University of Minnesota to host 14 of most celebrated design thinkers from the United States and Europe

The University of Minnesota will host 14 of the most celebrated design thinkers from the United States and Europe on April 27 and 28 for an international conference on the state of contemporary design discourse. In complementary sessions, the conference will focus on Minneapolis new public architecture and new curatorial directions at major international museums.

The conference, Design and Its Publics: Curators, Critics, and Historians (DAIP) brings together leading scholars, top critics, broadcasters and design practitioners with curators from some of the most influential museums in the United States, London and the Netherlands to address how public understanding of architecture and design is shaped by criticism, scholarship and curatorial practice.

This is a remarkable line-up of senior opinion-leaders in the worlds of architecture and design, said Janet Abrams, director of the Design Institute in the College of Design. The fact that theyve agreed to speak here indicates that the University of Minnesota is becoming recognized as a key platform for debate on critical issues in these fields.

Co-hosted by the Department of Art History and the Design Institute, DAIP is the first collaboration between the College of Liberal Arts and the new College of Design at the U of M. The conference is co-organized by Abrams and Steven Ostrow, chair of the Department of Art History. They, along with College of Design Dean Tom Fisher, will serve as moderators during the conference.

On the first day of the conference, the invited architectural critics and historians will offer assessments of the significance of Minneapolis’ new public architecture (Herzog and de Meuron’s Walker Art Center expansion, Michael Graves new wing at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Cesar Pellis Minneapolis Central Library, and Jean Nouvels new Guthrie Theater) within the larger sphere of a global architectural culture, and the role of critical writing and mass media in shaping this culture.

This is a rare opportunity to bring together leading architectural critics and historians from North America and Europe to exchange ideas about Minneapolis’s new iconic buildings, Ostrow said. This collaboration between the College of Liberal Arts and the new College of Design is an exciting venture and were confident this will be a landmark conference.

On the second day, the invited curators/museum directors will describe how they, too, shape public perception of design and architecture through their curatorial and acquisitions strategies, exhibit designs, and museum education programs.

Conference speakers will include Paola Antonelli, curator, Department of Architecture and Design, Museum of Modern Art, New York; Ole Bouman, director, Netherlands Architecture Institute, Rotterdam; Margaret Crawford, professor of Urban Design and Planning Theory, Harvard Graduate School of Design, Cambridge, Mass.; Jean-Louis Cohen, professor of architecture history, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University; Deyan Sudjic, director, Design Museum, London; and Brooke Hodge, curator, Architecture and Design, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

To see a full list of speakers, please visit

Design and Its Publics will be held in Rapson Hall Auditorium, in Rapson Hall, 89 Church Street SE, Minneapolis. Conference sessions will run from noon to 6:00 pm on Friday, April 27 and Saturday, April 28. Admission is free and open to the public. Seats will be allocated on a first-come basis by application to with DAIP in subject.