Can you explain a little bit about the type of work you do here at Cooper-Hewitt?
I’m the Membership Associate at Cooper-Hewitt. That means I’m essentially Cooper-Hewitt’s first-line ambassador to those patrons who care about it most. A lot of effort goes into programming exclusive studio visits and tours for our elite Design Watch members—and taking photos at the events to share these exceptional experiences with the world. Check out the albums from the ICFF 2013 tour and Chilewich studio visit. Day to day, I design and email event invites and other Members’ e-newsletters, print and send new Membership cards, work with a mail house to deliver renewal letters and keep Members’ records up to date in our database.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part of my job is organizing large-scale initiatives, such as the Members’ travel program to Design Miami/ in 2012. That was a trip! An early hurdle was securing waivers from participants well in advance, in order for the City of Miami to grant us permission to visit Miami Marine Stadium facing Biscayne Bay with its architect, Hilario Candela. Adding to the challenge was my proximity, as I coordinated all events from afar. Was I ever jealous to see participants’ photos of the graffiti-covered stadium from my desk in New York.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
Besides getting to know our Members, I enjoy the studio visits and special tours for Design Watch Members the best. I learn so much from our hosts and Cooper-Hewitt’s curators. Where else could I be introduced to scratch & sniff wallpaper?
How would you describe design? What is good design? Bad design?
Design is the process of applying intent to solve a problem through an idea, product, or means of communication. Good design solves a problem elegantly and gets the job done—and definitely need not be a luxury item. Bad design is wasteful at its worst, and barely fulfills its purpose at best. Funny, a bicycle can fall into either category.
How has the renovation either opened new doors or posed new challenges for you?
How do you get a member to renew when there is no museum to visit? That challenge has opened the door to creative solutions including:
1. Arranging additional access to design and art fairs, such as complimentary entry to Collective.1 and The Armory Show.
2. Free admission for Members to Cooper-Hewitt’s off-site public programs.
3. Offering “2 years for the price of 1” Memberships during Cooper-Hewitt’s renovation. If interested please join today!
Looking forward, what are you most excited about once the museum reopens?
I’m so excited to have the garden open again and to see the wisteria blooming on the exterior of the Carnegie Mansion—and to be able to host Members’ parties in the garden.
What is your favorite Cooper-Hewitt exhibition to date? Why?
Design For the Other 90% because it featured a vegetable patch growing in what was formerly part of the lawn in Cooper-Hewitt’s garden. If I recall correctly there were also innovative bicycle solutions for rural transport on display too. How cool is it to farm at a museum and feature design that really impacts lives? This is really the future of design.
What was the most memorable moment for you at Cooper-Hewitt?
Being freaked out by a giant raccoon (with glowing eyes) on the one and only night I locked my bike inside the garden behind the mansion.
What is the future of design?
An emphasis on sustainability and making bad design obsolete.
Finally, if you could redesign anything, what would it be?
The bicycle bell. I have gone through at least 4 or 5 while commuting over the past decade in NYC and have yet to find one that works in the rain. And to find one built with longevity in mind. Now if someone could just design a theft-proof bike...