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August 12, 2011

House Proud

Check out stunning pieces from the High Museum’s permanent collection of contemporary design thru Aug. 21 at “Modern by Design”

By Nancy Staab

A roster of the most cutting-edge international designers are on display from the High Museum’s permanent collection. Don’t miss Joris Laarman’s climbing wall system/ornate wall decoration or a sleekly aerodynamic tea service by Pritzker Prize winning architect Zaha Hadid—plus sensuous seating from industrial designer Ron Arad.










Ettore Sottsass Jr.

"Italian architect-designer Ettore Sottsass’s philosophy was that design should enrich the human condition through color, form, and personal experience."




Sure, the MoMA has brought lots of its playful Italian designs –pill capsule-shaped lights and cherry red inflatable Blow chairs—out to play for the special Modern by Design exhibit at the High. But don’t miss the equally contempo-fab objects from the High’s growing, permanent collection of contemporary design works, also in the house and on show now as a companion installation to the Modern by Design” through August 21.

Curator Sarah Schleunning. Curator Sarah Schleunning.

From an aerodynamic tea set by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Zaha Hadid that looks ready for take-off--to the sensuous aluminum curves of Ron Arad’s Bio-Void I Chair (2006)---these works from the High’s  permanent contemporary design collection give the cold shoulder to the motion that contemporary design is chilly and soulless. Instead, the third floor exhibit positively vibrates with color, shapes, light shows and seductive, outrageously innovative, and often playful forms.

See below for some of these works of wonder, plus the High Museum’s brand new curator of decorative arts and design Sarah Schleunning (previously of Wolfsonian Museum, with a Masters from The Cooper-Hewitt  National Design Museum in conjunction with Parsons School of Design and a BA from Cornell University) dispenses enlightening comments on each of these fab objects.




Zaha Hadid

"This Coffee and Tea Service mirrors her signature design in its fluid, revolutionary form. This set—a tray, sugar bowl, milk jug, teapot, and coffeepot—employs unexpected forms for these very traditional objects. The coffeepot is the central, sleek tower and is nested underneath the teapot, a flat orb-like piece. The two smaller pieces hold milk and sugar."




Johanna Grawunder

"American Johanna Grawunder’s striking designs stage lively conversations on color, reflection, and uncomplicated forms."





FRONT Design

"The Swedish design collective FRONT’s imaginative, playful works address the process of creation, often include an element of performance, and question the conventional role of the product designer in today’s world. Their Sketch Furniture series captures the dynamic quality of freehand drawings by using computer-aided design (CAD) technology. Sketching the design in the air, the gestures are recorded by cameras and mapped as a 3-D digital model. Through rapid prototyping (RP), the data is sent to a 3-D printer, building the form layer by layer until a full-scale design is realized directly from the sketch."





Ron Arad

"One of today’s most influential contemporary designers, London-based Ron Arad is known for his innovative architecture, industrial design, limited-edition studio pieces, and for blurring the lines between art and design. This sculptural, futuristic rocking chair uses industrial technology and plays with volume. The reflective sides are made from an aluminum alloy blown into a mold using an aerospace industry air pressure technique. The result is a beautiful interplay between the continuous curved body and the hollow spaces—a striking form that triumphs over pure functionality."



Joris Laarman

"Dutch designer Joris Laarman is at the forefront of contemporary design with conceptual, experimental creations, exploring scientific boundaries in pursuit of a new design future. An earlier work, Ivy is simultaneously a functional, adventurous mode of transport and elegant architectural décor."





Recently, the High also scooped up a second Anish Kapoor work, “Untitled” (2009). This large-scale, mirror polished steel sculpture by the Turner Prize-winning British artist, will pair rather nicely with the artist’s ovoid, cobalt blue “Pot for Her” already in the permanent holdings. High curator or contemporary art Michael Rooks calls "Pot for Her"  "one of the most significant works of contemporary art in the museum," one that "transcends the purely physical in a way that "Kapoor once described as 'alchemical'--the transformation of common materials into something extraordinary."

We look forward to Rooks’ and  Schleuning’s contributions to the High’s contemporary cache and, with recent acquisitions, including Ettore Sottsass’s “Superbox” (1968) and Joris Laarman’s “Bone” armchair (2008) already in the coffers, contemporary works will take their rightful place alongside the High’s superb Old Masters.

"Pot for Her" by Anish Kapoor.