My friend surprised me with an invitation to attend MoMA’s exhibit The Value of Good Design (now through June 15th at the Museum of Modern Art – New York City). I didn’t expect that I would discover any inspiration for Expressive Age. Afterall, it was an exhibit of household items and appliances that revolutionized lives from the 1930s to the 1990s. Then, I saw a curated quote on the wall by Edgar Kaufmann, Jr., Director of Good Design in 1959. He said:
Modern design embodies the values of our age, based on democracy and industrialization; designers seek to express these values through that direct blend of efficiency and beauty which in any age characterizes good design.
The words “efficiency and beauty” struck me and fortunately divergent thinking allows us to connect seemingly unconnected ideas. What I was connecting was good design with expressive age. Good design stands the test of time, becoming more appreciated. Someone at an expressive age can stand the test of time, becoming happier, wiser, and more abundant (as some research supports)! Here’s the leap of faith: Like good design, people in the third quarter of life (50-75) should be valued for their efficiency and beauty, meaning their life experiences bringing learning, wisdom, and gratitude.
The MoMA exhibition, curated by Juliet Kinchin and Andrew Gardner, is special because it asks you to consider what good design might mean today in the context of whether or not values from mid-century (1950s) can be translated and redefined for the 21st century. You can stand in front of each object on display and challenge yourself to consider its efficiency and aesthetic. Sometimes you may not even understand its exact purpose. But that’s okay.
There are many entrepreneurial and institutional efforts to design for an aging population, and hopefully we will begin to see a paradigm shift in attitudes. Motives are, not only financial gain but, attempts to address our pressing societal needs as we each grow older.
As people are living longer, retirement planning as we know it is being replaced by longevity planning, a concept that requires holistic thinking from the individual, family and societal perspectives. Retirement once meant leaving the workforce to pursue leisure activities, but today’s aging population is reinventing life after 65. ~ MIT AgeLab
How do you incorporate “good design” blending efficiency and beauty into your daily life?
I like artist Hans Hofmann’s idea that “the ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” Please share your comments on the meaning of “good design” in your life.