Destination Design

The latest installment of Design MMoCA is excitingly diverse

Apr 26, 2012

At last night’s Design MMoCA opening party, Madison’s design community came out in enthusiastic support of the biannual event.

This year, the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art opened up the design showcase to feature design of all types. (In the past, the event highlighted only interior designers and architects.) The result was an incredibly eclectic and exciting array of design, featured on two floors of the museum.

As always, participants took inspiration for their designs from a work of art from the museum’s permanent collection. But from that shared starting point, these nearly twenty interior, fashion, product, industrial and jewelry designers ventured into diverse directions.

Jerry Chapa of Chapa Design began with Christo and Jean Claude’s Wrapped Automobile, Project for Volvo 122-2 Sport Sedan, a 1984 lithograph depicting a car covered in material. Along a gallery wall, Chapa presented ubiquitous logos wrapped in a similar pale material. Even though they were stripped of their characteristic colors and contexts, the logos were easily recognizable, and viewers seemed to enjoy identifying them.

Heejin Hwang picked up on the texture and line in Bruce Conner’s 1967 lithograph, Return to Go, and created a collection of woven items. Hung on walls and displayed in a glass case, the works were intricate, organic, complex and a lovely complement to the print.

Industrial designer Philip Stankard took Sol Lewitt’s minimalist etching, Vertical Not Straight Lines Not Touching on Color, and created an elegant, practical item: a picnic system. The compact yellow product featured an area for food storage and served as a seat to nestle into the grass. I can picture the Capital lawn filled with these all summer long at Concerts on the Square.

The most technologically advanced work was Pitch Interactive’s Battle for Grownups 2.0. Inspired by Gene Davis’s Battle for Grown-Ups, a 1969 screenprint featuring a row of colorful stripes, the team offered a colorful television-screen display that changed shape based on how close or quickly viewers moved in relation to it. Adults and children alike are sure to enjoy this installation.

A crowd favorite was Small Town: Uprooted by Team Pahl, made up of Doug an Kate Pahl, an architect and graphic designer, respectively. They found inspiration in two black and white photographs by Archie Lieberman depicting small-town Midwestern life in the 1970s. The nostalgia and slice-of-life quality of the images prompted the pair to create an installation of peacefully beautiful green fields dotted with tiny houses. The landscape hangs from a thick rope, with an expansive root system extending below the ground. It evokes the sense that this is one community among many realms, and though the place is small it’s also quite special.

Design MMoCA runs through May 6 at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. For more information, go here.

For more design features, visit And if you’d like to create a work inspired by a painting at MMoCA, enter our Mixed Media contest; find details here.

Photo by Mike Bechner of Black Ice Photography.



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