Kazuo Kawasaki. Carna Folding Wheelchair. 1989. Manufacturer: SIG Workshop Co. Ltd., Ishikawa, Japan. Titanium, rubber, and aluminum honeycomb, 33 × 22 × 35 1/4″ (83.8 × 55.9 × 89.5 cm). Gift of the designer

Mutant Materials in Contemporary Design highlights the evolution in the design of materials that have revolutionized the culture of design—and material culture at large—in the past decade. Materials can be designed, and new techniques can customize, extend, and modify their physical properties. Ceramics and fiber compounds can be alternatives to metals, wood can be as soft as upholstery, and plastics can be made as translucent as glass or as hard as stone. Mutant materials are opening up new worlds of possibilities for designers and manufacturers.

This major exhibition features more than 200 objects and prototypes, all of which were designed over the last ten years and were drawn together from international sources. Made of glass, plastics, rubber, foam, wood, metals, and ceramics, each work is an example of an innovative material or the innovative use of a traditional material. Entries include a carbon-fiber airplane, fins made from liquid plastic, ceramic-turbine rotors, ceramic razor blades, and titanium wheelchairs. In some cases, various phases of the production process are illustrated, and some of the raw materials may be handled by visitors.

Organized by Paola Antonelli, Associate Curator, Department of Architecture and Design, The Museum of Modern Art.

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