New York's Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has promoted its influential architecture and design curator, Paola Antonelli, to senior curator, a signal that design matters more than ever in the modern pantheon.

Paola Antonelli

Paola Antonelli

“She has put MoMA and design on the map in ways it hadn't been in 30 years, since Emilio Ambasz,” says Barry Bergdoll, Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design. Since arriving at MoMA in 1994, Antonelli has advocated relentlessly for good design while generating such epic exhibitions as “Workspheres” (2001) and “Safe: Design Takes on Risk” (2005). She has stretched conventional definitions of design to address spatial concepts, social politics, and human behavior. The exhibition that opens Feb. 24, “Design and the Elastic Mind,” will explore how design mediates between humans and changes in the pace and scale of everyday life.

Antonelli, who trained as an architect in Italy, has involved architects at every opportunity (Greg Lynn and Aranda/Lasch are in the new show). “Architecture and design, now more than ever, are joined at the hip,” she says, “or at the heart and brain.”