Antiques of the Future
Design Center of Philadelphia University
Through June 25
A collection of objects and a book by their owner, Lisa Roberts, forms the basis for this curated examination of contemporary household goods, many of them architect-designed. More than 100 familiar domestic icons, from Ty Nant's spiraling plastic water bottle to Frank Gehry's bentwood chairs for Knoll, show how necessary objects and furnishings can rise to the level of artifacts. When all the dots are connected, the trend to design excellence can be traced back to 1985, when Michael Graves, pre-Target, put a small red bird on the spout of a teakettle commissioned by the Alessi tableware company. Design archivists will remember that the kettle, a fixture in trophy kitchens of the era, was preceded by a sterling-silver tea and coffee service, which Graves and other architects were asked to design for a limited-edition Alessi extravagance. The silver versions survive in museums and among well-heeled private collectors. Roberts' collection is more accessible, and it shows that functional objects can provide delight every day.
Lawndale Art Center
May 18–June 16
The fifth annual exhibition of completed and unrealized designs for Houston, sponsored by the Rice Design Alliance and Lawndale Art Center.
Surreal Things: Surrealism and Design
Victoria & Albert Museum
Through July 22
Architecture, design, and the decorative arts, as seen through the prism of the 20th century's most bizarre arts movement.
NEW HAVEN, CONN.
Responding to Kahn: A Sculptural Conversation
Yale University Art Gallery
Through July 8
Students and interns have gathered postwar sculpture from the collection to draw the connections between modern art and architecture—in this case, the renovated 1953 Louis Kahn masterpiece, which reopened last December after a $44 million rehab accomplished by Polshek Partnership Architects.
Barcelona and Modernity: Gaudí to Dalí
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Through June 3
This exhibition brings together work by Barcelona artists, architects, and designers between 1888, the year of the Barcelona Universal Exposition, and 1939, when the Fascist regime of Francisco Franco put a lid on the heady creativity that produced Antoni Gaudí and Salvador Dalí in this center of radical thought.
Bruno Mathsson: Architect and Designer
Bard Graduate Center
Through June 10
A leading figure in Swedish modernism, Mathsson (1907–1988) designed sensuous furniture and environmentally sensitive buildings. His special blend of ergonomics and aesthetics can be seen in graceful woven chairs on the catalog cover. This traveling exhibition made its debut at the Bard Graduate Center in March and will continue on to Seattle's Swedish Cultural Center this summer.
Summer of Love: Art of the Psychedelic Era
Whitney Museum of American Art
May 24–September 16
This touring show from Europe recalls the utopian spirit of 1967, when artists, filmmakers, and designers immersed themselves in counterculture aesthetics and emotions. From the era, Vernon Panton's crawl-in furniture landscapes present a formal challenge to the corporate architecture of the day.
Open House: Architecture and Technology for Intelligent Living
Art Center College of Design
Through July 1
When 15 architects from nine countries are asked to rethink shelter for the next 25 years, the single-family box becomes a desert dune and apartments take on life as cells in a topiarylike tower commune. The exhibition was curated by the Vitra Design Museum in Germany.
Le Corbusier: Art and Architecture—A Life of Creativity
Mori Art Museum
May 26–September 24
Japan's passion for all things modern includes a reverence for Le Corbusier, the founding father of European modern architecture. With help from Pritzker Architecture Prize winners Fumihiko Maki and Tadao Ando as well as the Fondation Le Corbusier, the 120th anniversary of Le Corbusier's birth will be honored with art and architecture, including walk-in reproductions of Le Corbusier's studio, a two-story apartment from his Unite project in Marseille, and a small wooden hut he built at Cap Martin in the south of France, the architect's final home.
America's Favorite Architecture
Through July 13
Which buildings inspire public affection? Don't look for undulating waves of titanium. The AIA polled the citizenry for the 150 “best” works of architecture, in honor of the institute's anniversary. The populist exercise, which named the Empire State Building No. 1, has now become an exhibition, debuting in Washington, D.C., and replicated for the AIA's annual meeting in San Antonio May 3–5.
Furniture Meets Its Maker
May 12–Aug. 12
Henry Francis du Pont's bastion of 18th and 19th century American decorative arts opens the door to Gord Peteran, a contemporary furniture designer from Toronto. The 25-year retrospective includes a table that disassembles into its own carrying case.
George Yu Architects EMERGENT/Tom Wiscombe + Buro Happold: The Dragonfly
May 18–July 8
In keeping with its mission to exhibit experimental works by contemporary architects, the SCI-Arc gallery simultaneously presents two shows on West Coast stimulators. George Yu Architects shares the process of transforming a retail space in a Pasadena historic building into a Honda car-design studio; using the digital prototyping tools that car designers use, the architects created a custom-fabricated wall system of 99 acrylic panels in nine different shapes. EMERGENT (whose angular design for the Czech national library is shown above) and engineering firm Buro Happold team up with a CNC routing machine to create a site-specific installation exploring the dragonfly wing–like relationship between structure and form.
Design for the Other 90%
Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum
May 4–September 23
The leading edge of 21st century design belongs to the humanitarians, those designers and architects who use their skills to assist the poor and needy by pro bono work at home and across the globe. The Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum is devoting its summer exhibition to an exploration of socially responsible design that strives to improve the lives of the one person in seven who survives on less than $1 a day. Innovations chosen by curator Cynthia E. Smith include the LifeStraw, which can purify water almost anywhere, and Nicholas Negroponte's One Laptop per Child project (pictured at left), which hopes to bring the poor and disenfranchised children of the world online. Architects more often are associated with clients in the richest 10 percent alluded to in the exhibition's title. But they are present at the Cooper-Hewitt's assessment of good works. Sheila Kennedy devised a portable lamp made by women in Mexico who weave LED lights into their traditional textiles. The Katrina Furniture Project of Sergio Palleroni, visiting professor at the Center for Sustainable Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin, proposes to reuse materials salvaged from the devastation of New Orleans, not only to be ecologically responsible, but to create jobs while turning out chairs and tables that serve as small memorials to human resilience.