Guggenheim Launches Online Design Forum

Just in time for the release of Gloria Vanderbilt‘s steamy novel about the widow of a Frank Lloyd Wright-like architect (warning: it involves a discovered cache of letters wrapped with a magenta ribbon), the Guggenheim today launched an online forum that will address the subject of how design can enhance or detract from everyday life. “Between the Over- and Underdesigned,” which runs through July 2 on the museum’s website, is the first in a series of moderated online discussions on the arts, architecture, and design. Leading the inaugural forum is journalist and critic Aric Chen, who is virtually joined by panelists Sarah Herda, executive director of the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts; Arjo Klamer, professor of the economics of art and culture at Erasmus University in Rotterdam; Ellen Lupton, curator of contemporary design at Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum; and David van der Leer, assistant curator of architecture and design at the Guggenheim. The forum encourages visitors from around the world to submit comments and questions for consideration by the panelists and to participate in two live chat sessions scheduled for this Thursday (with Chen) and next Tuesday (with van der Leer). Lupton has already gotten things off to a rousing start:

Imagine walking into a brand-new public building—let’s say it’s a museum, a campus student center, or a mental-health clinic. Every detail has been designed, from the drop ceiling to the polished floors. But taped to the security desk is a paper sign, printed out in all-caps Times Roman, that says Restrooms Are Downstairs in the Basement Behind the Boiler Room or Don’t Even Think About Asking Me Where the Elevator Is. These homemade signs boil over with irritation, directed at a clueless public who don’t know how the building works. What’s happening here is not a failure of the public, however, but a failure of design.

Are we overdesigning our homes, our cities, ourselves? Or are we not designing them enough? How do we now define “good design”? Would you ever band together a stack of racy letters with a magenta ribbon? Join the conversation here.

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