Common manifestations of innovation and evolution emerge across diverse objects and typologies.Technology—both analogue and digital—serves as a driver for many of the projects featured in this exhibition, notably those by designers Aaron Koblin, Christien Meindertsma, Stefan Sagmeister and Scott Wilson, which rethink how we represent and interact with information. For architects, rapid prototyping, green technology, and advances in structural engineering have led to exciting new ideas for public buildings and ambitious, supertall towers. From the neighborhood focus of Jeanne Gang’s Chinese American community center in Chicago to the innovative interaction between historical site and new construction in a competition entry for the New Maribor Art Gallery by Stan Allen, contemporary designers are developing new ways to interpret their commitment to context across a variety of scales and programs. Many of the projects shown are creative adaptations or subversions of conventional objects—from modern architects Paul Schweikher and Buckminster Fuller’s challenge to the American domestic ideal in the 1930s to the sculptural form of low-energy Plumen bulbs by Hulger and Samuel Wilkinson Design. Material exploration is another important driver of new types, including FormaFantasma’s exciting research on preindustrial resins for its Botanica series. This exhibition demonstrates the many principals of invention—optimization, retooling, and mutation—that shape our cities and the new forms of media influencing the way we think, live, and communicate.

Hulger and Samuel Wilkinson Design. Plumen 001 (set of 15), 2010. Gift of Hulger.

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