TitleBeauty - Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial
Duration12 February 2016 to 21 August 2016
VenueCooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum
Opening HoursMonday to Friday 10.00 - 18.00 / Saturday 10.00 - 21.00 / Sunday 10.00 - 18.00
Telephone(+1) 212 849 2950
|Title||Beauty - Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial||Posted In||Exhibition||Duration||12 February 2016 to 21 August 2016|
|Venue||Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum||Opening Hours||Monday to Friday 10.00 - 18.00 / Saturday 10.00 - 21.00 / Sunday 10.00 - 18.00||Location||
2 EAST 91ST STREET
New York City, NY 10128United States
|Telephone||(+1) 212 849 2950||Visit Website||cooperhewitt.org|
Despite the fact that attempting to answer the perennial question what beauty is may seem like a tall order, that’s exactly what the “Beauty—Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial” at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum invites visitors to do. Curated by Andrea Lipps and Ellen Lupton and featuring more than 250 works by 63 designers from around the globe, the exhibition explores the concept of beauty across contemporary visual culture, showcasing artefacts, prototypes and installations from a wide range of art and design fields.
The fifth instalment of the museum’s popular contemporary design exhibition series, the show is structured around seven keywords (extravagant, intricate, ethereal, transgressive, emergent, elemental and transformative) and encompasses a wide range of exhibits from everyday objects like lamps, furniture and household products, to more specialised endeavours like haute couture, digital illustration and perfumery —all the way to extraordinary pieces like “Otaared”, a 3D-printed wearable device for extraterrestrial explorers, designed by MIT Media Labs’ Neri Oxman to facilitate synthetic biological processes on alien planets.
Undoubtedly one of the exhibition’s highlights is Jenny E. Sabin’s 2-meter-high “PolyThread Knitted Textile Pavilion”. Commissioned by Cooper Hewitt and made from photo-luminescent and solar-active threads, the installation combines a sculptural aesthetic with structural innovation. The exhibition also includes Sabin’s 3D-printed ceramic "PolyBricks", a new kind of mortar less building material that is both practical and beautiful.
Prominently displayed, fashion designer Giambattista Valli’s long-tail tulle ball gown, which fades from crimson to pale pink, depicts beauty as “the domain of glamour, seduction and excess”. Similarly, hair artist Guido Palau’s iconic work photographed by his collaborator David Sims and ornamental fingernails featuring tiny, jewel-like sculptural elements by the Japanese manicurist Naomi Yasuda share an over-the-top extravagant aesthetic. On the other side of the spectrum, Tuomas Markunpoika Tolvanen has created phantom pieces of furniture (for his project “Engineering Temporality”) that have been constructed from a fine web of steel rings that possess an ethereal, melancholic beauty. In the same area of the exhibition, visitors can find Pop-Victorian wallpaper by Studio Job and textured garments by fashion designer Mary Katrantzou.
In another section, Ana Rajcevic’s wearable, body-enhancing, handcrafted sculptures from her series ”Animal: The Other Side of Evolution” emanate an animalistic beauty that suggests both strength and sensuality, whereas Noa Zilberman’s jewellery series “Wrinkles” spreads lines of gold across the forehead, neck or cleavage, celebrating something that contemporary beauty standards would normally disapprove of. For an “etheral” experience, visitors can access Berlin-based scent artist Sissel Tolaas’s Smell Lab, a small room installation that “simulates complex and often transgressive olfactory experiences” or scratch and sniff the 4-meter-wide painted wall outside the lab to experience smells of Central Park, including grass, car exhaust fumes and horse manure.
The show also includes pop culture products such as the opening titles and credits for several critically acclaimed TV shows by Elastic, a design studio in Santa Monica, California, and Aaron Koblin & Vincent Morisset’s interactive video for music band Arcade Fire’s “Just a Reflektor”. The wide diversity of works on display both reinforce beauty’s subjectivity as well as demonstrate, as the curators explain, how beauty can affect us in many different ways: it can be "serene or disruptive, comforting or chaotic”. The exhibition is complemented by a catalogue devoted almost entirely to interviews in which, quite fittingly, nearly all the designers are asked about their thoughts about beauty.