Skip to content
Who's in the Video
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[…]

This is the biggest and hardest question of them all, says Antonelli.

Question: What makes good design?

Antonelli: You know what makes good design is one of the biggest questions and one of the hardest questions to answer.  Sometimes people ask us, “How do you decide to put an object in the collection of MOMA?” because you know it’s a small collection.  It’s not huge.  It’s about 4,000 objects.  You can talk about anything you want – form, function, all of these different equations that have been usually . . . you know that have been given the world as possible definitions.  But the truth is this.  It’s a very complex recipe.  The world has become more complex, and you can’t anymore have an equation with just two variables.  There’s like, you know, it’s a differential equation with many variables.  What I can tell you as one of the litmus tests is think if this object were not on earth.  Would it be a pity?  Would you miss it?  I tell you that’s really interesting because it really helps.  Sometimes objects are not immediately functional.  They’re not to be sat upon, or to be used to eat, or to be used to turn on the volume.  Sometimes objects just deliver emotions or are just part of your life.  That’s also enough.  You know the moment an object seems necessary, then you can move on to judge if it’s beautiful, if it works well, if it wastes energy.  Those are all considerations.  But the idea of necessity or good addition to the world really usually works.

Up Next