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Humble Design

Paola Antonelli is the design curator for the New York Museum of Modern Art, MOMA. She understands that most people don’t come to the museum to see the design, but she’s mounted remarkable shows, like Humble Masterpieces, which was at MOMA in 2004, and has been mounted on a small scale here at TED.

Design, she tells us, is often separate from art – Milan, her hometown, doesn’t have much of a local art scene (her words, not mine), but stunning design is pervasive and shows up in average homes. The items she’s featured in Humble Masterpieces, and a later show about security called SAFE – Design Takes on Risk, are all over the map, including:

– Gas masks designed for use in Israel, specialized to let teenagers sip a coke, to let a toddler be held while wearning a mask, or to let a baby be in a cot.
Ideo’s “personal skies”, cubicles that let occupants control what’s over their heads.

Ralph Borland’s “Suited for Subversion”, a suit for civil disobedience that amplifies your heartbeat, forcing the police to hear your humanity.
– Hideaway furniture, which allows you to literally hide in your floor.
– Faraday chairs that protect you from radiation.
Twan Verdonck’s Boezels, toys that hug autistic children.
Ana Mir’s chocolate nippes and intra-toe candies that your lover is supposed to suck
Mathieu Lehanneur’s asthma medicine container which inflates when you’re supposed to take your medicine.