Connected by Design. Bob Greenberg, cofounder of the digital advertising agency R/GA and 2003 winner of the National Design Award for Communication, brings together 42 innovative works from Cooper Hewitt’s collection, in addition to works from his personal archive, to explore creativity in the age of technology. Technology is always evolving, and the pace of change has become staggering. As it evolves, technology also disrupts–challenging our expectations for how an object functions. For instance, innovations in computer processors, materials science, and communications infrastructure drove the development from the first handheld cellular phone–Motorola’s Dynatac 8000x (1983) to the multifunctional Samsung Galaxy Note 8 (2017). Disruption also generates novel collaborations between industries, such as fashion and mechanical engineering with the Nike+ Fuelband (2012). As we have entered the connected age, new disciplines, like experience and interface design, have opened up new creative collaborations. As technology becomes ever more complex, designers consistently rely on a set of clarifying ground rules, such as working reductively to find the essence of a form and centering on a user’s needs. Guiding principles like these have shaped the design of objects in this gallery and the innovative work pioneered by R/GA. Presented in four groupings—Dieter Rams’s Ten Principles for Good Design, Connected Devices, Disruptive Innovations, and Measurement and Calculation—these examples of multidisciplinary design from around the world illustrate through form, style, and function how technological innovation has advanced over the last 65 years.
With the intent to design a piece of “totally humanized” office technology, Bellini attracted a new breed of consumer with the Divisumma 18 calculator’s colorful, tactile form. The stylish design made use of revolutionary synthetics like ABS plastic, melamine resin, and an inviting rubberized skin covering the keyboard buttons. Produced in a bright golden hue, it sat smartly on desks as a reminder of the sense of play that design could bring to even the most formal environments.
The design team studied the measurements of over 2,000 human faces to find an optimal size and shape for the Model 500 handset. The new design was smaller and lighter and could be conveniently cradled between the head and shoulder. The designers fondly called the handset a “lumpy rectangle.” Offering the phone in multiple colors encouraged users—especially women—to see it as part of home decoration.
The multitasking tool of the digital age, the iPhone has a light, well-balanced rectangular form that fits neatly in the hand. No tool has fulfilled as many functions or been accessible to such a range of users. Operated by simple finger gestures—swipe, pinch, drag—the iPhone transforms itself, without changing shape, into hundreds of different tools: a camera, flashlight, GPS device,.