The Met’s New Children’s Studio Is a Sprawling Play Space, and Other News 

Our daily look at the world through the lens of design.

The Design Dispatch offers expertly written and essential news from the design world crafted by our dedicated team. Think of it as your cheat sheet for the day in design delivered to your inbox before you’ve had your coffee. Subscribe now

Have a news story our readers need to see? Submit it here

At the Met’s New 81st Street Studio, Touching the Art Is Encouraged

Children have long delighted in exploring the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s hallowed halls, from the Egyptian art department’s majestic Temple of Dendur to the multitude of period rooms. For the most part, though, touching the art has been strictly off-limits. Those rules don’t apply at the 81st Street Studio, the Manhattan institution’s recently opened interactive space aimed at engaging younger audiences. The 3,500-square-foot studio, a dynamic garden-like space envisioned by KOKO Architecture + Design, features an array of decidedly hands-on activities meant to teach children about the museum’s collection at their own pace, including a thermo-chromatic wall, an eight-foot-long guitar made with Yamaha, and pillows scented with sandalwood. 

Heidi Holder, the museum’s chair of education, envisions the studio as a gateway to lifelong museum engagement through moments of “subtle magic.” It incorporates cutting-edge digital technology designed by local firm Bluecadet, including interactive tables where kids can simulate woodblock printing or drum-making. These digital stations offer a tactile link to the museum’s collection, showing images of related artworks. “We’re not trying to make a kids’ museum here,” Adam Weintraub, who co-founded KOKO with his wife, Mishi Hosono, told the New York Times. “We’re really trying to always tie it back to what’s upstairs.” With its ever-changing focus—starting with wood and potentially moving to metal or robotics—the studio encourages repeat visits and ongoing exploration. —Ryan Waddoups

The Palm Springs Art Museum is relocating the Aluminaire House to Coachella Valley.

In 1931, the Aluminaire House, designed by architects Albert Frey and A. Lawrence Kocher, made its debut at the Architectural League of New York, marking the first-ever all-metal house and a leap in affordable housing solutions. Fast forward to today, and the Palm Springs Art Museum is dedicating a permanent exhibition to this groundbreaking project. The museum has already secured $2.3 million of the $2.6 million needed for relocating the house from New York to California. The exhibition is set to open in February and will be part of the museum’s broader commitment to preserving architecture and design legacies. Initially built in upstate New York, the house was saved from neglect in 1986 by architects Frances Campani and Michael Schwarting and later moved to Coachella Valley. The logistics for the upcoming exhibition and relocation are being managed by museum board members L.J. Cella and Leo Marmol of Marmol Radziner.

Artists call on Congress to stop corporations from copyrighting AI-generated art.

Fight for the Future, a digital rights group, is spearheading the AI Day of Action to combat corporate profiteering from AI-generated art. The initiative is calling on artists and allies to raise awareness on social media and directly contact their congresspeople. The focus is on copyright law, which has traditionally protected only “human authors,” a point recently affirmed by a U.S. District Court. The campaign comes in response to the rise of generative AI models like DALL-E and Stable Diffusion, which have used artists’ work without consent for training. San Francisco–based artist Karla Ortiz warned that such AI could make earning a living impossible for artists. Pattern designer Tanya Heidrich also expressed concerns that companies could bypass human artists by licensing AI-generated designs. Fight for the Future’s campaign director, Lia Holland, emphasized the need for legislative action to protect artists from being marginalized by corporate interests. The U.S. Copyright Office and the Federal Trade Commission are also seeking public input on the impact of AI on creative fields.

At 50 stories, the world’s tallest timber building may soon rise in Western Australia.

The C6 building in South Perth is set to break records as the world’s tallest timber structure, reaching a height of 627 feet and surpassing the current tallest timber building in Wisconsin. Developed by Grange Development and designed by Fraser and Partners, the project will consist of 42 percent timber, including beams, floor panels, and linings, and aims to be carbon negative. The building, which will feature more than 200 apartments, will utilize sustainable materials like glued laminated timber and cross-laminated timber, reducing the need for steel and concrete. While the developers claim the timber could be regrown in just 59 minutes from a sustainably farmed forestry region, critics question timber’s long-term carbon sustainability. The project aims to shift the construction industry’s approach to sustainability, especially significant given that construction accounts for 11 percent of global carbon emissions.

London’s Design Museum is preparing a major Barbie retrospective to open next year.

Next year, London’s Design Museum will host a major retrospective to mark Barbie’s 65th anniversary and highlight the doll’s enduring impact on design and culture. The show, curated by Danielle Thom, has been in preparation for three years and will delve into Barbie’s multifaceted history, covering aspects from fashion and architecture to furniture and vehicles. The museum team has gained exclusive access to the Barbie archives in California, and the exhibition will feature a mix of rare archival items, museum acquisitions, and private loans. Originating in 1959 from the vision of Ruth Handler, Barbie was designed not just as a toy but also as a model for her daughter Barbara, offering children a different narrative. Over the years, the doll has become a cultural cornerstone, empowering children to challenge stereotypes and envision a broader range of professional and personal opportunities. 

Beverly Willis, a trailblazing advocate for gender equality in architecture, dies at 95.

Beverly Willis, a trailblazing architect and activist, died at 95 in her Connecticut home. She founded the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation in 2002 with the initial aim of getting women architects recognized in history books. The foundation later broadened its mission to improve the visibility and influence of women in architecture and related fields. Willis was not just an advocate but also a filmmaker, directing several short films about women architects. She faced numerous challenges throughout her life, including spending part of the Great Depression in an orphanage and learning trades like wiring and welding during World War II. Despite never attending architecture school, she opened her own office in San Francisco in 1958, taking on a wide range of projects and even developing software for town planning. She was a tireless promoter for gender equality in architecture, earning numerous awards and changing the industry’s culture for women.

Today’s attractive distractions:

Here’s how Chipotle built Hyphen, the chain’s burrito-bowl-assembling robot.

Are rats truly less pestilent and more lovable than we make them out to be?

Damien Hirst’s sculpture of Medusa inspires a pricey new pudding in London. 

Fewer drivers have the patience to wait in drive-thru lines, which are shrinking.

All Stories