SAFE: Design Takes On Risk at the MoMA

This is the first major design exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art since its reopening in November 2004. From October 16, 2005 to January 02, 2005, the exhibition will present more than 300 contemporary products and prototypes designed for a variety of reasons: to protect body and mind from dangerous or stressful circumstances; respond to emergencies; ensure clarity of information; and provide a sense of comfort and security. The objects will be displayed in the exhibition to address the spectrum of human fears and worries, from the most mundane to the most exceptional, from the dread of earthquakes and terrorist attacks, to those of darkness and loneliness.

Safety is an instinctive need that has guided human choices throughout history and has in recent years become a focus, even an obsession. Risk, on the other hand, is mankind’s propelling fuel. Humankind craves discovery, innovation and inspiration, no matter how dangerous. Designers are trained to balance risk with protection and to mediate between disruptive change and normalcy. Good design goes hand in hand with personal needs, providing protection and security without sacrificing innovation and invention.

In the tradition of such influential MoMA exhibitions as Machine Art (1934), Modern Masks and Helmets (1991), and Mutant Materials in Contemporary Design (1995), SAFE redirects the pursuit of beauty toward the appreciation of economy of function and technology. The exhibition covers all forms of design, from manufactured products to information architecture. The products will range from refugee shelters to baby strollers, from demining equipment to nutritional information, from protective sports gear to toys that help children with psychological impairments regain a sense of self and of the world surrounding them. A life-saving station will be installed in the MoMA lot adjacent to the American Folk Art Museum and will be visible from the street.

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