Design for a Living World at the Cooper-Hewitt: Not to be Missed

Ezri Tarazi's installation of bamboo totems moves the dense landscape of China’s bamboo forests indoors, creating a domestic forest that supports a range of living arrangements. Photo: Udi Dagan

Ezri Tarazi's installation of bamboo totems moves the dense landscape of China’s bamboo forests indoors, creating a domestic forest that supports a range of living arrangements. Photo: Udi Dagan


Round sections of bamboo hang from a metal structure to create a chair. Each section is suspended from a metal rod that allows the rings to turn.

Round sections of bamboo hang from a metal structure to create a chair. Each section is suspended from a metal rod that allows the rings to turn.


Using FSC-certified plywood from Bolivia, Abbott Miller designed a chair whose components can be shipped flat and dry-assembled with a rubber mallet.  Photo: Jay Zukerkorn

Using FSC-certified plywood from Bolivia, Abbott Miller designed a chair whose components can be shipped flat and dry-assembled with a rubber mallet. Photo: Jay Zukerkorn


The chair design highlights the beauty of Bolivian wood, while also yielding three chairs per sheet of plywood, with a minimal amount of waste. Photo: Jay Zukerkorn

The chair design highlights the beauty of Bolivian wood, while also yielding three chairs per sheet of plywood, with a minimal amount of waste. Photo: Jay Zukerkorn


New York fashion designer Issac Mizrahi during a fitting session. Mizrahi used salmon leather to create an ensemble that includes a dress, jacket and shoes. Photo: Mackenzie Stroh

New York fashion designer Issac Mizrahi during a fitting session. Mizrahi used salmon leather to create an ensemble that includes a dress, jacket and shoes. Photo: Mackenzie Stroh


Yves Béhar meets with indigenous women who run an organic chocolate cooperative in Costa Rica. Photo: Serge Beaulieu

Yves Béhar meets with indigenous women who run an organic chocolate cooperative in Costa Rica. Photo: Serge Beaulieu


Béhar’s final design calls for stainless steel and sustainably-harvested Costa Rican hardwood. His chocolate shaving tool is designed to rest on the lip of a mug and resemble a twig. Photo: Dan Whipps

Béhar’s final design calls for stainless steel and sustainably-harvested Costa Rican hardwood. His chocolate shaving tool is designed to rest on the lip of a mug and resemble a twig. Photo: Dan Whipps

Not to be missed: Design for a Living World at the Cooper-Hewitt, organized by The Nature Conservancy, through January 2010.

Ten leading designers have been commissioned to develop new uses for sustainably grown and harvested materials in order to tell a unique story about the life-cycle of materials and the power of conservation and design. Projects include:
– Swedish industrial designer Yves Béhar’s chocolate shaving tool, designed to rest on the lip of a mug and resemble a twig, to benefit a Costa Rican women’s organic chocolate cooperative.
– Abbott Miller’s Bolivian wood chair design, which yields three chairs per sheet of plywood, with a minimal amount of waste.
– Stephen Burks Australian raspberry jamwood piece that allows for easy collection and processing of plant-based materials for use in the skincare line. He also created a complementary suite of jamwood containers to hold the cosmetics.
– fashion designer Issac Mizrahi’s unexpected Alaskan salmon leather-made dress, jacket and shoes.

The designers’ prototypes, drawings and finished products are all on display, along with video revealing their work behind-the-scenes. Design for a Living World is co-curated by graphic designer Abbott Miller and Ellen Lupton, curator of contemporary design at Cooper-Hewitt. This is the debut venue in a national tour of the exhibition, organized by The Nature Conservancy.

The full list of featured designers and locales includes:

Yves Behar/Costa Rica; Stephen Burks/Australia; Hella Jongerius/Mexico; Maya Lin/Maine; Christien Meindertsma/Idaho; Isaac Mizrahi/Alaska; Abbott Miller/Bolivia; Ted Muehling/Micronesia; Kate Spade/Bolivia; and Ezri Tarazi/China.

Images courtesy of Cooper-Hewitt.

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