artifacts on display. Overwhelming, perhaps, for some, but my observation was that the people there were genuinely interested in reading and looking at objects and documents, and for those with shorter attention spans, the large titles provided sign posts to help locate areas that would be of more interest.
The attention to detail throughout was what I appreciated the most. Below is a photo of a sneaky sliver of mural tucked between two walls. Unnecessary, nice touch.
The AIGA BoNE Show (Best of New England [Design]) is a design competition for New England, hosted biennially by AIGA Boston. I was asked to be director of the 2011 show—after doing a decent job of designing the exhibit for the 2009 show—and when I said “yes” without even thinking about it, I found myself responsible for its call-for-entries, judging, meet-the-judges event, awards show, exhibition, website, catalogue…you know, every little thing involved with a design competition.
It was also the very last thing I did before I left Boston for DC…back in June. Yeah, it’s been a while.
First I had to find a theme…. I worked with George Restrepo to brainstorm a half dozen promising directions. The eventual winner—”Wicked Problems/Wicked Solutions”—was born while myself, George, and a couple other AIGA volunteers on the BoNE committee were discussing the concept of wicked problems and how design is essential to problem solving. Keeping tongue in cheek, I also liked that if people didn’t exactly understand our intent for the theme, it could also be interpreted as “wicked” in the New England sense.
The call-for-entries (above), designed by Kristen Coogan, featured a playful Rube Goldberg-esque problem-solving machine. The visual identity was carried through the rest of the competition and awards show’s graphic pieces, including the website (below), designed by Justin Hattingh, with online entry system put together by Jeremy Perkins—all-around make-everything-on-the-internet-work guy.
I also tried to keep all of the associated events aligned to the theme; for example, at the meet-the-judges event the three judges each gave a presentation related to “wicked problems.”
All event and exhibition photos by Ben Gebo, with thanks.
For the exhibition, we continued to play with the problem solving theme. Katelyn Mayfield designed a component-based display system: individual displays could be arranged in any configuration to take advantage of our huge gallery space on Boston University’s campus. The displays could then be packed flat and shipped to other venues when the BoNE Show “went on the road” after its run in Boston.
Here is that huge gallery space, full of awards show guests:
All the exhibit displays were in the front third of the gallery, arranged in a maze-like way to give people the sense they were discovering each winning design project. Each display was custom-designed for the design project it would hold and hand-built from corrugated plastic sheets and PVC pipes. Windows and shelves were built by cutting and folding the plastic sheets, by Katelyn and a crack team of awesome volunteers, including BU’s student AIGA group. Some photos of the exhibit displays:
And some details… Designers’ names were laser cut from thick illustration board and the edges of shelves were finished with cyan-colored tape.
Below, left: I commissioned furniture designer Seth Wiseman of ConForm Lab to design and build two sets of “tangram benches” which could be moved into endless configurations—a human-sized three-dimensional tangram game. The benches were sold during the event auction and the money benefited AIGA Boston. Seth also designed and built the tangram stage, which is in a couple of photos below.
Below, right: For the media-based winning entries, we created a simple kiosk with a great interface designed by Joe Morris.
Above, left: The silent auction table. We also had a live auction for the big-ticket items. Go big or go home… Jason Stevens was my sponsors man, along with Kathleen Byrnes. Because the point of this entire production was to raise money for the non-profit AIGA, we tried to get everything for free, or at least on the cheap, and were very thankful for all of our generous sponsors.
Above: The (ahem, award-winning) awards show catalogue designed by George Restrepo and printed and bound by ACME Bookbinding, and the keepsake entry ticket designed by Ira Cummings and printed and foil stamped by EM Letterpress.
Below: The awards show! AIGA Boston chapter president Matthew Bacon served as Master of Ceremonies.
Above left: BoNE Show volunteers hand out bone trophies, cast in aluminum (or bronze for the Judges’ Choice winners). Those things are for real—they weigh a ton and all winners’ names were punched by hand (by Bridget Sandison, who also—along with Juliana Press and Meghann Hickson—took care of receiving and sorting and tracking all the competition entries).
Above right: Me and Tracy Swyst, AIGA Boston’s VP of operation, who has overseen many many many BoNE Shows. Other people I’d like to thank: the rest of the AIGA Boston board: Heather, Jodi, Colleen, Brandon, Jillfrancis, Diane, Chiranit, Lee, Mat, Jason R, and Sarah, and the boards from AIGA Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, and NH/VT, and everyone else who lent a hand in any way.
It was a really great experience. I was so glad when it was over. :)
A compilation of exhibit design-related web finds
I only have eyes
+ Everyone’s been raving about Doug Aitken’s SONG 1 at the Hirshhorn…because it’s awesome. I’ve visited twice; and would—will—visit at least once more before it closes on May 13. My grainy snapshots don’t do this any justice—you have to experience it in person.
+ If you’ve missed the hubbub, the 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking is April 15. Dozens of exhibits about the ship and sinking are opening, including the biggest of them all, in Belfast
+ Also: Fire & Ice at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum; Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition, everywhere; Titanic at the South Street Seaport Museum in NY
+ The Union Pacific Railroad Museum’s Building America traveling exhibit—in a traveling train car, naturally. The entire museum opens in Iowa in a month.
+ Part 1 in a series of articles describing exhibit design, from Mark Walhimer at museumplanner.org: exhibit planning
+ Blueprint, a guidebook to build your own history museum in the 21st century, from The Museum of the Future