The Value of Good Design

Museum of Modern Art
New York, NY, USA
FEBRUARY 10, 2019–MAY 27, 2019

Featuring objects from domestic furnishings and appliances to ceramics, glass, electronics, transport design, sporting goods, toys, and graphics, The Value of Good Design explores the democratizing potential of design, beginning with MoMA’s Good Design initiatives from the late 1930s through the 1950s, which championed well-designed, affordable contemporary products. The concept of Good Design also took hold well beyond the Museum, with governments on both sides of the Cold War divide embracing it as a vital tool of social and economic reconstruction and technological advancement in the years following World War II. This global scope is reflected in many of the items on view, from a mass-market Italian Fiat Cinquecento automobile and a Soviet-era East German Werra camera to a Japanese Sony television and a Brazilian bowl chair. These works join both iconic and unexpected items made in the US, such as the Eames La Chaise, a Chemex Coffee Maker, and Irwin Gershen’s Shrimp Cleaner. The exhibition also raises questions about what Good Design might mean today, and whether values from mid-century can be translated and redefined for a 21st-century audience. Visitors are invited to judge for themselves by trying out a few “good design” classics still in production, and exploring how, through its design stores, MoMA continues to incubate new products and ideas in an international marketplace.

Organized by Juliet Kinchin, Curator, and Andrew Gardner, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Architecture and Design.

The exhibition is supported by the Annual Exhibition Fund with major contributions from the Estate of Ralph L. Riehle, Alice and Tom Tisch, Mimi and Peter Haas Fund, Brett and Daniel Sundheim, Karen and Gary Winnick, The Marella and Giovanni Agnelli Fund for Exhibitions, and Oya and Bülent Eczacıbaşı.

L.M. Ericsson Telephone Company, (Swedish, est. 1876). Hugo Blomberg (Swedish, born 1897), Ralph Lysell (Swedish, born 1907), Hans Gösta Thames (Swedish, born 1916). Ericofon Telephone. 1949–54. ABS plastic, rubber, and nylon housing, .1 (white): 8 1/2 x 3 7/8 x 4 3/8″ (21.6 x 9.8 x 11.1 cm); .2 (yellow): 9 1/8 x 3 7/8 x 4 3/8″ (23.2 x 9.8 x 11.1 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Given anonymously