Thursday, August 2, 2012

Century of the Child: Growing by Design, Part II

Goldfish and jelly beans were the on the bar to celebrate The Century of The Child.
Reception and Preview
Century of the Child: Growing by Design, 1900-2000
Tuesday, July 24, 2012 at 6:30 PM at MoMA

As usual, there was an opening night party at MoMA to celebrate the opening of its newest exhibition covering the Century of the Child.

Director Glenn Lowry and curators Juliet Kinchin and Aidan O'Connor were on hand to welcome invited guests as well as several of the designers involved. In addition to Paul Reubens, aka Pee-wee Herman, there was an abundance of architects in attendance.

On a hot summer night, guests enjoyed the open bar, disco music, and canapés of Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Crackers, colorful jelly beans and Cracker Jacks.
Juliet Kinchin, the exhibition curator, outside MoMA at 6:30 waiting for the doors to open. MoMA's Special Programming and Events team: Lauren Driscoll, Nicholas Ruiz, and Pamela Eisenberg.
Nicole Stone and Ziba Cranmer. Ms. Stone was at the party because a few works by her husband's parents were part of the exhibition.
Peter and Judy Price. Sculptor Michele Oka Doner and Ashton Hawkins. Oka Doner, represented by Marlborough Gallery, is known for her public commissions such as the 'Radiant Site' at the Herald Square subway. She was profiled on NYSD, 8/24/07. Mr. Hawkins, former legal counsel for the Met Museum, is now in private practice.
There were bowls of Cracker Jacks for the child within us all.
Alex Auchincloss, who runs the family foundation named for her mother, Lily Auchincloss. The foundation helped to underwrite the exhibit. Norwegian designer Peter Opsvik, Alex Auchincloss, Todd Bishop (head of MoMA's fundraising), and Director Glenn Lowry. Mr. Opsvik is the Norwegian designer whose oversized chairs are at the entrance to the 6th floor exhibition.
Agnes Gund and Alex Auchincloss. Christophe Cherix, MoMA's Chief Curator of Prints and Illustrated Books.
My first glimpse of Paul Reubens as he stepped off the escalator onto the 6th floor and put up his hand to block me from taking a photograph. But then, he got a little friendlier.
Pee-wee poses for the photographers in front of his playhouse.
Taking some pictures to send to his Mom. Stepping back to admire the installation.
Paul Reubens greets curator Juliet Kinchin. And gives a big hug to co-curator Aidan O'Connor.
Juliet Kinchin, Paul Reubens, and Aidan O'Connor.
Victoria Wong, 28, works in MoMA's library department. "I just watched Pee-wee's Big Adventure over the weekend, which I bought at Best Buy, so I'm a proud owner of the film. This is so exciting." Pee-wee poses with another very young fan.
Mr. Reubens told me that the red door had been in such bad shape that he had to get someone to "touch it up" and that he, himself, used a hair dryer to complete the refurbishing. "You should have seen what it looked like before I fixed it," he said.
Sarah Coffin, Head of Product Design and the Decorative Arts Department at Cooper-Hewitt. She is also the curator of 17th and 18th Century Decorative Arts. "Aidan worked for me as an intern and came back to me for several pieces for this show." Barry Bergdoll is Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at MoMA. Asked by me what part he had played in this great exhibition, he replied: I didn't do anything except say yes."
The wall text for the installation of the playroom.
Janos Stone in front of his grandparent's playroom. Mr. Stone worked with his brother on this installation.
Juliet Stone, now grown up, is the little girl in the photograph above in the Life photo essay.
Janos Stone with his mother, Juliet Stone.
Richard Oldenburg, former director of MoMA, and Larry Qualls, art writer. George Kravis and Barry Bergdoll. Mr. Kravis (Henry's brother) is from Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he heads The Kravis Design Collection at the Philbrook Museum of Art.
Aidan O'Connor with her parents, Kevin and Suzanne O'Connor. Her Dad proudly showed off the inside lining of his Etro jacket.
Ivan Chermayeff, one of this century's great graphic designers. He and my husband collaborated on a wonderful children's book, Sun Moon Star (Harper Collins, 1980). Jane Clark Chermayeff is the President of Architectural Playground Equipment, Inc. Jane and her husband Ivan chaired the 40th International Design Conference in Aspen in 1990, called "Growing by Design," and its documentation is on view in the last gallery.
Jane Clark Chermayeff and Glenn Lowry. Jane Clark Chermayeff and Ed Gallagher, the President of Scandinavian House. There are lots of Swedish and Danish artists represented in The Century of the Child.
Lawrence Benenson. Barry Bergdoll with Lawrence Benenson, a MoMA trustee. Mr. Benenson got Pee-wee to sign a baseball for him.
Inscribed baseball from Pee-wee.
Pam Tanowitz, modern dance choreographer, with Raj Roy, Chief Curator of MoMA's Department of Film. Glenn Lowry with MoMA trustee, Patty de Cisneros.
Filmmaker Leigh Paterson and Tshepo Limpopo. Ms. Paterson is working on a film for her production company, Mr. Limpopo has several wire cars he made on exhibit. I told him he needed to google Alexander Calder. Daniela Stigh, former press office at MoMA and now with Rubenstein Communications, with her son Liam.
Curators Aidan O'Connor and Juliet Kinchin greet Kate Kolchin, 91, a woman who had campaigned for children all her life. Ms. Kolchin, a representative of OMEP to Unicef, is still working.
Juliet Kinchin, Kate Kolchin, and UNICEF's Desma Deitz. Ms. Kolchin is being shown the multiple UNICEF items on display. Desma Deitz is the Marketing Manager for UNICEF. I worked with the museum's curators to help secure a lot of the items for the show."
School-in-a-Box is a compact metal case containing the materials for a makeshift school for eighty students, including writing materials, teaching clock, tape measure, scissors, plastic blocks for counting, and exercise books.

