There is no doubt that space that has no use except for feeding our head, heart and soul, will be the ultimate luxury in expanding cities of the future.
Recently the Cooper Hewitt Museum in New York has reinvented itself for the contemporary age, by conquering space, ensuring that what they have in such a bustling city as New York is utilized for the benefit of all.
Re-opening after being closed for three years for restoration, revamping and revival of its grandest rooms this stunning museum space will be sure to ‘…inspire and empower people…’.
The all new Cooper-Hewitt is the ‘practical working laboratory for learning about the ‘art of decoration’ its two original benefactors wanted it to be when established in 1897 by Sarah and Eleanor Hewitt, daughters of industrialist Peter Cooper. They endowed this museum, which was sited within one of the famous mansions making up ‘Millionaire’s Row’, located on 91st street and 5th Avenue corner. It was the first house in America to have a ‘structural steel frame’, an elevator as well as heating and cooling technologies.
Now it is all about modern technologies; showcasing well thought out integrated contemporary spaces that will contribute through design to thought provoking experiences.
A priority for this landmark renovation has been bringing the past and future together through stunning 21st century design.
Design is about doing, not just looking and here’s a museum full of very cool new features,with tons of ‘apps for that’.
The new design also honours Modernism, highlighting the most important feature of great architecture would be to fully experience moving through space and interacting with it.
The idea behind the building’s reincarnation was to challenge the public to think about the importance and influence of design in all our lives.
The experience begins with each visitor being given a new device, a pen.
This is no ordinary pen, when you touch it to the labels on display cases it saves them to an online account. It means you can look them up again later, exploring them in more depth and sharing them with friends if you wish.
The pen is a bridge between what’s on show and what’s in storage too, with some 188,000 objects to explore.
There are interactive tables throughout all the rooms with touch screens allowing you to be immersed in the physical experience. Not just one but many firms, each with varying areas of expertise were involved in the museum’s reinvention.
Designed for steel magnate Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) one of the so-called ‘Robber Barons’, who with his colleagues John D Rockefeller and Cornelius Vanderbilt monopolized the industrial age in America, the mansion was originally the “most modest, plainest, and most roomy house in New York”.
Rarely would so many good designers, engineers, contractors, subcontractors and consultants work together as any good choir would, in harmony while gaining momentum so they can give an outstanding performance collectively.
Those involved included a trio of architect planners; Gluckmany Mayner Architects, Beyer Blinder Belle Architects and Planners, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, together with Hood Design, as well as those who deal with interactive media, the institution’s website and digitalizing their collections
The new technologies offer a way of accessing some 200,000 objects and assessing them in light of personal experiences.
By employing a ‘user centered approach to design, by studying people’s movements and behaviours before endeavouring to design products to suit, it provides as an example links to explore between a thermostat, a wheelchair, prosthetic arm and razors.
Sharing ideas, pooling resources and improved communication are important tools allowing us all today a unique opportunity to have a greater understanding about how good design works and how it ensures services provided can be much more efficient.
It’s all about ‘game changers’ offering choices that empower people and communities to transform and grow while helping improve the state of our world by emboldening and ennobling humanity.
It is cohesive effort that is true to the Cooper Hewitt Museum’s needs. It builds on the Carnegie Mansion’s original strengths, which become a springboard for engaging us all, allowing us to trust that tradition and technology will be able to unite as one, benefiting us all.
This is a splendid museum to visit next time you are in New York. It will provide a highly personal and individual experience, revelling in its up close and personal approach.
It is a place where individually we can all feel as if the exhibitions on show have been designed, as we would wish them to be personally; interactive and intimately.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2014