“There is design in everything,” wrote Clara Porset, the innovative Cuban-Mexican designer. She believed that craft and industry could inspire each other, forging an alternative path for modern design. Not all of Porset’s colleagues agreed with her conviction. This exhibition presents these sometimes conflicting visions of modernity proposed by designers of home environments in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Venezuela between 1940 and 1980. For some, design was an evolution of local and Indigenous craft traditions, leading to an approach that combined centuries-old artisanal techniques with machine-based methods. For others, design responded to market conditions and local tastes, and was based on available technologies and industrial processes. In this exhibition, objects including furniture, appliances, posters, textiles, and ceramics, as well as a selection of photographs and paintings, will explore these tensions.
The home became a site of experimentation for modern living during a period marked by dramatic political, economic, and social changes, which had broad repercussions for Latin American visual culture. For nearly half a century, the design of the domestic environment embodied ideas of national identity, models of production, and modern ways of living. The home also offered opportunities for a dialogue between art, architecture, and design. Highlights of the exhibition include Clara Porset’s Butaque chair; Lina Bo Bardi’s Bowl chair; Antonio Bonet, Juan Kurchan, and Jorge Ferrari Hardoy’s B.K.F. Chair; and Roberto Matta’s Malitte Lounge Furniture.
Organized by Ana Elena Mallet, guest curator, with Amanda Forment, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Architecture and Design.