NEW YORK - As guest curator of the “Select” series exhibition in Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, Bob Greenberg, founder of the international design innovation company R/GA engages his singular creative eye to uncover compelling design lineages and make thematic connections with the museum’s expansive collection of 210,000 objects.
In view from February 23 through September 9, 2018, “Bob Greenberg Selects” is the 16th installation in the series on which designers, artists, architects and public figures are invited to guest curate an exhibition. For this presentation, Greenberg brings together 42 innovative works from Cooper Hewitt’s holdings to explore creativity in the age of technology.
For “Bob Greenberg Selects: Connected by Design,” opening February 23 at New York’s Cooper Hewitt, advertising pioneer Bob Greenberg curates 42 items from the museum’s collection that reveal the relationship between design and technology over the last 65 years.
“A 2013 National Design Award winner for Communication, Bob is a true original – revered in his field as an iconoclastic thinker with a prescient understanding of the creative and strategic possibilities of interactive design,” said Caroline Baumann, director of Cooper Hewitt. “An enthusiastic collector of industrial design, “Bob plunged into Cooper Hewitt’s important holdings of wired and wireless tools and pulled forth a fascinating visual narrative of technology’s seismic impact on design. And as per Bob’s way, the installation will be an immersive, interactive experience involving animation, audio and video.”
The exhibition illustrates how technology has propelled design innovations in form, style and function over the past 65 years. The collection of pivotal multi-disciplinary objects explores how design and technology have augmented and revolutionized modern human life.
It is presented in four groupings: “Connected Devices” focuses on groundbreaking communications tools, ranging from the Henry Dreyfuss-designed Model 500 telephone (1953) and the early fax machine Qwip 2100 (1976-78) to the first–generation iPhone (2002) and Google Glass (2013); “Disruptive Innovations” shows objects that have been industry game changes, such as the Edison Voicewriter Dictaphone (1963) the Sony TV8-301 Portable Television (1959) and the MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer (2012); while “Measurement and Calculation” features a historical range of calculators, watches and thermostats, addressing themes on computation and notation in design.
German industrial designer Dieter Rams’ ten principles for good design have inspired Greenberg throughout his career, and in the curation of his new show at the Cooper Hewitt.
The “Dieter Rams Ten Principles of Good Design”, Greenberg presents 11 objects that he considers best embody these principles including usefulness, honesty and unobtrusiveness, such as: Rams’ HLD 4 No. 4416 Hair Dryers (1970), ET55 Calculator (1980), and AB 21’s Alarm Clock (1978).
Rams’ HLD 4 No. 4416 Hair Dryers (1970): Designed by Dieter Rams (German, b. 1932); Manufactured by Braun AG (Frankfurt, Germany); Molded plastic; electronic components; each: 5 × 13.5 × 8 cm (1 15/16 × 5 5/16 × 3 1/8 in.); Gift of Robert M. Greenberg, 2017-51-22/24.
ET55 Calculator (1980): Designed by Dieter Rams (German, b. 1932) and Dietrich Lubs (German, b. 1938); Manufactured by Braun AG (Frankfurt, Germany); Molded ABS plastic, electronic components; 13.6 × 7.6 × 1 cm (5 3/8 × 3 × 3/8 in.); Gift of George R. Kravis II, 2015-5-4.
AB 21/s Travel Alarm Clock (1978): Designed by Dietrich Lubs and Dieter Rams and manufactured by Braun AG; Molded plastic, mechanical parts; Gift of Robert M. Greenberg, 2017-51-19.
“Design has always been a powerful force for innovation and progress, but never has it been more important than it is today,” said Greenberg. “I am honored to partner with Cooper Hewitt to explore the intersection of human achievements, technological advancement and design thinking as seen through the evolution of objects from the atomic age through the connected age.”
The exhibit’s interior architecture was designed by AD100 architect Toshiko Mori, who previously collaborated with Greenberg to design his Connected Home in upstate New York.
Architect Toshiko Mori serves as exhibition designer and has envisions a “room within a room” in the gallery. The former ornate drawing room of the Carnegie Mansion has been transformed to create a modern and neutral white background, facilitating intimate observation of the objects on view. The viewing is complemented by a streamline OLED lighting installation by Kaneka OLED, the first time it will be employed in an American cultural institution.
In place of traditional museum labels, visitors are encouraged to download and use an interactive app developed by R/GA. A “scan and learn” component used the image recognition software Clarifai, which allows users to take a picture of an object and discover exploratory and related materials.
The exhibition contains a video commentary on design by Greenberg, a video commentary his own 10 Principles of Design with objects included in the exhibition and drawing connections between them.
Watch Bob Greenberg's interview below: