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Strecthing the Museum

was a panel discussion hosted by Alice Twemlow at Salone Del Mobile in 2017. I was given the honour of introducing Paola Antonelli.

Paola Antonelli is the Senior Curator of Architecture and Design at the MoMA in New York. From here she shares her vivid thinking about design and helps a broad public to seedesign in some cases, for the first time, and to understand it’s contexts and consequences. Her ambitious exhibitions include her exploration of the visceral relationships between Design and Violence, and challenging the post-physicality of contemporary design in Design and the Elastic Mind.
In her role as the director of the Research and Development department at the MoMA, she is able to connect to the public at different registers through her public programming and talks series.

Her openness to the shifts in how we conceive of design led to her inclusion in the museum’s permanent collection of the @ symbol and a selection of video games.
This last acquisition incited a controversy concerning value and the role of museums. Seeking to preserve source code suddenly became a questioning of the value of reproducible design – how can an object that is not explicitly beautiful in it’s form but has the potential to create new environments through algorithms, be displayed in the museum? A debate similar to the collecting of plaster casts from sculptures in the 18th and 19th century. But Antonelli's research into the subject solidified the museum's role in archiving the source material so that this designed information can be visualized through any hardware system in the present or future.
Antonelli explores design as it becomes more conceptual and at times, less visible. As a Masters student in Design Curating and Writing at the Design Academy in Eindhoven, I've become interested in the matter of displaying the bodiless objects of digital ephemera and much of my research has led me to Antonelli. The subject is a common one, but she is able to speak to it in a way that makes one think she's been waiting years for it to come up.
Her exhibitions, writings, and lectures ask the audience to engage in conversations of design that activate cultural and philosophical pulses all the while without alienation.
Please help me in welcoming, Paola Antonelli.