Acquired! A Conversation on Collecting

This panel discussion explores the ways in which collections–both personal and institutional–express value systems, mark cultural shifts, and provide frameworks for organizing, understanding, and critiquing complex ideas as they are expressed by objects. Organized in conjunction with the exhibition, Acquired! Shaping the National Design Collection, this program gathers experts from a range of collecting roles to discuss how and why they collect.  

This program is held in celebration of the NYCxDesign festival, taking place May 16-23.

SPEAKERS 

Moderator: Dung Ngo [pronounced YUNG NO] is the founder and editor-in-chief of AUGUST, a biannual print journal on travel and design. He was the creative director and senior architecture & design editor at Rizzoli International Publications in New York from 2006 to 2015. He is the author of several books, including Bent Ply, a history of 20th century plywood furniture, and the forthcoming Knife Fork Spoon, a history of modernist cutlery design. Ngo was the chair of Cooper Hewitt’s National Design Awards jury in 2023. 

black and white photograph of Alexandra Cunningham Cameron, curator of contemporary design at Cooper Hewitt. She is seated at a table with her arms folded in front of her. She wears a white turtleneck.Alexandra Cunningham Cameron is curator of contemporary design and Hintz Secretarial Scholar at Cooper Hewitt. She organized the award-winning “Willi Smith: Street Couture” exhibition in 2020 and British-Nigerian designer Duro Olowu’s “Selects” in 2022. Cameron has brought cross-disciplinary works by Tschabalala Self, Dondi White, Amanda Williams, Martha Goddard and others into Cooper Hewitt’s permanent collection while co-chairing the museum’s Responsive Collecting Initiative. Formerly an independent curator, editor in chief of the arts journal The Miami Rail and creative director of the Design Miami/fairs, Cameron has initiated a wide range of publications and programs as well as exhibitions and public works with artists and designers such as Aranda\Lasch and Terrol Dew Johnson, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, Yona Friedman, Dozie Kanu, Philippe Malouin and Muller van Severen. 

Chris Fralic is board partner at First Round Capital, a seed-stage technology venture capital firm, where he led their investments in Roblox, Ring, Warby Parker, and dozens of other startups. Fralic has almost 40 years of technology industry experience, from the early days of the personal computer industry, to helping launch TEDTalks, to early internet companies like Half.com and eBay. He is an executive producer of documentaries, including “Uncropped” and “Recollections,” and is an avid vintage technology collector. He serves on the board of the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, and regularly guest lectures at universities, including Yale, Wharton, and his alma mater Villanova. Fralic joined Cooper Hewitt’s Board of Trustees in 2024.

Iris Moon is Associate Curator in the European Sculpture and Decorative Arts Department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she is responsible for European ceramics and glass. At the Met, she is currently planning an exhibition on Chinoiserie that will open in 2025. Her new book, Melancholy Wedgwood, was published in 2024 with MIT Press. She is the author of Luxury after the Terror, and co-editor with Richard Taws of Time, Media, and Visuality in Post-Revolutionary France. In addition to curatorial work, she teaches at Cooper Union.  

Patrick Parrish received his BFA in photography from Florida State University and his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is the eye behind the popular blog and Instagram feed MONDOBLOGO and is known for exhibiting work by unusual, new, and sometimes overlooked designers and artists of the 20th and 21st century at his NYC galleries for nearly 25 years. He produced Carl Auböck: The Workshop, a monograph on one of his favorite designers in 2013, and authored The Hunt: Navigating the Worlds of Art & Design  in 2018. In 2022, Parrish opened The Secret Watch Shop, the professional culmination of more than 20 years of collecting watches and has continued to grow this venture at his new studio space in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. He is a curator, collector, husband, and father who is always on the hunt for what’s new. 

ABOUT THE PROGRAM 

  • Program Length: 90 minutes
  • Interactivity Level: Low to medium
  • Intended Audience: People curious about design, the history of collecting, museums, cultural history, and design history.
  • Museum admission is not included in ticket price.                                                                                           

ACCESSIBILITY 

  • Location: This program will take place in person in the Lecture Room at Cooper Hewitt (2 East 91st Street, New York, NY). The Lecture Room is on the ground floor of the museum and fully wheelchair accessible. There is an accessible restroom on the ground floor, accessible via elevator. Read more about accessibility at Cooper Hewitt.
  • What to Expect: This program will include an illustrated presentation with slides by the speaker followed by a moderated conversation and an audience Q&A. The program will be recorded and available on Cooper Hewitt’s YouTube channel.
  • Accommodations: The program includes live CART captioning.
  • For general questions, please email us at CHEducation@si.edu. If we can provide additional accessibility services or accommodations to support your participation in this program, email us or let us know when registering. Please make your accommodation request as far in advance as possible—preferably at least one week before the program date when possible. 

HEALTH & SAFETY MEASURES 

Please visit Cooper Hewitt’s Plan Your Visit page for up-to-date information on health and safety guidelines. 

SUPPORT 

Generous support for Acquired! Shaping the National Design Collection  is provided by Cooper Hewitt’s Collections Committee and by the Lily Auchincloss Foundation.