IDEO Selects: Works form the Permanent Collection is curated by the innovation and design firm IDEO. Founded in 1991 in Palo Alto, California, by David Kelley, Bill Moggridge, and Mike Nutall, IDEO calls seven offices on three continents home and comprises more than 500 design thinkers in the disciplines of design, engineering, social science, and business strategy. For the exhibition, IDEO selected the theme of design thinking, chose works from our collection to illustrate its choice, and designed the installation in which these objects are presentd. Design thinking expresses an IDEO credo: design is a human-centered activity that has the potential to solve problems in business, education, government, and society. It seeks inspiration from the people whom it ultimately serves–the end users–in order to generate meaningful solutions. IDEO's design thinkers regularly conduct fieldwork in places as diverse as the participants' homes, workplaces, and communities, gaining empathy for individuals and contexts in order to solve design challenges. According to Kelley, the firm's approach is "much more about going out into the world not having a point of view, and just finding these latent needs that are obvious...We try to get into the right general area first, rather than just accepting what the problem is." In creating this exhibition, IDEO reversed its approach. With each object, IDEO invites the viewer to explore how a designer or maker came to understand the end user's environment, pursuits, and needs, and drew upon them to create an object. In contemplating the perspectives and exchange between designer and user, visitors can experience firsthand the elements of design thinking. IDEO is the first firm to serve as a guest curator in the Museum's exhibition series in the Nancy and Edwin Marks Gallery, devoted to featuring objects in Cooper-Hewitt's permanent collection.
Much like cricket fighting, cockfighting is a blood sport between two gamecocks held in a ring. While this chair was intended as a specific piece of furniture dedicated to reading, it also became known as a cockfight chair, likely due to its capability for the user to safely sit with the padded back shielding them from the violence of the fight.
The intended purpose of this enigmatic interlaced design—one of six similar motifs produced by Dürer after designs by Leonardo da Vinci—is unknown. It may have served as a pattern for embroidery or textiles, or as a demonstration of the artist’s craftsmanship.
Intended by Sottsass, a designer and architect, to be the “antimachine machine,” the Valentine made a vivid statement in a market dominated by somber appliances. The bright red plastic casing brought emotion to the typewriter, differentiating it from business machines and inspiring the literary crowd.
With the intent to design a piece of “totally humanized” office technology, Bellini attracted a new breed of consumer with the Divisumma 18 calculator’s colorful, tactile form. The stylish design made use of revolutionary synthetics like ABS plastic, melamine resin, and an inviting rubberized skin covering the keyboard buttons. Produced in a bright golden hue, it sat smartly on desks as a reminder of the sense of play that design could bring to even the most formal environments.
The child’s chair was one of the first furniture designs by Charles and Ray Eames to go into production, and one of the first molded plywood furniture designs to be mass-produced. Its contoured form, simple silhouette, and playful use of color can be seen in the Eameses’ later, more iconic furniture designs.
Sapper and Zanuso's portable radio combines a pure, modern aesthetic with a functionality that not only facilitates ease of use, but also protects sensitive electronic elements from inclement weather, or being jostled in transit. The radius corners soften the overall appearance, creating an object that is equally stylish in its open or closed position.