Over the next two weeks on the Cooper-Hewitt Design Blog, students from an interdisciplinary graduate-level course on the Triennial taught by the Triennial curatorial team blog their impressions and inspirations of the current exhibition,‘Why Design Now?’.



What does it mean to want everyone to have access to knowledge about everything businesses and government are doing? Is the act of living with transparent things merely a tugging at the will to become invisible, to have less impact on the environment? Is the image of nothing richer than the image of excess? Does nothing cost less than something? Is the age of transparency an extension of the era of free? Will people eventually become divided into two invisible classes: one whose information is linked to their every move and one that is impossible to trace?



In a world where the museum has become the cathedral for the secular, the design of spaces, objects, clothing, tools, and communication is unveiling itself by becoming see-through or literally clear. Perhaps today’s consumers are trying to devise a way to leave their consumption behind, but have not yet resolved how to do without certain things. Instead of eliminating the production of objects and built spaces, they have made a move to remove the externality of things.



Corruption has become exceedingly unbearable in recent decades. Its undeniable presence in government has ravaged countries and befuddled international relations. Citizens have risen up and demanded a clearer understanding of what happens in town halls, capitols, and parliaments around the globe. This call for transparency is a demand for greater explanation and access. Because of this movement, now is the time for unleashing cameras in presidential boardrooms and social networking from senate meetings.



Together, these sentiments are driving the world of design toward transparency. Although it is not clear whether these transparent designed objects and spaces have a positive impact on the environment or politics, the symbolic message is there for all to see, so long as everyone continues to look.


Sarah Froelich
School of Visual Arts Design Criticism MFA program

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