If you happen to be in New York this summer (one day it will stop raining, I promise), be sure to check out these design destinations, all featuring previous National Design Award winners.

Recently opened at the Museum of F.I.T., the very beautifully installed retrospective of Toledo Studio’s designs includes The Dress (i.e., the lemongrass shift dress and jacket designed for Michelle Obama on Inauguration Day) and many other (often more compelling) explorations of the relationship between geometry and the body. Introduced with a fascinating timeline of the history of the studio and the symbiotic collaboration between Ruben and Isabel Toledo, the exhibition also includes the most iconic garments of Toledo’s career. Not least, the exhibition is worth a visit because of the relationship between the beautiful garments and the mannequins (designed by Ruben Toledo), reinforced through the datum of watercolors and sketches that contextualize the rich trajectory of garments on display. For those who can afford it, these will apparently all be available in the fall for purchase in lieu of the studio’s usual resort line.

Heading slightly downtown and west, arrive at the elevated park otherwise known as the High Line. While we might be best advised to avoid the subplots of pie-eyed developers trying to capitalize upon the still-moneyed classes of the far west side, there was a more than healthy crowd waiting to climb aboard on a suddenly sunny June weekend afternoon this past Sunday, and everyone in the park would seemingly agree that it was worth the wait. As the intern for the exhibition that features this project pointed out, even the water fountains were integrated as a design idea. Go now before the charge to keep it simple, wild, slow, and quiet become quaint aspirations.

Moving further east and slightly south, the about-to-be-completed new building for Cooper Union features the aggressively robust architecture of Morphosis and the deliberately distorted signage of Pentagram. Previewed in the New York Times last week as a “tough and sexy statement,” the building embraces its context while, somehow, seeming decidedly of its time. A bold move for a consistently radical institution that has been able to test boundaries and foster dialogue at the edge of disciplines in a 19th century building before now. There will likely be no doubt about when this new iteration was built (or commissioned), but the role of the public spaces within and the “vertical campus” promised by its atrium both propose a building that will radicalize the relationship between student and public while capturing the spirit of dialogue and collaboration that is endemic to the institution.

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