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Israel Museum presents contemporary design exhibition "Curious Minds"
Maria Blaisse, Dutch, born 1944. Sphere from the "Moving Meshes" series, 2008. Bamboo. Collection of the artist© Maria Blaisse.

JERUSALEM.- The Israel Museum presents a new exhibition that challenges our definitions of design and encourages a new discourse about the role design plays in shaping our world. Curious Minds: New Approaches in Design, which opened on December 16 and remains on view through April 14, 2012, focuses on mapping out new territories in today’s design arena. Today’s technology is allowing a new generation of designers to transcend previously conventional models of design development and manufacture. However, unlike their predecessors, many of these young designers do not reject the past in favor of new technologies, but rather draw inspiration from historical models to develop projects that combine the traditional with the new. Among the nearly forty works on display in the exhibition are works by Maria Blaisse, El Último Grito, Julius Popp, rAndom International, Raw Edges, Stefan Sagmeister, Studio Drift, Troika, and others—altogether representing twenty seven designers and studios from fifteen countries worldwide.

For the past few decades, designers have explored digital and interactive technologies to produce innovative work and, under the umbrella of “critical design,” used design to ask probing questions about human behavior and to address the social, cultural, and ethical consequences of emerging technologies. Curious Minds focuses attention on designers who challenge mainstream design and consumer culture in various ways. Although they represent a rich diversity of design practice, their work reveals a shared curiosity about life and often contains elements of playfulness.

James Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of the Israel Museum, states: “While each of these designers embraces the potential of new technologies, they do so in order to create works that are as much about beauty, poetry, and inspiration as about technology itself, relating in rich ways to the history of traditional art, craft, and design.”

Works in the exhibition are presented in four categories: Post Digital – Poetic Gestures; Future Scenarios; The Process of Making; and Design – Real Time. Highlights include:

• Troika's Falling Light (2010), originally commissioned by Swarovski Crystal Palace , a specially designed mechanical device that creates showers of small drops of light. As each droplet hits the floor, it is encircled by a vibrantly hued halo radiating outward, a phenomenon made possible by the intrinsic qualities of optically pure, custom-cut Swarovski crystal lenses.

• A segment from Stefan Sagmeister's much anticipated The Happy Film (with Hillman Curtis), which analyzes strategies recommended by psychologists for improving personal happiness and overall wellbeing. Questions such as “Is it possible to train our minds in the same way that we train our bodies?” and “Can we change our behavior to make ourselves happier?” are addressed in this documentary, in which Sagmeister experiments with a long list of strategies—from the sublime to the ridiculous—and reports the results.

• Julius Popp's Bit.Fall (2002–2006), a mechanical device that produces a curtain of cascading words composed of water drops that are selected randomly from an algorithmic program that locates key words from news websites and search engines. As virtual information is translated into physical form on its surface, the water curtain symbolizes the overflow of information that inundates our daily lives in the digital age—while nonetheless doing so in an entrancingly beautiful way.

• Fragile Future 3(2011) by Studio Drift, an interactive installation that fuses nature—in the form of dandelion seeds—and technology—with circuits made of laser-cut and bent phosphor bronze that conduct electricity to each of the seeds, which are individually attached to LED lights. The fusion between nature and technology suggests a future scenario in which the natural and man-made technological worlds can coexist.

Curious Minds is curated by Alex Ward, Senior Curator, Department of Design and Architecture.

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