Paola Antonelli is an Italian-born curator at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and one of the world’s foremost experts on contemporary architecture and design. She received her MA in Architecture from Milan Polytechnic in 1990, and worked at the design magazines Domus and Abitare before coming to MoMA in 1994. At MoMA, where serves as curator for the Department of Architecture and Design, Antonelli has been a strong of advocate of treating design as art: she’s written that "everything is designed, one way or another.” Antonelli is known for her eclecticism, and has curated well-received shows such as Workspheres (2001), devoted to the workplace of the near future. Her recent exhibit SAFE included – among other materials – a UN refugee tarp, camouflage cream, and a baby buggy. Antonelli has taught design history and theory at UCLA and Harvard and is the author of Humble Masterpieces: Everyday Marvels of Design, and co-author of 2008 book Design and the Elastic Mind.
Question: Is contemporary design green enough?
Antonelli: Designers are always thinking – if they’re good – in economical terms. So they are always thinking of objects that fit within the balance and the economy of the world. So I would say that most of the designers that I respect and that I hold in high esteem are thinking in environmentally conscious terms. The problem is that they are professionals for hire. And it’s not that they always find clients with the same goals and the same motivations. So what they are doing is they are educating their clients. Some are more successful than others. And they are trying to push from within towards a more environmentally conscious industry altogether. So some designers already have some work to show for themselves. Others have less, but I tell you they already think in those terms. And they were thinking of the whole lifecycle of their objects from the beginning.