Nature—Cooper Hewitt Triennial is a collaboration of projects that demonstrate how designers are collaborating with scientists, engineers, environmentalists, academics and other stakeholders, culminating in an exhibition that looks to design’s ability to address critical issues surrounding nature, climate and the environment.
Winner- Global Future Design Awards 2020
Firm | Studio Joseph
Architect/Designer | Wendy Evans Joseph
Category | Pop-Ups & Temporary
Team | Wendy Evans Joseph, José-Luis Vidalón, Monica Coghlan, Shuo Yang
Country |United States
Photographer/Copyright | ©Studio Joseph
Although precisely fitting the curatorial narrative, the sixty-two international design teams’ featured prototypes, consumer products, immersive installations, and architectural constructions were vastly different in scale and disposition. Coupled with the backdrop of the museum’s conspicuous, historic shell, the visual disparity between items posed a challenge in creating a holistic exhibition experience. Rather than having the objects isolated from the building’s architecture, the solution is an activation of the space through organic, innovative, and flexible design. The display system molds into the framework of the building, creating a conceptual oozing of nature from the walls of the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, which flows and fuses with the building.
The main display system is composed of two main elements, an aluminum frame system and a series of curvilinear platforms. The organic structure of the platforms allows for objects to group within one of the show’s seven nature sub-categories—facilitating, augmenting, nurturing, salvaging, remediating, understanding, and simulating nature—while creating a seamless “amoeba” that winds its way through space, defining paths for visitor circulation. The installation features custom-designed, 3D printed pod-like sculptures that emerge from the walls in varying sizes and depths. Theses “pods” pair with graphic texts that provide an introduction into each curatorial section and signify nature’s ability to grow, morph and adapt to the forces at play.
To further extend the display concept of growth and mutation from the building within, on the exhibition’s ground floor where the museum features dark wood paneling and flooring with pronounced moldings, the design uses a cool, dark gray palette. The rounded wall pieces fit the historic windows and curve down, becoming horizontal plinths. Upstairs within the modern galleries, the installation follows the crisp white color palette with media projecting onto translucent screens, seamlessly integrating the show’s designs into the building.