Experience the Value of Good Design at the Museum of Modern Art

Recommendations by designer and avid traveler, Meltem Parlak.

With its vast and diverse exhibition history, the Museum of Modern Art has been a treasured space for viewing and engaging with contemporary art since 1929. I am an international designer, working on a new project: starting my American career in New York City. I, like many others, have come here and found my true self, both as a designer and as a woman. I’ve been inspired by the diverse cultures and important artistic and historical venues—like the MoMA. Perhaps more than any other museum in the world, MoMA has the ability to bring out the beautiful in the ordinary and the magnificence in the practical. Now through June 15th, MoMA is hosting The Value of Good Design.

Located on 53rd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenue, MoMA is at the hub of many popular destinations among tourists and locals: Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. A visit to MOMA at this time of year means grappling with the larger crowds and even busier streets of NYC in the summertime. 

Knock Knock City understands that carrying around luggage can be a drag, and they’ve got you covered. To experience the exhibition with the ease and comfort of being luggage-free, knock your bags at Al Horno Lean Mexican Kitchen in Upper Midtown before walking to MoMA. Carry less, do more, and build your own burrito before checking out a great, not-to-be-missed design exhibition.

The Value of Good Design highlights well-designed household products displayed in the MoMA from the 1930s through the 1950s. Specifically, the 2019 exhibition nods to two past exhibits, Useful Objects (1938-1948) and Good Design (1950-1955). It echoes an old question, What is good design and how can it enhance everyday life?, while posing a new question, Can designs of the past still serve a modern audience?

Of the many designs to consider at the exhibition, these are three that make it worth dropping off your bags and making the trek:

Marcello Nizzoli. Lexikon 80 Manual Typewriter. 1948
This Lexikon Typewriter is a window into the past, though its outer casting still strikes as sleek and pleasant to a modern audience. The machine was first displayed at MoMA in 1950, along with other office machines, and its combination of beauty and functionality is still undeniable.  

Richard James and Betty James. Slinky. 1945
Known worldwide for its simplicity, catchy name, and catchier jingle, the Slinky remains an iconic symbol of childhood. With over 250 million Slinkys sold since its invention, the Slinky was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 2000. Its popularity is a testimony to seeing the potential for delight in everyday objects—the Slinky was discovered as a tool on a ship before being mass-produced and marketed as a toy.

Peter Schlumbohm. Chemex Coffee Maker. 1941
This ordinary, yet potent, design is on many countertops and cafe shelves across the world. Its display in the exhibition allows visitors to consider an everyday tool as a work of intelligent, careful design. Truly a reflection of its time, this post WWI invention is renowned for its practicality, simplicity, and smart use of materials. In addition to the Chemex, the exhibition features a series of kitchenwares by Schlumbohm.

As a champion for functionality, Knock Knock City is an ideal complement to a day of admiring good design. An unencumbered stroll through the museum will leave you reevaluating the objects in your home, considering the intention behind their inception. The tagline of MoMA’s celebrated exhibition rings true: “Function combined with good taste results in good design.”  

For more information about the exhibit, check out https://www.moma.org/calendar/exhibitions/5032.  

Featured Blogger Bio: 
Meltem is a product designer at Birsel+Seck and a faculty member at Parsons School of Design. She is passionate about understanding what users need to increase the quality of their experience. She builds a deep empathy with clients to create emotional connections.

Meltem received her Master of Fine Arts from the Industrial Design Program of Parsons School of Design in New York. She holds an undergraduate degree in Industrial Design from Middle East Technical University, Ankara, which included a semester abroad to study Transportation Design at Braunschweig University of Art in Germany.