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building
Channeling Nature by Design
April 22, 2017 - July 16, 2017
building
Channeling Nature by Design
April 22, 2017 - July 16, 2017
Our ever-changing relationship to nature as seen through the eyes of great designers

From the botanical wallpaper of William Morris to the streamlined cutlery of Zaha Hadid, design has always found inspiration in nature. This exhibition examines how designers of handmade and industrial objects—including furniture, pottery, kitchenware, and even a 3-D printed neckpiece—have responded to the beauty and fragility of the natural world.

By bringing together nature-inspired objects from the past century and a half—and examining the forces that shaped them—this exhibition offers a fresh look at the power of design.


Design Reform Movements:
Nature and the Anxiety of Industry

The Arts and Crafts movement that flourished in the late 1800s saw nature as a refuge from industrialization. Designers like William Morris and Frank Lloyd Wright aimed to bring the beauty of the natural world into everyday life. Nature was also a key theme for Art Nouveau around the turn of the century. Designers working in this more unruly and animated style drew inspiration from the sciences, especially botany, deep-sea zoology, and microscopy, as well as art theory and psychology.

Browse works >>


Interwar and Postwar Design:
Abstract Forms and Natural Appeal

As the machine age hit its stride, artists celebrated the possibilities of industry. At the same time, some working in the Art Deco style evoked a feeling of luxurious modernity through geometric shapes of flora and fauna. After World War II, industrial designers modeled “organic” forms to create everyday objects sensitive to the needs of the human body. A countercurrent of craftspeople, though, focused on the ecological impact of mass production and argued for a naturalistic approach guided by the values of the Arts and Crafts movement.

Browse works >>


Contemporary Design:
Biomorphism, Sustainability, and Digital Technology

In the last few decades, Marc Newson, Zaha Hadid, Doug Bucci, and others have grappled with what nature means in our tech-driven world through varied approaches. Some designers allude to a loose concept of the organic through playful forms that suggest living organisms, while others emphasize the responsible use of materials and energy. More recently, artists have taken advantage of 3-D printing and computer algorithms to create works rooted in the principles of nature.

Browse works >>


Curator

Colin Fanning, Curatorial Fellow in European Decorative Arts and Sculpture

Location

Collab Gallery, first floor, Perelman Building

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