Categories DesignPosted on

We Are All Californians: California Designing Freedom

What do LSD, surfboards, iPhones and start-up garages all have in common? California. From 24th May to 15th October, the Design Museum will host an exhibition called ‘California Designing Freedom’ which explores how ‘designed in California’ expresses a distinctive approach to design and life.

Shepard Fairey. We the People 2017
Shepard Fairey. We the People 2017
Corita Kent Power Up
Corita Kent Power Up
Corita Kent Power Up
Corita Kent Power Up
Corita Kent Power Up
Corita Kent Power Up
Corita Kent Power Up
Corita Kent Power Up

Amongst the rare exhibits on display – which include political posters and personal computers – are hand-drawn sketches of the Apple Macintosh’s icons, concept artwork for Blade Runner, and, for the first time in the UK, Waymo’s self-driving car (formerly the Google self-driving car project). Over 200 objects designed from the 1960s onwards have been curated by Justin McGuirk and Brendan McGetrick to show how ‘Made in California’ has shaped some of our most common daily habits, expanding the way we think about design.

Thumb logo by Facebook
Thumb logo by Facebook

California: Designing Freedom is composed of over 200 objects, curated in five thematic sections, highlighting the fact that design in California is distinguished by an emphasis on individual freedom. The exhibition’s five themes explore different facets of individual freedom. These are:

GO WHERE YOU WANT: Tools of movement and escape focuses on mobility, from navigation to portability and exploration. Exhibits include Waymo’s self-driving car, the first consumer GPS device and a replica of the Captain America chopper from Easy Rider.

Waymo's prototype
Waymo’s prototype

SEE WHAT YOU WANT: Tools of perception and fantasy explores how California has pioneered new ways of looking at the world, from acid trips to virtual reality. Exhibits include Syd Mead’s artwork for Blade Runner, LSD blotting paper and early videogame graphics.

The sorcerer's apprentice LSD Blotter paper. Credit Institute of Illegal Images
The sorcerer’s apprentice LSD Blotter paper. Credit Institute of Illegal Images

SAY WHAT YOU WANT: Tools of self-expression and rebellion is a review of the state’s culture of communication through posters, magazines and online platforms. Exhibits include Emory Douglas’s Black Panther posters, David Carson’s design for Ray Gun magazine and Twitter’s interface design.

Yes, People like us credit Corita Art Center
Yes, People like us credit Corita Art Center
Collection of the Oakland Museum of California
Collection of the Oakland Museum of California

MAKE WHAT YOU WANT: Tools of production and self-reliance features tools that have made ‘making’ easier and more accessible, from the Whole Earth Catalog, the counterculture’s bible of self-sufficiency, to the Apple Macintosh and the open-source tools of the ‘maker’ culture. Exhibits include an original Apple 1 computer, IDEO’s voting booth for Los Angeles County and a home kit for genetic engineering.

Image credit: The ODIN
Image credit: The ODIN

JOIN WHO YOU WANT: Tools of collaboration and community examines tools that enable communities on the ground and online. Exhibits include a geodesic dome, Sussman Prejza’s designs for the 1984 LA Olympics and documentation of the early Burning Man festivals.

Diverse, engaging, revolutionary and addictive, Californian design has impacted so many aspects of our lives. After visiting California: Designing Freedom, you’ll understand how this culture of design and technology has made us all, in certain ways, Californians.

designmuseum.org

the Design Museum
224-238 Kensington High Street,
London
W8 6AG

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