At Cooper Hewitt, two thought-provoking shows explore the concept of humanitarian design.
Humane scale: HOK’s Mural Pavilion turns Harlem Hospital into a reflection of its neighborhood.
As concern for the environment and sustainability deepens, Cooper Hewitt is offering two exhibitions, says museum director Caroline Baumann, that “empower visitors to see themselves as designers of ideas, strategies, and solutions that improve our daily lives.”
For “By the People: Designing a Better America” (through February 20, 2017), curator Cynthia E. Smith traveled across the country in search of projects that encourage equitable communities. New York is represented by design firm HOK’s brilliant Mural Pavilion for Harlem Hospital; the six-story-high glass façade “comes alive at night,” she says, displaying replicas of rediscovered murals from the 1930s—the first major WPA commissions awarded to African-Americans.
“Scraps: Fashion, Textiles, and Creative Reuse” (through April 16, 2017) displays the work of three fashion designers who “address textile waste at its source,” says Baumann. Reiko Sudo, of textile design company Nuno, salvages discarded bits of silk cocoons—typically fed to animals—for use in knit and handwoven fabrics. Luisa Cevese, founder of design studio Riedizioni, and Christina Kim, founder of fashion brand Dosa, repurpose fabric remnants into tabletop products and clothing, respectively. In doing so, note curators Susan Brown and Matilda McQuaid, the three designers “elevate the humble scrap to an exquisite statement of sustainable design.” 2 E. 91st St., 212-849-8400