Beauty—Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial is the fifth installment of the museum’s signature contemporary design exhibition series. With a focus on aesthetic innovation, Beauty celebrates design as a creative endeavor that engages the mind, body, and senses. Curated by Andrea Lipps, Assistant Curator, and Ellen Lupton, Senior Curator of Contemporary Design, the exhibition features more than 250 works by 63 designers and teams from around the globe, and is organized around seven themes: extravagant, intricate, ethereal, transgressive, emergent, elemental, and transformative.
The exhibition is on view until August 21st and is not to be missed. The book is as much inspiring as the exhibit so if you don’t have a chance to visit you definitely should get the book.
WantedDesign asked a few questions to Ellen Lupton, curator of the exhibit, to get her personal vision on Beauty and learn more about the theme and the process of building the exhibition.
WantedDesign: Why the topic of beauty in 2016? Do you feel a strong desire, or need, for beauty in our society?
Ellen Lupton: Andrea Lipps and I both worked on the previous Triennial, which focused on heavy issues such as climate change and global poverty. We wanted to turn in a different direction with this exhibition, because the sensual side of design is also important. Yes, designers are problem-solvers, but they also create ideas, sensations, and experiences that stimulate the mind and body. This side of design sometimes gets overlooked in today’s discourse.
WD: Standards of beauty evolve with time and are the products of an era. How would you define beauty today?
EL: Beauty is a reaction. We each have our own experience, based on our time, place, culture, and personal drives and cravings. Beauty is what we see, grasp, behold, and respond to. Beauty is the ultimate user experience. It’s an invitation. It demands interaction between people and objects.