To celebrate its renovation and reopening in the incredible Andrew Carnegie Mansion, New York’s Cooper Hewitt—Smithsonian Design Museum is showcasing a selection of its collection of 210,000 furniture and decorative objects from all over the world and spanning 30 centuries—with a new exhibit, “Making Design”, on exhibit now and, according to the Cooper Hewitt, “until it’s not.”
Installed in a suite of renovated galleries on the second floor, “Making Design” is the first in a number of exhibitions that will showcase Cooper Hewitt’s collection. Bringing together some 360 objects, including furniture, lighting fixtures, tableware, clothing, jewelry, books and posters, the exhibition provides an overview of five key elements of design: line, form, texture, pattern, and color.
The idea behind the exhibit is to inspire people to understand how design impacts their lives and their homes. Isn’t that something that those of us in the home furnishings and design industries strive for every day? The “Making Design” exhibit should be a must-see for those who design furniture and accessories for today’s consumers—reminding us that design should be both functional and beautiful.
And for those who want to dig a bit deeper, who want to see more designs by each of the Cooper Hewitt’s featured icons and visionaries, The Bienenstock Furniture Library in High Point, N.C., provides an invaluable resource to explore and research.
Just as Cooper Hewitt is the only museum in the United States devoted exclusively to historic and contemporary design, the Furniture Library is the only one of its kind—the world’s largest collection of books and publications on the history and design of furniture, interiors, architecture, textiles, finishes and construction. Both the Cooper Hewitt and the Furniture Library are free and open to the public.
So, for example, if you see the Cooper Hewitt’s Desk, c.1933, designed by Paul Frankl and now on display, you can explore more about the modernist designer at the Furniture Library with the book “Paul T. Frankl and Modern American Design” by Christopher Long, complete with photography of many more Frankl designs.
Or, if you are interested in the iconic Panton Stacking Side Chair, 1960, at the Cooper Hewitt, you will find seven books at the Furniture Library to help you research the concept behind this, the world’s first single-material and single-form chair, designed by Vernon Panton and produced by Herman Miller.
As we are “making design” for the present and the future, the past is a huge inspiration and influence. And as a resource, the incredible Bienenstock Furniture Library is available to furniture designers, interior designers, architects and industrial designers—for research and design collaborations—to help produce more worthy products that are both functional and beautiful.
That is what design is all about.
IMAGES: • Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum; Making Design Exhibition, Cooper Hewitt • Panton Stacking Side Chair, designed by Verner Panton, 1960, produced by Herman Miller, manufactured by Vitra AG; Desk c.1933, designed by Paul T. Frankl, manufactured by Frankl Galleries • Water Pitcher, Austro-HungarianEmpire 1913-14, black ink feather-pen drawing with gilding; Tall Green Bloom Urn, 2012, 3D printed nylon, designed by Michael Eden; at the Cooper Hewitt.