Pluralis chair. Cecilie Manz

Last chance to catch 'Why Design Now?'

through January 9 '11

Copper-Hewitt National Design Museum
New York City

The 'Why Design Now?' exhibition, part of the National Design Triennial, at the Cooper- Hewitt, is entering it's last fortnight. Here we pick out some of our highlights.

This ambitious show is global in scope, showcasing design solutions that promote environmental stewardship, social equity, accessibility and creative capital in 134 projects from 44 countries.

Divided into eight themes: energy, mobility, community, materials, prosperity, health, communication and simplicity; The aim of the exhibition is to demonstrate the role of design as an essential tool for solving some of today’s most urgent problems. On a wider scale, it also makes a case for how business leaders, policy makers, consumers and citizens could benefit from embracing design thinking.

Cara McCarty, curatorial director said “This groundbreaking exhibition gives voice to a revolution taking place within all areas of design practice, from how materials and products are planned and conceived to how goods and services are manufactured, distributed and reclaimed worldwide...'Why Design Now?’ takes a positive look at the intriguing and ambitious projects shaping this revolution.”

Some of the most impressive projects are in the 'Prosperity' theme, with many examples of design leaders collaborating with local groups to create social enterprises that build prosperity in communities. The 'Magno wooden radios' project by Singgih Kartono has given many Javanese farmers who had previously lost their land through globalisation, a new sustainable livelihood.

In 'Design with a Conscience', Artecnica partnered with the nonprofit organizations Aid to Artisans and the British Council to identify artisan communities around the world with which to pair internationally respected designers such as Hella Jongerius, Stephen Burk and Tord Boontje to create viable products for the global design market; without devaluing or mechanising the artisan's work.

There are also many designs which embrace simplicity and form to make a difference, such as the multifunctional 'Pluralis chair' by Cecilie Manz; or 'Gripp Glasses', by Karin Eriksson, elegant glassware for all, including those with limited hand function, one of the most common disabilities.

In the 'Energy' category, Lianne van Genugten presents 'SunShade', a giant outdoor floor lamp that utilises solar cells and dynamic movement to provide shade during the day and light at night.

To see more of the projects visit Why Design Now?


SunShade, prototype by Lianne van Genugten
SunShade, prototype by Lianne van Genugten
Magno wooden radios by Singgih S. Kartono
Magno wooden radios by Singgih S. Kartono
Witches’ Kitchen collection, Design with a Conscience series / Tord Boontje
Witches’ Kitchen collection, Design with a Conscience series / Tord Boontje
Gripp glasses by Karin Eriksson
Gripp glasses by Karin Eriksson
Pluralis chair by Cecilie Manz
Pluralis chair by Cecilie Manz



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