About the Exhibition
Why design now? Designers around the world are answering this question by creating products, prototypes, buildings, landscapes, messages, and more that address social and environmental challenges. How can we power the world with clean energy? How can we move people and products safely and efficiently? How can we shelter communities in sustainable environments? How can we close the loop of materials extraction and disposal? How can we enable people around the globe to generate and share wealth? How can we improve the quality of life for all people through health-care innovations? How can we communicate ideas effectively and creatively? How can we discover beauty and wisdom in simple forms that use minimal resources? Collectively, designers are seeking to enhance human health, prosperity, and comfort while diminishing the conflicts between people and the global ecosystems we inhabit.
Why Design Now? is the fourth installation in the National Design Triennial exhibition series launched by Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in 2000. The Triennial provides a sample of contemporary innovation, looking at what progressive designers, engineers, entrepreneurs, and citizens are doing in diverse fields and at different scales around the world. Included are practical solutions already in use as well as experimental ideas designed to inspire further research. A few projects will provoke controversy, answering some questions while raising others. Each one—from a soil-powered table lamp to a post-petroleum urban utopia—celebrates the transformative power of design.
The exhibition itself is an exercise in environmentally responsible design. In collaboration with the exhibition designer, Tsang Seymour, the Museum has employed eco-safe materials, modular components, simple mounting techniques, and materials-reduction strategies wherever possible, and the exhibition design can be remade at traveling exhibition sites using local materials. Exhibition furniture is made from Medite FR, a composite of 100% postindustrial recycled wood, finished with zero-VOC paint and varnish. Exhibition areas are delineated with recyclable FLOR Fedora carpet tiles manufactured from 80% postconsumer fibers. Large graphics and images are printed on UltraTex Organic U230 fabric, and labels are printed on 100% recyclable Ply-Corr cardboard made from 50% postconsumer waste. The catalogue, designed by Pentagram, is printed by Toppan using FSC-certified methods and materials, including Moorim papers and soy-based inks. Together, these steps make Why Design Now? the most sustainable exhibition in the Museum’s history. And we are only just getting started.
National Design Triennial: Why Design Now? is sponsored by
Generous support is provided by Agnes Bourne and the Mondriaan Foundation.
The exhibition is also supported in part by the Norwegian Consulate General in New York, the Esme Usdan Exhibition Endowment Fund, the Ministry of Culture Denmark, and public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a State agency.
Additional funding is provided by Dr. Leonard Polonsky and Dr. Georgette Bennett, The Consulate General of Finland, the Consulate General of the Netherlands, The Consulate General of Switzerland in New York, The Cultural Services of the French Embassy/La Maison Française, and the Office of Cultural Affairs, Consulate General of Israel in New York.