During the summer I found myself in the fortunate position of being in New York with both time and money! (Unlike the last time, where I only had time…)
While I was there I visited the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian, Design Museum- America’s only museum dedicated solely to historic and contemporary design.
I have to say before going on, that I highly recommend it! It was great. It had a wide range of design exhibits featuring art installations, new technologies, architecture, interior design and fashion. On top of all that, there was also a Pixar exhibit on while I was there which looked specifically at how Pixar animators design characters. Again, it was fab, definitely go if you like design and are in New York.
One of the things that I enjoyed most about the museum though, was their interactive pen!
The ‘Cooper Hewitt Pen’, as I’ve labelled it, was a stylus type device that allowed you not only to interact with the numerous touch screens around the museum, (they allowed you to find out more information about exhibits and let you design your own objects. You drew them and then there were rendered and inserted into context ready for other people to view!Wild!), but also enabled you to ‘save’ things you liked.
When you buy your ticket and get your pen, you also get a code which you use later to view your visit on their website. Then as you walk around the museum you can ‘save’ exhibits you like to your visit account, so that you can revisit them when you go home. The days of coming out of a museum and forgetting the vast majority of things you’ve just seen, and appearing uncultured and ignorant as a result are long gone my friend!
I think it’s brilliant. In most of these blog posts I’ve been thinking about ‘Great Design’ and what makes something great? Well I think the Cooper Hewitt pen is a really interesting example of ‘Great Design’.
It was one of the most memorable pieces of design I saw that day. Not only was it a unique and novel idea but it also allowed me to enjoy the museum more,in the moment. I didn’t feel like I had to go around talking pictures of everything or carefully reading every single word to make sure I remembered it because I knew I could just save it for later. It was so easy to use as well, and it got everyone in the museum to really interact with the exhibits, and a lot of the kids were really excited by the ability the pen gave them to design and share something of their own.
I also found that being able to save things also made my think more about what I was looking at and reading, I didn’t want to save everything, so I actually gave a fair amount of thought to what I was actually interested in and wanted to revisit.
I really believe that this pen, simple as it might appear, added to and improved my visit enormously and this is largely why I consider it to be great design.