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Design Episodes: Form, Style, Language

December 17, 2016–June 25, 2017
Gallery 285

In anticipation of fall 2017’s new permanent display of architecture and design works in the Modern Wing, this exhibition presents highlights from the Art Institute’s collection as three provocative episodes or vignettes: the modern chair, the emergence of postmodern design, and contemporary identity systems in graphic design.

The first section is devoted to the modern chair, one of the most popular and enduring design types. Iconic examples by Charles and Ray Eames, Rudolph Schindler, and Charlotte Perriand demonstrate the fusion of form and technology over the course of the 20th century. In the second suite of works, pieces by the radical Italian group Memphis and architectural firm Coop Himmelblau exhibit a distinctly exuberant yet critical embrace of color, pastiche, and history common to postmodern design in the 1970s and ’80s. The final section explores the multiplicity of contemporary graphic identity systems developed to help brand and promote the work of commercial and cultural clients.

Each of these distinct episodes is tied together by Boundary Lines, a custom-designed installation by graphic designer Amir Berbić that occupies the gallery windows overlooking Griffin Court.


This exhibition is made possible by the generous support of the Architecture & Design Society and John H. and Neville Bryan.