Opinion

MoMA’s Paola Antonelli Talks Design

If you’re like me then you’re probably kicking yourself that you were unable to attend the Creative Mornings talk by MoMA design curator Paola Antonelli.

Paola Antonelli during her TED talk about treating design as art. (via ted.com)

Organized by the popular blog Swissmiss, the series regularlu invites fantastic design-related speakers to talk — rather informally — about design and its incarnations. Antonelli has put together some impressive shows at the MoMA over the years but she became a superstar with her recent acquisition of the “@” symbol, which captured both headlines and the public imagination.

Thankfully, I just discovered that Soulellis Studio blogged about Antonelli’s Creative Mornings talk, and they’ve shared their notes with all of us. Some really interesting highlights, include:

  • Today, ours is a generation of lost architects — only 70+ year old architects get to build — so many architects have turned to design (so true!)
  • While Apple has raised the everyday design standard there’s been a decrease in the object as we now turn to interdisciplinary, ethereal, conversational and experimental design.
  • When curating a show she likes to leave it unfinished. Like architects who have a desire to never complete the project, she says that if you leave an exhibition unfinished you give a gift to the public — you let them finish it. You leave them with somewhere else to go.

I found most of the post insightful, and it made me think more and more about the division that exists between art and design and why it is there. (Micheal Bierut mentioned at another Creative Mornings event that the difference was the result of clients, but I’m not entirely sure what he meant since the comment was more of an aside than a point.)

Ever since popular brands (think IKEA, Apple, Nike … ) began to take good contemporary design seriously, the design world seems to be growing by leaps and bounds. Perhaps it’s time for a rethinking of that boundary between art and design, though I’m a little hesitant to collapse the two fields into one — they seem to have different uses and categories are very useful to critics like myself who strive to understand deeper meanings. In any case, I do believe that thinkers like Antonelli are seminal in the future of design thinking.

For more information about her ideas, watch her TED talk from March 2007 about treating design as art.

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