Acconci Studio, Brooklyn, NY. A Skate Park that Glides over the Land and Drops into the Sea, San Jan, PR, 2006. [source]
Orlando Pita, New York, NY. Orlando Pita styling model Lily Donaldson, “Vogue,” January 2005. [source]
Design exhibitions are generally crowdpleasers, and the newly opened National Design Triennial at the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston — with its interactive virtual soldier, starchitect models and Submarine (yes, capitalized) that’s designed to swim with dolphins — is a design show that trumps the usual gadget-heavy, geewhiz factor of these sorts of exhibitions.
To be fair, this is not a groundbreaking show. Many included designs have already received much attention: Clear Blue Hawaii’s see-through kayak (so 90’s), the ubiquitous Apple iPod (why bother?), WowWee’s Robosapien humanoid toy robot (yawn) and a Santiago Calatrava bridge model (brilliant and inspiring but yesterday’s news all the same). There is something about the word triennial that increases expectations.
That said, there are many works that will stop you in your tracks: like the automatically unfolding tent, Kimono-inspired clothing and midcentury cum postmodern furniture. Together with an impressive exhibition strategy of tight hallways hosting surprises at multiple heights, this exhibition is provocative and playful and worth even the hefty $17 admission price. Be smart, though, and come on a free Thursday for a sublime afternoon.
Design Life Now: National Design Triennial
September 28 -January 6
The Institute of Contemporary Art Boston