Exhibition

Designed in California

January 27–May 27, 2018

Floor 6

Exploring the shifting landscape of design in California since the digital revolution, this exhibition focuses on designs that are human-centered, socially conscious, and driven by new technological capacity. Retreating from the commercialism of Modernism’s “good design for all,” California designers in the 1960s and 70s sought to design with more political, social, and environmental awareness, as seen in the multimedia presentations of Ray and Charles Eames and AntFarm, and in the pages of the Whole Earth Catalog. A shared desire to empower the individual led to designs for “dropping out,” such as North Face’s tents and Chouinard’s climbing equipment, as well as the creation of new tools for connected living — from the first Apple desktop computer to now ubiquitous mobile devices.

The lure of being both on and off the grid at will continues to draw designers to California. Yet, the digital revolution has greatly changed design, inspiring new approaches that have helped transform the modern consumer into the digital user. Works by Sha Design and D-Rev demonstrate a focus on social impact, and new household products by fuseproject and NewDealDesign foresee a world connected and improved by the Internet of Things. The designs on view in this exhibition place California at the center of an evolving and expanding field.

Generous support for Designed in California is provided by the Elaine McKeon Endowed Exhibition Fund and Diane and Howard Zack. Additional support is provided by The Sanger Family.

Header image: Charles and Ray Eames, View from the People Wall, 1966; courtesy Eames Office and the Library of Congress; © Eames Office

Exhibition Preview

  • Irregular grid of stacks of colorful punch cards

    Charles and Ray Eames, View from the People Wall, 1966 (still); courtesy Eames Office and the Library of Congress; © Eames Office

  • ​Arthur Espenet Carpenter, Wishbone chair, 1970

    Arthur Espenet Carpenter, Wishbone chair, 1970; collection SFMOMA, Accessions Committee Fund purchase; photo: Katherine Du Tiel

  • A white mannequin wearing a futuristic wired earpiece and necklace

    Lisa Krohn, Cyberdesk, 1993; collection SFMOMA, gift of the artist; photo: Ian Reeves and Katherine Du Tiel

  • A grayscale 8-bit illustration of a desk with icons and all items labeled

    Susan Kare, Sketch for Magic Cap graphical user interface, c. 1992; courtesy the designer

  • A group of young adults sit around an indoor picnic table with an canvas srchitectural floorplan hanging over them

    Amy Franceschini and Fernando García-Dory, Land, Use, 2012–18; courtesy the designers; photo: David Brower Center

  • A man in a red t-shirt on a motorbike parked in a plant-lined paved driveway

    D-Rev, Nesa Jatiana wearing ReMotion knee prosthetic, Bali, Indonesia; courtesy D-Rev; photo: Vinesh Narayan