Aug 8, 2007

Dispatch from the MoMA

My friend Sepideh and I started our careers as editorial assistants together a few years ago. Since then we've both moved on to different jobs and cities—she's in New York and editing a fantastic blog called Pars Arts (check today's post about renowned Iranian architect Farshid Moussavi) among other exciting things. I was really flattered when I got an email a few days ago from her asking if she could contribute a piece about her latest visit to the MoMA.

Dispatch from the MoMA

By Sepideh Saremi
On a recent trip to check out MoMA's Serra retrospective, I discovered the MoMA architecture and design galleries. I've been in New York for a year and I'm ashamed that it took me so long to find them, but anyone that's visited MoMA on a Saturday knows that it's mostly about resisting the urge to elbow your way through hordes of Teva-wearing tourists. That said, anyone reading this who is planning a visit to MoMA should absolutely see the Philip Johnson Architecture and Design Galleries.

I spent a good amount of time drooling over the Gruppo DAM "Libro" chair designed in 1970, which looks like a cozy Rolodex, and the more recently designed (2000) Patrick Norguet Cappellini Rainbow acrylic chair (beautiful, and yours for only $13,000, yikes). Of course, appropriate homage was also paid to all the mid-century modern stuff, like the rather freaky Eames leg splint, pictured among the wood chairs. Apparently the leg splint was designed for the U.S. Navy in the 1940s and paved the way for Charles Eames' molded plywood furniture, but in person it looks like it was designed for Yao Ming.

I'm also really pleased to report that MoMA's fairly new-ish, still small but ongoing Digitally Mastered collection is doing a good job of exploring the evolution and convergence of digital technology and design. The collection focuses on the crucial role technology takes in the design process, particularly on how digital renderings and computer manufacturing make previously impossible-to-manufacture designs not only possible but also efficient. In a way, it's sort of design's tribute to math. Even cooler in this exhibit is the wide range of objects that illustrate these concepts - everything from a 1960s Jaguar which owes its curves to mathematical formulas to CAD (computer-aided design) sketches by Foreign Office Architects Farshid Moussavi (who I wrote about on Pars Arts), and Alejandro Zaera-Polo.

My hope is that someday MoMA has an actual example of computer-aided manufacturing process live in the museum, so you can see it happening, but there isn't a ton of space devoted to this collection just yet. I also want to try on the Eames leg splint, but I don't think that's going to happen either.

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