The box itself is robust enough to withstand shipment and lockable for safe storage, and the inside of the lid can be coated with chalkboard paint, which is provided. Thanks to designs such as this, education continues to play a part in emergency response; children can be gathered in safe spaces where positive development and a comforting sense of normalcy are provided.

Aid organizations such as UNICEF rely on the logic and methodical structure of design thinking in the development of new tools for providing aid in situations of disaster and conflict.
When I told Ms. Kolchin that my knees were killing me — from photographing at MoMA since 10 AM that morning she offered to give me a ride in her walker.
Inspired Gifts: Ready-to-Use
Therapeutic Food (RUTF) and
Suspended Baby Scale
U.S. Fund for UNICEF

Top left: One laptop per child, USA est. 2005. The XO Laptop is an inexpensive computer for children in the developing world. It was specifically adapted to the needs and habits of children: it is the size of a textbook and lighter than a lunch box, with soft edges, a handle, and a rubber keyboard; it is recyclable, drop-proof, splash-proof, and dust- proof; it can be manually recharged; and its wireless antennae resemble playful rabbit ears.

More than seven hundred thousand of these laptops have been distributed in schools.

UNICEF's Inspired Gifts series of products and kits support nutrition, vaccination, and education for children in need.

Some of the items displayed here and others are available for purchase at
At top left: pouches with ready-to-eat baby food. Center: A suspending baby scale for weighing babies in a pouch.

In the foreground is a UNICEF poster, Bad Water Kills More Kids Than War.

Distributed by UNICEF United Nations Children's Fund (est. 1946), the photograph by Henrik Halvarsson is of a child shooting herself with a water pistol.
Detail of UNICEF poster, Bad Water Kills More Kids Than War.
Children's books are in abundance, tethered to various tables and benches throughout the sixth floor.
Belle and Bliss Beyer, who are 10 and 12.
How often do you take a picture of a girl named Bliss reading a page like this?
Belle and Bliss with their parents, Loren Pack and Rob Beyer.
Mark Mitton is one of the country's top magicians — a master of card tricks. He has three gigs coming up in East Hampton. one of which is for Alec Baldwin.

Meriam Good is the Executive Director of the Mind Science Foundation in San Antonio.
Stefan Casseus is a bartender at Acme in NoHo and his best friend Christine Ferreira is a model with Wilhelmina. What's his favorite drink? "To make, a vodka and soda. To drink, an old-fashioned with an orange and a lemon twist." Lily Kyons, Director of External Affairs for the Calder Foundation.
Architect William Ryall, who has designed one of the first passive houses in America.

The term passive house (Passivhaus in German) refers to the rigorous, voluntary, Passivhaus standard for energy efficiency in a building, reducing its ecological footprint. It results in ultra-low energy buildings that require little energy for space heating or cooling.
William Ryall, Cathleen McGuigan (Editor of Architecture Record), and architect Charles Warren.
The gift shop was open for business.
Playing with an original Hoberman Sphere, on sale in the gift shop.
Rich Perusi and Katie Hertel. Ms. Hertel is an Interactive Producer for, who worked on the exhibition website for MoMA.
Jane Chermayeff looks on as Dr. Laura Dattner, a pediatrician, interacts with the Wasserstrudel installation, which is part of the exhibition.

Sadly, this installation is difficult to find. It's way over to the left (near the rest rooms) as you face the wall mural prior to entering the galleries (which you enter on the right). In fact, I would never have seen it if Jane had not brought me over to have a look, because she owns the piece and loaned it to MoMA.

This Wasserstrudel (Water Swirl) belongs to a series of sculptural play-work stations, still in production by Richter Spielgeräte GmbH, called "Play Stations for Developing the Senses according to Hugo Kükelhaus." Jane's company represents Kükelhaus designs.

The design is adapted from the bicycle-powered original (seen in the drawing displayed below), which made its international debut in the German pavilion at Expo 67, in Montreal.

Kükelhaus, a master carpenter who studied sociology, philosophy, mathematics, and physiology in Heidelberg, designed these interactive stations in the 1960s to create "experience fields" to illuminate aspects of natural science, such as gravity and balance, sound and hearing, and color and sight.
Richard Dattner watches as his daughter Laura Dattner creates a whirlpool within the sculpture.

Mr. Dattner is an architect and has done a great deal of work for children — including playgrounds (six in Central Park), schools, and medical units (

His list of playground activities was in the exhibit and one of his projects, the Habitot, was to be included as well but was unfortunately pulled at the last minute.
Hugo Kükelhaus
German, 1900-1984

Design for a bicycle-powered Wasserstrudel
(Water Swirl)
Designed for Expo 67, Montreal
Colored pencil on paper
Lily Vonnegut photographed by Jill Krementz on a swing in Sagaponack; September 1, 1985.

"Life Without a Swing is a Misunderstanding" – Hugo Kükelhaus

(Mr. Kükelhaus is the designer of the Wasserstrudel installation on view at MoMA. Jane Chermayeff is reprinting a book by Kükelhaus, Inhuman Architecture, and this is the opening line.)
Click here for Part 1 of Century of the Child: Growing by Design, 1900-2000.

Text and photographs © by Jill Krementz: all rights reserved.