Museum piece: a show at the Cooper Hewitt explores design and technology

Museum piece: a show at the Cooper Hewitt explores design and technology

The point where design and technology meet has been a constant source of fascination for designers; it is also creative agency R/GA’s specialty. The company’s expertise in weaving creativity with technological innovation is well established, with projects for Samsung, Google and Airbnb under the company’s belt. Now, R/GA founder Bob Greenberg has been invited by the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum to curate a dedicated exhibition on the topic in New York, opening this month.

‘Technology has always been a driving force for change, constantly altering behaviour, most importantly how we interact with one another’, says Greenberg. ‘In the last five years, thanks to the internet, mobile, and connected devices, the way we work and live has changed at a pace never seen before. If designers don’t take into account how people currently live and behave, the spaces they design will begin to lack a level of functionality, and as a result lose relevance.’

So, drawing on his extensive experience and private collection of tech-inspired objects, as well as looking at the museum’s vast archive, Greenberg put together a fascinating array of pieces designed by seminal figures in the field, such as Dieter Rams and Mario Bellini. Iconic items, such as the Motorola brick phone and the very first iPhone, are also represented.

The show, designed by Toshiko Mori, acknowledges technology as a driving force for change, and is arranged in four groupings: ‘Connected Devices’, which focuses on communications, ‘Disruptive Innovations’, which highlights the industry’s game changers, ‘Measurement and Calculation’, which addresses computation, and ‘Dieter Rams Ten Principles for Good Design’, where the curator explores the iconic designer’s key themes.

As to what the future holds? ‘The challenge for design is the same as it has always been – simplicity’, says Greenberg. ‘But in our connected age, simplicity has never been so complicated. The connected devices, machine learning, AI, AR, all of these things are incredibly complex. The ones that will be the most successful –  and by that I mean the ones that have the biggest impact on our lives – are the ones designed with the simplest and most intuitive interfaces and experiences. Reducing the complex to the intuitive – that will always be greatest challenge for design.’

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