From the iPhone to the Tesla Model S, beauty and technology often go hand-inhand in Silicon Valley. Here, the aesthetic appeal of great design is a strategic imperative: an object’s “look and feel” provides a leading, competitive edge and can be as spectacular as the function within. Today, in fact, there are more digital and tech-product designers working in the San Francisco Bay Area than anywhere else in the world. We are an important hub of design thinking for the twenty-first century.
Amidst this widespread public interest in the new frontiers of design, the San Jose Museum of Art will present the exhibition Beauty—Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial. The exhibition comprises 280 works by fifty-seven international, cutting-edge designers from twenty-seven countries, including Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, Iran, Italy, Mexico, The Netherlands, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, and the United States.
Projects range from experimental prototypes and interactive games to high-tech fashion and architecture made possible by new material technologies; from forms enabled by advanced digital systems to fantastical creatures imagined and handmade by a cottage industry of South African beadworkers. Imagine, for example, a couture jacket that turns color based on the air temperature. Across the board, this exhibition is about beauty—and its uplifting, surprising, and inspiring impact on our lives. This exhibition lets visitors experience the delight of unfettered creativity that is simultaneously functional and smart, yet equally human, elegant, and witty.
What comes to mind when you hear the word “beauty?” The designers in Beauty answer this question in myriad ways. Simon Haas of the Haas Brothers says, “It is like finding a pattern among chaos.” The designer Hechizoo offers, “When you see beauty, you have this moment of silence, of stillness.” Fashion designer Giambattista Valli observes that, “Beauty surprises you; it can make you dizzy or erode you like an obsession.” The exhibition explores beauty through seven descriptive categories: extravagant, intricate, ethereal, transgressive, emergent, elemental, and transformative. These themes will serve as springboards to engage designers, artists, architects, engineers, and futurists (as well as the general public) in San Jose, Silicon Valley, and the Bay Area.
The Cooper Hewitt has published a 276-page catalogue with 274 images. It includes interviews with all of the designers and a section outlining the project’s curatorial DNA, including the essay “Beauty as User Experience,” by co-curators Andrea Lipps and Ellen Lupton.
PressStrange Beauty, San Francisco Magazine
September 28, 2016
Beauty is design, design beauty? Not by a long shot, San Francisco Chronicle (SFGate)
October 14, 2016
‘Beauty’ surveys latest in design at San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose Mercury News
October 18, 2016
Studio O + A, San Francisco
fuseproject, San Francisco
the art of gathering, Oakland
Art + Audience, San Francisco
Munder Skiles, Los Angeles and New York
San Jose State University, Design Department
Palm Springs Museum
Morla Design, San Francisco
Chris and Ben Ospital
Modern Appealing Clothing (MAC), San Francisco
Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee
JOHNSTONMARKLEE, Los Angeles
Rapt Studio, San Francisco
Casey and Jack Carsten
Jacquie and William Faulkner
Tad Freese and Brook Hartzell
David and Pamela Hornik
Richard A. Karp and Sarah Roberts
Jim McManis and Sara Wigh
Alyce and Michael Parsons
Theres and Dennis Rohan