Life Cycles

News — 19 January 2024

From September 2, 2023
through July 7, 2024

At the MoMA in New York, an exhibition investigates the materials of contemporary design by exploring the innovative, sustainable and responsible practices embraced by designers from all over the world.

Life Cycles: The Materials of Contemporary Design can be visited until July, an exhibition that examines how design can be elegant and innovative while also responsible and respectful of other ecosystems. On view in the Museum’s street-level gallery this exhibition of approximately 80 contemporary design works from MoMA’s collection looks at how some 40 designers are considering the full life-cycles of materials—from extraction all the way to recycling, upcycling, or disposal. The exhibition investigates the fundamental role design can play in translating current environmental considerations into sophisticated and informed responses.

Maarten Baas. Sweeper’s Clock. 2009. Video still. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. © Maarten Baas

“The environmental crisis is front and center in everybody’s mind,” says Antonelli. “Design has an integral responsibility, and any act of good design should involve awareness, empathy, respect, and consideration toward all objects, organisms, and ecosystems—as well as future generations. Design can be an agent of positive change and play a crucial part in restoring the fragile ties between humans and the rest of nature. The materials with which objects are made, and our cultural attitudes toward them—as designers and as citizens— lead this evolutionary process.”

Aranda/Lasch, Benjamin Aranda, Chris Lasch, Terrol Dew Johnson Knot. Endless Knot. 2006. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. © Aranda/Lasch, Terrol Dew Johnson

The exhibition showcases the unconventional ways in which designers have rethought and deployed materials to embrace restorative attitudes and facilitate the preservation and protection of the environment. The featured works highlight new approaches and include examples of ingenious reuse, upcycling, and use of waste as a new material, such as Nendo’s Cabbage Chair (2007). Other methods, including co-creation with other species, are seen in works such as Tomáš Gabzdil Libertíny’s Honeycomb Vase (2006), which is made in collaboration with hundreds of bees. Mae-ling Lokko’s commission of a wall panel made of hemp, kenaf fibers and fungal mycelium is an example of an approach that utilizes manufacturing practices with naturally available forms of energy or materials. These and many more works on view exemplify this next era of progress in sustainable design.

Life Cycles: The Materials of Contemporary Design is organized by Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator, and Maya Ellerkmann, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Architecture and Design.

Tag: Materia Natura Sustainability

© — All rights reserved. — Published on 19 January 2024

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