This summer Design for a Living World, the landmark exhibition presented by the Nature Conservancy and designed by Pentagram’s Abbott Miller, has traveled to the Field Museum in Chicago, where it remains on view through November 13.
Design for a Living World was co-curated by Miller and Ellen Lupton, curator of contemporary design at Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, where the show debuted in 2009. The exhibition commissioned 10 designers from the fields of fashion, product and industrial design to develop new uses for sustainably grown and harvested materials from a specific place where the Conservancy works. The participating designers include Yves Béhar, Stephen Burks, Hella Jongerius, Maya Lin, Christien Meindertsma, Isaac Mizrahi, Ted Muehling, Paulina Reyes from Kate Spade, Ezri Tarazi and Miller himself. Locations include endangered ecosystems in Australia, Micronesia, China, Mexico, Costa Rica, Bolivia, Alaska, Idaho and Maine. The resulting designs demonstrate that by choosing sustainable materials, designers can actively contribute to the advancement of a global conservation ethic.
In addition to co-curating and participating in the exhibition, Miller and his team at Pentagram designed the exhibition and its companion book and website. The exhibition is designed to travel and the modular scheme originally installed at Cooper-Hewitt’s Carnegie Mansion in New York has been adapted for the Field Museum. The installation includes a new piece by Meindertsma inspired by the Conservancy’s Nachusa Grasslands in northern Illinois.
Quick Link: Design for a Living World on PRI’s The World
Last week Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum celebrated the opening of its new exhibition Design for a Living World. Initiated and supported by The Nature Conservancy and co-curated by Abbott Miller and Ellen Lupton, the exhibition commissioned 10 designers from the fields of fashion, product and industrial design to each work with a sustainably grown and harvested material from an endangered eco-system where the Conservancy works. The participating designers include Yves Béhar, Stephen Burks, Hella Jongerius, Maya Lin, Christien Meindertsma, Isaac Mizrahi, Ted Muehling, Paulina Reyes from Kate Spade, Ezri Tarazi and Miller himself. Many of the designers were on hand for the opening galas, sharing news of their travels and projects firsthand with guests.
Abbott Miller’s exhibition design documents the participating designers’ creative process and explorations as much as it promotes the results, capturing the sense of discovery—what is it like to work with a material you’ve never used before—and the generation of ideas for developing a useful object. The exhibition presents this in an engaging and accessible way that promotes the idea that designers and consumers can actively participate in the advancement of a global conservation ethic.
Miller and his team also designed the exhibition catalogue and website and designed one of its featured projects, a chair made of FSC-certified plywood that inspired the approach to the exhibition design and casework.