Space-age bachelor pads, minimalist utopias for wannabe Cleaver clans, sleek love nests for wildly glam mad men – these still seductive images of all-American postwar modern design are given a new twist in the Contemporary Jewish Museum’s “Designing Home: Jews and Midcentury Modernism.”
Jewish designers, architects and patrons such as Richard Neutra, Anni Albers and Edgar Kaufmann Jr. get the nod by way of photographs, furniture, textiles, tableware and Judaica in what looks to be the first major exhibition of its kind, alongside lesser-known figures like textile designer Ruth Adler Schnee and graphic designer Elaine Lustig Cohen, now 87.
We spoke to guest curator Donald Albrecht from NYC.
Q: How did “Designing Home” come together?
A: The Jewish Museum thought up the idea, and I think they approached me because I’ve done a lot of exhibitions on midcentury architecture and design. They sought to put design in a social and cultural context. It was really a fascinating project: It provided, for me, at least, a totally new take on a subject that I know pretty well, and it was particularly challenging to figure out what the story was.