Why Design Now? and The Expectation of Innovation
The medium is the message is a phrase coined by Marshall McLuhan meaning that the form of a medium embeds itself in the message, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived. Wikipedia
From improving access to safe drinking water for underserved people, generating renewable energy through sun and ocean waves, and offering low-cost corrective eyewear to underserved patients to proposing a post-petroleum urban utopia—Why Design Now? is chalk-full of big ideas that address big problems. These products, prototypes, buildings, landscapes, messages, and more address social and environmental challenges in contemporary society.
So why am I disappointed? These innovative ideas are presented in outdated formats that can’t properly convey the concept, let alone importance of the work. The way a Monet is displayed at the Met isn’t appropriate for any of the work in this exhibition.
New media needs new media. An object that’s important for its dynamic and adaptive nature isn’t going to be well-received in a static format. The power of a communication tool (such as twitter) won’t be ‘communicated’ on a small (non-interactive) screen. I’ll spare you the infinite examples of how they flunked presentation and just say that for an exhibition on innovation and contemporary culture, I expected a presentation format that conveyed this mentality.
When it comes to showing noteworthy design: show why it’s awesome; show how it works. If standard museum layouts don’t do the trick, try something new. It’s the most sustainable exhibition in the museum’s history, according to the website. But it’s not teaching and inspiring in the way that it should.
** originally posted on the Designer Pages blog