Design Observer has just posted a comprehensive (and inspiring) report on April's symposium in Bellagio, sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation and organized by Winterhouse Institute. Here's the start:
Organized by William Drenttel, director of Winterhouse Institute and editorial director of the Design Observer Group, and Julie Lasky, editor of Change Observer, Reasons Not to Be Pretty: Symposium on Design, Social Change and the "Museum" grew out of the observation that scores of museums throughout the world showcase contemporary design and architecture. Such institutions remind the public of the skill that goes into making functional objects and their power to influence daily life. And yet, despite efforts to highlight design as an outgrowth of custom and a vivid reflection of community, very few museums concern themselves with social change. Instead, they are traditionally associated with high aesthetics, encapsulated in everything from Mackintosh chairs to Alessi teapots. Of the cultural institutions that have taken the lead in social change, museums of science and natural history seem to be well ahead of their design colleagues.
This is not only a missed opportunity to educate a museum's constituencies about important contemporary themes and to promote actions with social value. It also casts a distorted perception of design's actual and potential contribution to the world.
Read the entire report here.
(I was privileged to be the moderator of the symposium; you can find my reflections here.)