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New York Exhibition Examines Trends, Impact of Design - 2003-07-23

Your presence at home can produce beautiful feelings if you have the "Cherry Blossom" digital rendering. This are just one of the concept on display at an exhibition in New York City that features trends in contemporary American design.

The exhibition, Inside Design Now, examines current and future trends in the technological innovations and cultural impact of design in the United States.

Ellen Lupton, one of the four curators of the exhibition, says the designers and their projects were selected on a wide range of criteria. "We are looking for people who are innovative. People who are leading others who are being copied, who are setting a trend, who are creating ideas that are appreciated in the field. We are looking for very young people as well as very established people. We are looking for design and various media. So that everything from a letterform to a building, to a landscape. We are trying to look at design that actually finds its way in the people's everyday lives, as well as very rare and special things that you wouldn't normally ever get to see," she says.

The second design Triennial at the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum features works related to interiors, architecture, graphic design, new media, and fashion. More than 300 items, such as models, objects, photographs, labels and tools are part of the show.

The Cherry Blossom is a digital rendering. It consists of a semicylindrical screen placed next to a spiral staircase. When a person starts walking up the stairs, the cherry blossom flowers start moving up along the screen.

The Cherry Blossom was designed by Japanese-born Masamichi Udagawa and Austrian-born Sigi Moeslinger, a team known as Antenna Design. Sigi Moeslinger says the Cherry Blossom changes people's perception of environment. "People realize that it is their presence that is activating space. [What] we are trying to suggest to people is that it is their movement, their presence that is sort of a source of beauty. So that when people are there, spring comes, and beautiful things happen. And every step, every action they take on the staircase they sort of generate this birth of blossoms."

Co-designer Masamichi Udagawa, a native of Japan, says cherry blossoms have a symbolic importance in Japanese culture. "The cherry is not only a symbol of life, but also a belief to house God when spring comes."

Curator Ellen Lupton explains the exhibition features design works across all media without breaking them down into separate categories. "The exhibition is organized so that you can see architecture next to graphics, next to furniture, next to fashion, because that's how we live. We don't have a part of our house that has furniture in it, and a different part of it that has clothing in it. All the things mix together," she says. "Little objects, big objects, the environment, the landscape, it's all connected."

The reaction from visitors is mixed. Maggie from New York City, doesn't like the way the exhibit is organized. "A little too all over the place. Sort of a little lacking in focus. Some of the stuff I think is really exciting," she says.

Another local visitor, Stephanie, likes the exhibitions variety, but is a little disappointed by the clothes featured. "I didn't care for the clothing this time very much. It's deconstructed, taken apart and then put back together again. But it's nothing I ever wear," she says.

Afschin Hagani, who owns a chain of fashion stores in New York State, is very much attracted to the clothes created by fashion designer, Toledo. "This is all very intriguing. Isabel Toledo I know for many years and I have been following their work. And just to see the work being featured in the museum is brilliant. These are clothes that actually my friends wear. So, to be able to see these is very interesting."

Lilo Coons, another New Yorker, has a very strong interest in geometric figures in interior designs. "It's unique and is enlightening. I just walked into this room, because I am interested in geometric design. So just walked up the stairs and walked into this room."

Curator Ellen Lupton says thousands of designers, artists, and architects submitted their works for the second Triennial, giving her a head start on planning the third.