Nature–Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial and Nature by Design: Selections from the Permanent Collection at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, May 10 – Jan. 20, 2020

“Designers are striving to transform people’s relationship with the natural world. Nature—Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial, co-organized by Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum and Cube design museum in Kerkrade, Netherlands, features over 60 projects to demonstrate how designers are collaborating with scientists, engineers, environmentalists, academics and other stakeholders to find inventive and promising solutions to the environmental and social challenges confronting humanity today. The Design Triennial is presented at both Cooper Hewitt and Cube, allowing audiences in both the U.S. and Europe to experience the works simultaneously.

Complementing the Design Triennial, Cooper Hewitt’s second-floor galleries are devoted to a rotating presentation of objects from the museum’s expansive holdings of over 210,000 objects. Nature by Design: Selections from the Permanent Collection is now on view and celebrates nature as perhaps the longest-continuing and most global sources of design inspiration. Spanning from the 16th century to the present, Nature by Design features extraordinary textiles, furniture, pattern books, jewelry and more to show how designers have interpreted nature’s rich beauty and complex science.” — Cooper Hewitt

Tranceflora, 2015–19; Sputniko! (Hiromi Ozaki) (Japanese, b. 1985) and Masaya Kushino (Japanese, b. 1982), Another Farm (Tokyo, Japan), in collaboration with National Agricultural and Research Organization (NARO) (Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan, founded 2006) and Hosoo (Kyoto, Japan, founded 1688); Glowing transgenic silk; © Photo by So Morimoto

Bleached (II), 2018; Erez Nevi Pana (Israeli, active in Austria, b. 1983); Salt-crystallized loofah over a wooden structure; 77.5 x 55 x 56 cm (30 1/2 x 21 5/8 x 22 1/16 in.); © Friedman Benda and Erez Nevi Pana

Monarch Sanctuary, 2018–ongoing; Mitchell Joachim (American, b. 1972) and Vivian Kuan (American, b. 1966), Terreform ONE (Brooklyn, New York, USA, founded 2006); Glass, metal, plastic; 365.76 x 365.76 x 91.44 cm (144 x 144 x 36 in.); © Mitchell Joachim, Terreform ONE

Bamboo Theater, 2015–ongoing; Hengkeng Village, Songyang County, Zhejiang Province, China, completed 2015; Designed by Xu Tiantian (Chinese, b. 1975), DnA_Design and Architecture (Beijing, China, founded 2004); Bamboo; Photo by Wang Ziling © DnA_Design and Architecture © Cooper Hewitt

Aguahoja, 2017–19; Neri Oxman (Israeli, active USA, b. 1976), The Mediated Matter Group, MIT Media Lab (Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, founded 2010); Chitosan, cellulose, pectin, acetic acid, glycerin, water; Dimensions variable; Courtesy of The Mediated Matter Group

Curiosity Cloud, 2015–19; Katharina Mischer (Austrian, b. 1982) and Thomas Traxler (Austrian, b. 1981), Mischer’Traxler Studio (Vienna, Austria, founded 2009); Mouth-blown glass bulbs, artificial handmade insects, aluminum hoods, custom made circuit boards, motors, LED lights, cables, ceiling plate, sensors; Dimensions variable; © Photo by Ed Reeve

Metamorphism, 2017–ongoing; Shahar Livne (Israeli, b. 1989); Plastic, minestone, marble dust; Sizes vary, up to: 80 x 60 x 20 cm (31 ½ x 23 3/5 x 7 7/8 in.); Photo by Alan Boom © Shahar Livne

Babylegs, 2017–19; Max Liboiron (Canadian, b. 1980), CLEAR (Civic Laboratory for Environmental Action Research) (St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada, founded 2015); Plastic bottle, nylon stockings, rope; 45.72 x 20.32 x 7.62 cm (18 x 8 x 3 in.); Photo by Dave Howells, MEOPAR © David Howells 2016

Infinity Burial Suit, 2016–ongoing; Jae Rhim Lee (Korean, b. 1975), Coeio (Mountain View, California, USA, founded 2008); Mycelium spores, fabric, microorganisms; © Coeio, Inc./Jae Rhim Lee

“With 2018 the Earth’s fourth-warmest year on record and global carbon emissions at an all-time high, the crisis of human-caused climate change has never been more dire,” said Caroline Baumann, director of Cooper Hewitt. “Solutions will not emerge without radical new thinking and alliances. ‘Nature’ brings together some of the most creative and intelligent designers whose works address our complex relationship to nature and its precious resources and advocate for greater empathy for our planet.”

“Co-operation is crucial in addressing the human-inflicted situation in which nature currently finds itself,” said Hans Gubbels, director of Cube. “The projects in ‘Nature,’ which we have brought together with Cooper Hewitt over the past three years, show great inventiveness. This carries the promise that we can bring human behavior back in line with nature again. Co-operation between design, science and technology thus can turn the tide for our planet.”

Images courtesy Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.