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Nature: Collaborations in Design

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Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial

Designers today are striving to transform our relationship with the natural world.

Although humans are intrinsically linked to nature, our actions have frayed this relationship, forcing designers to think more intentionally and to consider the impact of every design decision, from an artifact's manufacture and use to its obsolescence.

As a result, designers are aligning with biologists, engineers, agriculturists, environmentalists and many other specialists to design a more harmonious and regenerative future.

Based on these new partnerships, designers are asking different questions and anticipating future challenges, which not only change the design process, but also what design means.

Nature: Collaborations in Design—companion to an exhibition titled NatureCooper Hewitt Design Triennial, co-organized with Cube design museum—includes over 65 international projects from the fields of architecture, product design, landscape design, fashion, interactive and communication design, and material research.

More than 300 compelling and exquisite photographs, illustrations and content from data visualizations illustrate seven essays, which explain and explore designers' strategies around understanding, simulating, salvaging, facilitating, augmenting, remediating and nurturing nature.

Four conversations between scientists and designers—including George Church with Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, and Michael John Gorman with Koert van Mensvoort—delve into topics related to synthetic biology, scientific versus design lexicon and recent shifts in the meaning of nature. A glossary illuminates scientific, technological and theoretical concepts and processes invoked by the designers.

Projects include DnA_Design and Architecture's Bamboo Theater; Open Agriculture Initiative's Personal Food Computers; Warka Water's Warka Water Tower; Sam Van Aken's Tree of 40 Fruit; the ODIN's DIY Bacterial Gene Engineering CRISPR Kit; Michael Strano and Sheila Kennedy's Nanobionic Light-Emitting Plants; MASS Design Group's Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture; Stamen Design's Metagenomic Data Visualization for the Banfield Lab; Modern Meadow's Zoa; Cave Architects' Anthropocene Museum and Kim Albrecht's Visualizing the Cosmic Web.

Foreword by Caroline Baumann and Hans Gubbels. Text by Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, George Church, Suzanne Lee, Nadine Bongaerts, Michael John Gorman, Koert van Mensvoort, Alejandro Vial, Guillermo Parada, and Tamara Pérez

Edited by Caitlin Condell, Andrea Lipps, Matilda McQuaid, Gene Bertrand, and Hans Gubbels. 

Designed by Neil Donnelly and Ben Fehrman-Lee

Published by the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, 2019

Softcover, 240 pages, 300 color images, 8.25 × 11.5 inches

ISBN: 978-1-94-230323-7