I believe in the power of design to change the world — from climate and health solutions to accessibility and justice. The Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum’s platform celebrates and harnesses that power across our nation and beyond. In that light, I am honored to be joining the Cooper Hewitt’s Board of Trustees to help the museum fulfill this important mission.
Throughout history, there’s been a common misperception that design is merely a tool to beautify the world. Rather, I believe it is an integral part of bettering our human existence. In recent years, design has garnered more of the attention it deserves thanks to the evolution of life-changing technology, products, and systems thoughtfully designed to help us thrive, and to live better together. The most impactful design showcases the perfect mix of form, function, and purpose. As designers, no matter our medium, we have a duty to work in service of a more beautiful and just world.
Some examples of this can be found at Cooper Hewitt Exhibits + Events:
Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial: Nature showcases forward-thinking sustainable design and technology inspired by nature to save our struggling planet.
Face Values: Exploring Artificial Intelligence is an incredibly moving, immersive installation that explores the pervasive, but often hidden, role of facial-detection technology. Come ready to use your own face to control cameras and software to experience firsthand these often hidden tools.
In the Immersion Room you can test your wall-paper making skills by playing designer using the Cooper Hewitt “Pen” to create your own drawings on the screen, then watch the projection fill up half of the space, floor-to-ceiling with your many creations. No one ever wants to leave this exhibit.
Willi Smith Street Couture will open on March 13, 2020. The first museum survey of African-American designer Willi Smith (1948–1987) will celebrate this under-recognized pioneer of streetwear fashion, who played an important role in the New York art scene of the 1970s–80s, before his sudden death in 1987 of AIDS-related complications. Featuring key works, the exhibition will illustrate the evolution of Smith’s designs through his extensive collaborations with visual and performing artists, architects, and media vanguard, and will demonstrate fashion’s potential to break down cultural and social boundaries. Smith’s work will be revealed not only as an expression of the sociopolitical, economic, and artistic transformations of his time, but also as an actor in the reimagining of fashion from a siloed discipline reinforcing class, race, and gender divides toward an experience and lifestyle-driven industry that can create a space of play and indeterminacy.
Ghetto Gastro Selects will open on April 20, 2020. Jon Gray of the Bronx-based creative collective Ghetto Gastro will curate the 19th installment in the exhibition series that invites designers, artists, architects, and public figures to examine and interpret the museum’s collection from their unique point of view. Working at the intersection of food, design and art, Jon and his team work to honor the soul and history of their community, while also unleashing their unbridled creativity and expansive imagination to unexpected, otherworldly collaborations.
Access + Ability This traveling exhibit explores the surge of design with and by people who span a wide range of physical, cognitive, and sensory abilities. Fueled by advances in research and technology, the proliferation of functional, life-enhancing products is creating unprecedented access in homes, schools, workplaces, and in the world at large.
National Design Week at the Cooper Hewitt is a series of educational programs to broaden access to the vision and work of notable design leaders and to inspire folks of all ages to engage with design and design thinking.
National Design Awards celebrates the design greats who are leading the way — including a newly added Climate Action Award for 2020.
I hope you have a chance to explore some of these incredible Cooper Hewitt exhibits and events. Once again, I’m grateful to be joining the Board of Trustees at the Cooper Hewitt to help expand the impact of design. Please let me know if you stop by the museum, and be in touch anytime you find yourself inspired by a design we should know about.