Rough Cut: Design Takes a Sharp Edge / A Selection of bold design from THE MoMA’s collection

The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Rough Cut: Design Takes a Sharp Edge
Exhibition : November 26, 2008 > Ongoing

The Philip Johnson Architecture and Design Galleries

The Museum of Modern Art presents Rough Cut: Design Takes a Sharp Edge, an installation in The Philip Johnson Architecture and Design Galleries on the third floor that showcases 98 objects in the Museum’s collection whose impact is due not to their graceful formal qualities but to their designers’ radical engagement with meaning and emotion. The selection of works range from striking posters to chairs, and from videos to vehicles designed for harsh terrains and unforgiving circumstances.

Konstantin Grcic


Konstantin Grcic (German, born 1965)
MYTO chair. 2007
BASF Ultradur High Speed plastic, 32 5/16 x 20 1/2 x 20 7/8″ (82 x 52 x 53 cm)
Manufactured by Plank Collezioni Srl, Italy (2008)
Gift of the manufacturer
© All rights reserved

According to the curators: “Good design is not always pretty, but when it is good, it is undeniably powerful, meaningful, and beautiful. It is a common mistake to equate design with decoration and embellishment, but design is not simply a matter of giving a pleasing form to a functional object.”

Some of the objects in the exhibition bare it all, dispensing with surface treatments to expose the processes of their creation, like Nendo’s Cabbage Chair (2007). Others, such as Konstantin Grcic’s MYTO chair (2007), which is compact, stackable, suitable for in and outdoor use, and entirely recyclable, distill design down to its strongest expression while pushing materials to the limit. Some of these objects are blunt and unadorned because they must be easy to use in an emergency, for instance, the Lifestat Emergency Pocket Airway (1970) by Ronald J. French. Others defy authority and challenge reality, conveying a view of the world that, although positive and hopeful, may at first be disquieting, as seen in The Priscila Huggable Atomic Mushroom (2004) by Dunne and Raby. Some objects are outright aggressive, even brutal; for example, those whose job is to deliver a loud and clear message with urgency, such as the Guardian Angel Handbag (2002), designed by Carolien Vlieger and Hein van Dam, which features the outline of a knife on the outside of the bag, creating a three-dimensional illusion that a knife is actually being carried in the bag, with the intent to make the wearer feel secure against thieves. In graphic design, toughness can be a manifestation of the idea the designer wishes to communicate, as in the poster Racism (1993) by James Victore, a response to the riots between Hasidic Jews and African Americans in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, in summer 1993. Through this straightforward depiction of the word racism eating itself, the designer brings attention to its destructive essence.

Carolien Vlieger


Carolien Vlieger (Dutch, born 1975) and Hein van Dam (Dutch, born 1964) of Vlieger & Vandam (The Netherlands, est. 2004)
Guardian Angel handbag. 2002
Leather and wool felt, 13 x 10 x 3″ (33 x 26 x 8 cm)
Manufactured by Vlieger & Vandam, The Netherlands (2004)
Gift of Vlieger & Vandam
© All rights reserved

Jordi Canudas


Jordi Canudas (Spanish, born 1975)
Less Lamp, 2007
Plaster, 9 13/16 x 7 7/8″ (25 x 20 cm)
Manufactured by Metalarte, Spain 2008
Gift of the designer
© All rights reserved

Ralph Borland


Ralph Borland (South African, born 1974)
Suited for Subversion Prototype. 2002
Nylon-reinforced PVC, padding, speaker, and pulse reader, 47 1/4 x 31 1/2 x 23 5/8” (120 x 80 x 60 cm)
Fund for the Twenty-First Century
© All rights reserved

Design can express values that go well beyond form and function. Some objects are designed to provoke strong emotions, such as Matthias Megyeri’s Sweet Dreams Security series (2003-04), which includes iron railings with bunny rabbits for posts, and Hill Jephson Robb’s Cries and Whispers cocoon (2003), a womblike structure made of felt that is intended to restore a child’s feeling of security. Others, including Noam Toran’s video Desire Management (2004-06), formulate human needs and aspirations for the future, while the Architecture and Justice from the Million Dollar Blocks project (2006), recently seen in the exhibition Design and the Elastic Mind, exists to denounce the world’s stark realities. Installed near the elevators are timely examples of past and present “protest by design,” including recorded performances by Ant Farm and Graffiti Research Lab.

James Powderly (American, born 1976), Evan Roth (American, born 1978), and Theo Watson (British, born 1981)
Graffiti Research Lab (USA, est. 2006)


James Powderly (American, born 1976), Evan Roth (American, born 1978), and Theo Watson (British, born 1981)
Graffiti Research Lab (USA, est. 2006)
L.A.S.E.R. Tag video of interventions. 2007–08
60 mW green laser, digital projector, camera, and custom GNU software (L.A.S.E.R. Tag V1.0, using OpenFrameworks)
Gift of F.A.T. Lab
© All rights reserved

    © The Museum of Modern Art
    Images © All rights reserved


Disclaimer & Copyright

Stampfli & Turci Art Dealers – Espaces Arts & Objets


~ by Stampfli & Turci on March 13, 2009.

3 Responses to “Rough Cut: Design Takes a Sharp Edge / A Selection of bold design from THE MoMA’s collection”

  1. Hello!
    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language 😉
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo

  2. Hello !! ^_^
    My name is Piter Kokoniz. Just want to tell, that your posts are really interesting
    And want to ask you: is this blog your hobby?
    Sorry for my bad english:)
    Thank you!
    Piter Kokoniz, from Latvia

    • Hello,
      Many thanks for your comment.
      The blog is not entirely a hobby since we are fine art dealers and agent.
      We enjoy enormously to blog and inform our readers about the various art exhibitions we consider important and interestingin.
      Best regards
      Stampfli & Turci

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