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MoMA explores the collaborative partnerships and processes that have shaped the modern interior
Lilly Reich. Women’s Fashion Exhibition, Berlin, Germany. View of the Velvet and Silk Café. 1927. Gelatin silver print, 8 x 10″ (20.3 x 25.4 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Mies van der Rohe Archive, gift of the architect.

NEW YORK, NY.- With How Should We Live? Propositions for the Modern Interior, The Museum of Modern Art examines a range of environments—domestic interiors, exhibition displays, and retail spaces—with the aim of exploring the complex collaborative partnerships, materials, and processes that have shaped the modern interior. On view from October 1, 2016, to April 23, 2017, the exhibition focuses on specific interior spaces from the 1920s to the 1950s. Rather than concentrating on isolated masterworks, attention is given to the synthesis of design elements within each setting, and to the connection of external factors and attitudes—aesthetic, social, technological, and political—that these propositions express in material and spatial form. How Should We Live? is organized by Juliet Kinchin, Curator, with Luke Baker, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Architecture and Design, MoMA.

Bringing together a number of recent acquisitions by the Department of Architecture and Design of work by major women architect-designers, How Should We Live? looks at several designers’ own living spaces and at frequently neglected areas in the field of design, including textile furnishings, wallpapers, kitchens, temporary exhibitions, and promotional displays. Noted partnerships featured in the exhibition will include Lilly Reich and Mies van der Rohe, Grete Lihotzky and Ernst May, Eileen Gray and Jean Badovici, Aino and Alvar Aalto, Charles and Ray Eames, Florence Knoll and Herbert Matter, and Charlotte Perriand and Le Corbusier.

Divided into three chronological groupings—the late 1920s to the early 1930s, the late 1930s to the mid-1940s, and the late 1940s into the 1950s—the exhibition brings together over 200 objects in total, but highlights a number of large-scale interiors by the aforementioned designers, including Lihotzky’s Frankfurt Kitchen (1926–27), Reich and Mies’s Velvet and Silk Café (1927), and Perriand and Le Corbusier’s study bedroom from the Maison du Brésil (1959).

The exhibition is also joined by a small grouping of works on the Museum’s third floor landing, including a large weaving by Bauhaus designer Benita Koch-Otte, on view for the first time, as well as a range of tubular steel furniture designed by Marcel Breuer.

Since the Department of Architecture and Design was first established in the early 1930s, the Museum’s curators, guided by a belief in the power of design to shape everyday experiences and perceptions, have focused on the question “How should we live?” as one of the most vital issues in contemporary design. Recent MoMA exhibitions on related topics include Designing Modern Women, 1890–1990 (2012), Counter Space: Design and the Modern Kitchen (2010), and Bauhaus 1919–1933: Workshops for Modernity (2009).

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