Thursday, March 13, 2008

IMA Acquires 37 Works for Design Collection

The IMA has just announced that they have acquired several new design works for their collection. While product design has never really excited me, it is nice to see that they will be expanding upon their current collection of works with some impressive examples of contemporary design by several of the top designers of the past decades. [RANT: What often bothers me about a lot of high design is the simple style over function debate. I personally think that when it comes to the design of utilitarian items, they should first be usable, well crafted, and even practical. Designing an uncomfortable chair for example is both bad design and pointless.]

(note: I attempted to find some images online for some of the pieces listed below but was unable to do so. We will just have to wait till they open in the fall to see what they have.)

From the IMA press release:

Indianapolis, IN, March 12, 2008—The Indianapolis Museum of Art today announced several major design initiatives, including:

·The acquisition of 37 new works, 19 of which come from the Liliane and David M. Stewart Collection in Montreal. Liliane Stewart, with her late husband David, amassed one of the most important international twentieth and twenty-first-century design collections in North America.

·The creation of the IMA Design Center, a retail space opening in November 2008 which will offer contemporary, sustainable design products for sale.

·The organization of the exhibition European Design Since 1985: Shaping the New Century, which will debut at the Museum on March 8, 2009. The exhibition will be the first comprehensive survey of contemporary Western European Design from 1985-2005.

In October 2007, R. Craig Miller joined the IMA as Curator of Design Arts and Director of Design Initiatives, following 17 years as Curator of the Department of Architecture, Design & Graphics at the Denver Art Museum. Miller’s appointment and the creation of the Design Arts Department were part of a renewed focus on design at the IMA. Since he arrived, Miller has actively pursued acquisitions for the IMA’s design collection.

“In a few short months, we have acquired a number of spectacular works, thanks to the generosity of Mrs. Stewart and her foundation,” said Maxwell L. Anderson, the Melvin & Bren Simon Director and CEO of the Indianapolis Museum of Art. “Under Craig’s leadership, we are building a compelling and fully-rounded department of twentieth and twenty-first- century design and implementing a number of initiatives, including the Design Center, to bring intelligent and sustainable design to our audiences.”

New Acquisitions

The IMA recently received a gift of 19 objects from the collection of Liliane Stewart, who, with her late husband David, founded the Museum of Decorative Arts in Montreal. Mrs. Stewart and her husband amassed one of the most important international twentieth and twenty-first-century design collections in North America. She has long been a benefactor of museums in the United States and Canada. Acquisition highlights include:

-Clifford B. Stevens & Edward P. Schreyer, Iron Petit Point Traveling Iron (1941). Manufactured by Waverly Tool Co., Sandusky, Ohio;

-Ettore Sottsass, Teadora Armchair (1986-87). Manufactured by Vitra, Basel, Switzerland;

-Alessandro Mendini, Alchemilla Vase (1993). Manufactured by Design Gallery Milan, Italy;

-Philippe Starck, Ara Lamps (1988). Manufactured by Flos, Brescia, Italy.

The works from Mrs. Stewart will be among the first objects to enter the Museum’s collection since the Design Arts Department was created in October 2007. In addition to these gifts, the IMA recently purchased a number of objects to further enhance the Museum’s design holdings, including:

-Eliel Saarinen, Sideboard (1929). The sideboard was first exhibited in a dining room designed by Saarinen for a major exhibition, The Architect and the Industrial Arts, at The Metropolitan Museum of Art;

-Frank Gehry, Bubbles Chaise Lounge (1986) from the Experimental Edges Series. Manufactured by New City Editions, Venice, California;

-Maarten van Severen, CK94 Copyright Bookcase (1994). Manufactured by Maarten van Severen Meubelen, Ghent, Belgium;

-Shiro Kuramata, Three-legged Side Chair (1983). Manufactured by Ishimaru Co., Ltd, Japan;

-Alessandro Mendini and Alessandro Guerriero, Side Chair (1988) from the Ollo Collection. Manufactured by Consorzio Esposizione Mobili for Studio Alchymia, Milan, Italy.

The Museum will debut many of its new design acquisitions in late fall 2008.

7 Responses to “IMA Acquires 37 Works for Design Collection”

Christopher said...
March 13, 2008 at 4:48 PM

Scott - open up your world to the fabulousness (is that a word?) of design. The IMA just got some brilliant pieces. Can't wait until March '09!!!

Scott said...
March 13, 2008 at 5:55 PM

I do like some design work. I quite like the TRANSPLASTIC Furniture by the Campana Brothers. Some of the best looking furniture design I have seen recently, and it looks comfortable, functional, well crafted and innovative in design. Perfect marks all around.

You can see examples at:

Anonymous said...
March 15, 2008 at 10:15 AM

There is something to be said for design for designs'sake, regardless of function, comfort or utility. When this happens, design is elevated to pure art. Creating a chair that is incredibly beautiful and/or clever but cannot be sat in comfortably, for instance, is a prime example of design as art. Isn't that what the museum is for?

Otherwise, it's just another day at IKEA.

The Urbanophile said...
March 15, 2008 at 2:59 PM

Looks like some good pickups.

Anonymous said...
March 17, 2008 at 1:01 PM

Cool stuff.

Artur Silva said...
March 18, 2008 at 5:15 PM

I love the Campana brothers!

Craig said...
April 4, 2008 at 1:58 AM

We are very fortunate to have Craig Miller at the IMA. Max Anderson is levelling up our beloved museum by bringing and supporting Mr. Miller to build a modern design collection.

As a designer who converses among local designers and local modern collectors, I can say that despite brave attempts to interest the IMA in the importance of Modern Design prior to the directorship of Max Anderson, there was little or no interest whatsoever. I did spend a good deal of time sitting on the IMA's Nakashima benches pondering this problem (the IMA is probably one of the few places in the world today that an average citizen can sit on a Nakashima bench, and I encourage you to do so).

My great hope, though, while certainly pleased with the IMA's embrace of modern design, is that the IMA will recognize the work of local 20th century modern designers in some way. There are only a handful of them. The work of Evans Woollen, Avriel Shull, Park Randall , Dunbar furniture, Jane and Gordon Martz of Marshall Studios, and Karl Martz and Becky Brown have all contributed to their disciplines in a way which has impacted the understanding of modern design either locally or nationally. The rift between the IMA and it's vernacular setting might best be bridged by connecting these designers to their movements and place in history through the grand institution in their home state.

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