As guest curator of the next exhibition in Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum’s acclaimed “Selects” series, Bob Greenberg, founder of the international design innovation company R/GA, engages his singular creative eye to uncover compelling design lineages and make thematic connections within the museum’s expansive collection of 210,000 objects. On view Feb. 23 through Sept. 9 in the Nancy and Edwin Marks Collection Gallery, “Bob Greenberg Selects” is the 16th installation in the series in which designers, artists, architects and public figures are invited to guest curate an exhibition. For his presentation, Greenberg brings together 42 innovative works from Cooper Hewitt’s holdings to explore creativity in the age of technology.
“A 2003 National Design Award winner for Communication, Bob is a true original—revered in his field as an iconoclastic thinker with a prescient understanding of the creative and strategic possibilities of interactive design,” said Caroline Baumann, director of Cooper Hewitt. “An enthusiastic collector of industrial design, Bob plunged into Cooper Hewitt’s important holdings of wired and wireless tools and pulled forth a fascinating visual narrative of technology’s seismic impact on design. And as per Bob’s way, the installation will be an immersive, interactive experience involving animation, audio and video.”
The exhibition illustrates how technology has propelled design innovations in form, style and function over the past 65 years. The collection of pivotal multi-disciplinary objects explores how design and technology have augmented and revolutionized modern human life.
It is presented in four groupings: “Connected Devices” focuses on groundbreaking communication tools, ranging from the Henry Dreyfuss-designed Model 500 telephone (1953) and the early fax machine Qwip 1200 (1976–78) to the first-generation iPhone (2007) and Google Glass (2013); “Disruptive Innovations” shows objects that have been industry game changers, such as the Edison Voicewriter Dictaphone (1953), the Sony TV8-301 Portable Television (1959) and the MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer (2012); while “Measurement and Calculation” features a historical range of calculators, watches and thermostats, addressing themes of computation and notation in design. In “Dieter Rams Ten Principles for Good Design,” Greenberg presents 11 objects that he considers best embody these principles including usefulness, honesty and unobtrusiveness, such as Rams’ HLD 4 No. 4416 Hair Dryers (1970), ET55 Calculator (1980) and AB 21/s Alarm Clock (1978).
“Design has always been a powerful force for innovation and progress, but never has it been more important than it is today,” said Greenberg. “I’m honored to partner with Cooper Hewitt to explore the intersection of human achievement, technological advancement and design thinking as seen through the evolution of objects from the atomic age through the connected age.”
Architect Toshiko Mori serves as exhibition designer and has envisioned a “room within a room” in the gallery. The former ornate drawing room of the Carnegie Mansion has been transformed to create a modern and neutral white background, facilitating intimate observation of the objects on view. The viewing is complemented by a streamlined OLED lighting installation by Kaneka OLED, the first time it will be employed in an American cultural institution.
In place of traditional museum labels, visitors are encouraged to download and use an interactive app developed by R/GA. A “scan and learn” component uses the image recognition software Clarifai, which allows users to take a picture of an object and discover explanatory and related materials.
The app also includes an audio guide feature with commentary on the objects by Greenberg, Mori, industrial designer Thomas Meyerhoffer, Cooper Hewitt curator Ellen Lupton and Cooper Hewitt National Design Award-winner Michael Bierut, a partner in the international design consultancy Pentagram. Moreover, the exhibition will contain video commentary on design by Greenberg, animating his own 10 Principles of Design with objects included in the exhibition and drawing visual connections between them. The audio for the videos will be transmitted to visitors’ devices by LISNR, a communication protocol that uses inaudible sound to broadcast information.
In conjunction with the exhibition, Greenberg will participate in a panel discussion March 27 with Cooper Hewitt Trustee John Maeda, head of computational design and inclusion at Automattic, and Debbie Millman, designer, artist, author and host of the podcast “Design Matters,” along with other leaders in design and technology.
“Bob Greenberg Selects” is made possible by the Marks Family Foundation Endowment Fund.
ABOUT BOB GREENBERG
Bob Greenberg is the founder, chairman and CEO of R/GA, the worldwide digital advertising agency, product and service design innovator and business consultancy. Along with his brother Richard, he founded R/Greenberg Associates (R/GA) in 1977 with the idea of combining design, motion graphics and live-action film and video production. A 2003 winner of the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award for Communications Design, Greenberg has been a pioneer in the advertising and design communications industry for four decades. He is also a noted collector of art and design, from office equipment by Dieter Rams and Eadweard Muybridge photographs to Outsider Art and ancient Buddhist sculpture. His industrial design collection, lining the walls at R/GA’s New York City office, traces the advancement of technology.
about cooper Hewitt, smithsonian design museum
Founded in 1897, Cooper Hewitt is the only museum in the United States devoted exclusively to historic and contemporary design. Housed in the renovated and restored Carnegie Mansion, Cooper Hewitt showcases one of the most diverse and comprehensive collections of design works in existence. The museum’s restoration, modernization and expansion have won numerous awards and honors, including a Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award from the New York Landmarks Conservancy, a Gold Pencil Award for Best in Responsive Environments and LEED Silver certification. Cooper Hewitt offers a full range of interactive capabilities and immersive creative experiences, including the Cooper Hewitt Pen that allows visitors to “collect” and “save” objects from around the galleries, the opportunity to explore the collection digitally on ultra-high-definition touch-screen tables, and draw and project their own wallpaper designs in the Immersion Room.
Cooper Hewitt is located at 2 East 91st Street at Fifth Avenue in New York City. Hours are Sunday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. The Arthur Ross Terrace and Garden, accessible without an admissions ticket, opens at 8 a.m., Monday through Friday. The Tarallucci e Vino café is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The museum is closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Public transit routes include the Lexington Avenue 4, 5 and 6 subways (86th or 96th Street stations), the Second Avenue Q subway (96th Street station), and the Fifth and Madison Avenue buses. Adult admission, $16 in advance via tickets.cooperhewitt.org, $18 at door; seniors, $10 in advance via tickets.cooperhewitt.org, $12 at door; students, $7 in advance via tickets.cooperhewitt.org, $9 at door. Cooper Hewitt members and children younger than age 18 are admitted free. Pay What You Wish every Saturday, 6 to 9 p.m. The museum is fully accessible.
For further information, call (212) 849-8400, visit Cooper Hewitt’s website at www.cooperhewitt.org and follow the museum on twitter.com/cooperhewitt, facebook.com/cooperhewitt and Instagram.com/cooperhewitt.