Quarantine Culture: 5 Ways to Experience Design and Art Without Leaving Your Home

Vitra’s documentary about the chair, the Whitney hosts an artmaking workshop, and more.

Though the novel coronavirus has shown signs of slowing down, the cultural sector remains at a standstill: Museums and galleries are shuttered in many countries, and fairs and festivals have been canceled. At the advice of experts, people are hunkering down to self-quarantine and practice social distancing. The situation is evolving quickly, a new reality is being forced upon us, and fields like architecture and painting can seem trivial. And yet, at moments of such isolation and crisis, art, design, and performance can offer powerful means of connection—and a welcome escape from the disorienting present. With exhibitions and concerts called off, our editors survey five low-risk ways to experience culture—from Instagram discussion series to a design-themed crossword puzzle, and more.

Les Arcanistes by Studiopepe, which won Best Design Collaboration 2020 at the Createurs Design Awards

Createurs Live

The Createurs Design Awards brings together the people who drive vision and create extraordinary work in the interior design, product design, and architecture industries. Yuri Xavier, the program’s founder, is committed to that vision, even when social distancing keeps the industry physically separated. The program has launched Createurs Live, a series of Instagram Live talks with key design industry professionals like Andres Reisinger, Aric Chen, and Christiane Lemieux, who discuss how the community plans to move forward after the pandemic. Through the talks, Xavier not only ascertains how the industry has pivoted in response to coronavirus, but taps into something greater—how art and design has become an invaluable tool to cope and overcome unforeseen challenges. The conversations, which are surprisingly candid, last around 15 minutes each.  


Vitra Design Museum: Chair Times

“Chairs are important historical artifacts,” says Rolf Fehlbaum. “They are portraits of their users and reflect the production techniques with which they were created. I would go as far as to say that no other everyday object is so multi-faceted.” Throughout this 90-minute documentary, which was directed by Heinz Bütler, Fehlbaum charts a course through the development of more than two centuries of seating furniture. Forming a timeline of modern seating design, Vitra’s chairman emeritus examines 125 key objects from the Vitra Design Museum, whose extensive archives comprise early Thonets and Panton prototypes to newer 3D-printed innovations. His illuminating conversations with design luminaries Hella Jongerius, Antonio Citterio, and David Chipperfield make the case that no other object exemplifies the production techniques, social structures, and fashions of the era quite like the humble chair. Stream the movie for free here.


Aspen Art Museum: Slow.Look.Live

Like most fine art institutions, the Aspen Art Museum’s curators have been rethinking how art can be made and experienced during this period of unprecedented physical distancing. One fruit of their labor is Slow.Look.Live, a virtual interview series that brings together artists, curators, and thinkers to reflect on how perception and creation are being shaped by our current geography. This week’s edition, held on Friday, May 15, at 4 PM MDT on the museum’s Instagram Live and Stories, features Aspen Art Museum exhibiting artist Oscar Murillo, who delves into the idea of being grounded as he spends his time in his small hometown in the mountains of Colombia. Next week, expect a guided looking experience courtesy of the artist Teresa Booth Brown, who will also discuss her practice, influences, and current projects.


Suite NY Crossword Challenge

If you’re anything like us, you’re probably running out of exciting things to bake, read, and watch during the ongoing shelter-in-place orders. Luckily, Suite NY has devised a tricky brain-teasing activity that will put your design knowledge to the test for the better part of an afternoon. The New York furniture showroom has created a design-themed crossword puzzle tailored specifically for the utmost of connoisseurs—hints like “The SK207 is crafted by employing the ____ technique” and “Signe + Peter = What design duo?” maintain a high level of difficulty.  Those who complete the crossword by May 15 will be entered into a drawing to win a 60th anniversary edition of Arne Jacobsen’s Swan Chair, which will come with pure aniline leather and a special base plated in 23 karat gold.


Whitney From Home

While the Whitney’s physical location remains closed, its website is proving to be a treasure trove of community engagement. The museum has launched Whitney Wednesdays, a live conversation series that brings together diverse voices from the creative community to discuss art, life, and everything in between. This upcoming week features what promises to be a stimulating conversation between artist Glenn Ligon and curator Scott Rothkopf, who helped organize Ligon’s incisive mid-career survey in 2011. Other upcoming events include a Zoom forum about the origins of video art and an artmaking workshop in which participants create a monument for essential workers.

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