Mutant Materials in Contemporary Design


Transparent and invisible, glass can curve and color space and refract, filter, and shape light. Through the centuries, this material, made from mixed sands treated to achieve a state of rigid liquidity, has been the magical obsession of alchemists, chemi sts, and engineers and has developed extraordinary mutant qualities.

The exhibition contains some of the most advanced design applications of curved and coated glass, samples of hybrid glass-ceramics and synthetic crystals, and sandwich panels in which sheets of glass are coupled with other materials. New uses of traditio nal techniques, such as blown glass, are also represented.

Among the examples of coated glass are James Carpenter's architectural uses of dichroic coating, which adds a film to sheet glass to filter only two colors of the spectrum, and Karim Rashid's coffee table made of beautifully colored PMMA (polymethyl-metac rylate) film. Composite glass lends itself to such applications as transparent panels that become opaque when the liquid-crystal film within the two external sheets is activated by electricity. The signage panels throughout the exhibition were designed by Claudio Cesar, using a technique that enables a glass panel to carry a message or image when viewed from one side and to appear completely translucent when viewed from the other.

Three lighting fixtures, by Bernard Alain Brux and Philippe Gourdon, Achille Castiglioni, and Vico Magistretti, are contemporary interpretations of the traditional opaline glass shade.

Bernard Alain Brux. French, b. 1950
Philippe Gourdon. French, b. 1955
"Mano" Lighting Fixture. 1991 (1989)
Acid-etched blown glass and stamped sheet metal
Manufactured by Luxo Italiana S.p.a., Italy
Lent by Zelco Industries, Inc., Mt. Vernon, N.Y.

Achille Castiglioni. Italian, b. 1918
"Brera" Lighting Fixture. 1992 (1992)
Acid-treated blown glass
Manufactured by Flos S.p.a., Italy
The Museum of Modern Art, gift of the manufacturer

Vico Magistretti. Italian, b. 1920
"Palomar" Lighting Fixture. 1992 (1992)
Sand-blasted glass diffuser and polished
aluminum frame
Manufactured by Fontana Arte S.p.a., Italy
Lent by Fontana Arte S.p.a., Milan
(photo courtesy Fontana Arte)

James Carpenter Design Associates
James Carpenter. American, b. 1949
Richard Kress. American, b. 1962
Luke Lowings. British, b. 1961
"Refractive Tensegrity Rings." 1993
Dichroic-coated glass panels and stainless-steel and aluminum fittings
Commissioned by BMW AG, Germany, for the Munich Airport
Manufactured by John Depp, Inc. (panels),
and Tri Pyramid Structures, Inc. (fittings), United States
Lent by James Carpenter, New York

Claudio Cesar. American, b. 1955
"ChromaFusion." 1992 (1988)
Laminated glass panels
"ChromaScreen." 1992 (1988)
Unidirectional laminated glass panels
Manufactured by Cesar Color, Inc., United States
Lent by Cesar Color, Inc., Burlingame, Calif.

Figla Co., Ltd., and Shiseido Co., Ltd.
"Infinitone" Glass.
1993 (1992)
Sandwich of glass sheets, Shiseido Inifinite Color fine ceramics, and resin
Manufactured by Figla Co., Ltd., Japan
Lent by Figla Co., Ltd., Tokyo

Karim Rashid Industrial Design Canadian, b. Egypt 1960
"Aura" Coffee Table. (1990)
Sandwich of glass sheets and colored PMMA (polymethyl-metacrylate) film,
steel rods, and redwood
Lent by Karim Rashid, New York
(photos courtesy Karim Rashid)

3M Construction Products Division
Viracon Privacy Glass. 1991 (1991)
Laminated 3M Privacy Film (liquid-crystal film) and strengthened glass
Manufactured by Viracon, United States
Lent by Viracon, Owatonna, Minn.

Figla Research Center
"ECOSS" (Ecology Sun System)
Glass Panels.
1993 (1993)
Sandwich of glass sheets, acrylic bars, and aluminum honeycomb or louvers
Manufactured by Figla Co., Ltd., Japan
Lent by Figla Co., Ltd., Tokyo
(photos courtesy Figla)

Schott Glasswerke
"TWD" Transparent Glass Insulation. (1994)
Glass tubing
Lent by James Carpenter, New York

Fabio Di Bartolomei. Italian, b. 1954
"Tango" Coffee Table. 1995 (1995)
Glass top surface and wood feet
Manufactured by FIAM Italia S.p.a., Italy
Lent by FIAM Italia S.p.a., Pesaro, Italy

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Inertial Confinement Fusion Program
Natalia Zaitseva. Russian, b. 1947
KDP(KH2PO4) Single Crystal. 1985 (1985)
Lent by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory at the University of California, Department of Energy, Livermore, Calif.

Lorenzo Porcelli
Coasters. 1993 (1993)
Fotoform glass and Fotoceram glass ceramics
Manufactured by Corning Incorporated, United States
Lent by Corning Incorporated, Corning, N.Y.

Schott Laboratory Systems
(a division of Schott Process Systems)
"Safe-T-Duct" Glass Ductwork. 1994 (1993)
Borosilicate glass
Manufactured by Schott Process Systems, Inc., United States
Lent by Schott Process Systems, Inc., Vineland, N.J.

Fibers and Composites
Rubber and Foam
Other Materials


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©1995 The Museum of Modern Art, New York