October 10, 2012
The year is 1990. The place is the venerable Cooper-Hewitt Museum, New York. The exhibition is the historically insignificant, yet unbelievably time-stamped “Mondo Materialis”, an exploration of new, relevant, and trending materials for the design trades, organized and executed by the Steelcase Design Partnership. 125 design and architecture firms contributed square collages of raw materials, ranging from materials science tech-demos to self-aggrandizing calling-card mood boards, or even snide “subversive” commentary. The images included here were scanned from the exhibition catalog, titled “Mondo Materialis: Materials and Ideas for the Future”, published concurrently. The book itself is a glossy oversized tome, 12″ square, filled with photographs of every entry, the material components of each thoroughly cataloged, alongside the occasional pull quote. While a few stood out as big-timers (Ross Lovegrove, Michele deLucchi, George Sowden, Dakota Jackson, and Andrea Branzi), the most aesthetically cohesive and generally NEXT LEVEL contributions came from virtual unknowns. The photos below were among my favorites.
The blatant hi/lo conceptuality/commerciality of the pieces, along with the sort of “real-world cyber-collage” aesthetics of the vast majority is super-inspirational, when detached from its trade-show roots. With the ‘Net Art world’s current re-contextualizing of marketing photography/design techniques, appreciation of HD material simulacra, and the camouflaged avant-gardisms of commercial art in genera, this is an especially scintillating collection. #Relevant.
Peep the whole set HERE