The Agenda: Cooper Hewitt National Design Awards, Laguna Art Museum Centennial, and “Designed in California”



Cooper Hewitt National Design Awards

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum is celebrating its National Design Award winners right here on the West Coast. Cooper Hewitt Director Caroline Baumann will congratulate the honorees, who include everyone from Hartmut Esslinger, founder of frog design (lifetime achievement award), to publisher and EIC of Metropolis magazine Susan Szenasy. Bay Area talent did not go unnoticed in this year’s considerations. Local stars include James Lord, founding principal of Surfacedesign, who will take home the award for landscape architecture and Eric Rodenbeck, creative director of Stamen Design, who nabbed honors for interaction design. Tickets are free, but you must RSVP by January 22 to attend.  

When: 6:30 – 8:30 p.m., Wed. 1/24 

Where: DWR San Francisco Studio, 200 Kansas St., San Francisco



Rat Bastards 

Mark your calendar for a trip to the Hammer Museum and head straight to the museum store before the end of the month. Fashion creative Lisa Eisner and her artist son Louis have curated a shop-in-shop called Rat Bastards (a reference to an informal club Bruce Conner dreamed up in the 1950s), where they’ve stocked colorful offbeat finds like a rainbow of steering wheels from hot-rod body shop Mooneyes, vintage T-shirts and posters from the photographer Bruce Weber’s personal collection, and Lisa’s own Navajo-style jewelry. You’ll find the pop-up through a set of Japanese door curtains painted by Louis, past the museum’s main bookstore. Everything is indeed shoppable, but you’ll find the store more art installation than retail boutique. 

When: Through 1/31 

Where: Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles


Laguna Art Museum


Laguna Art Museum Centennial Bash 

The stunning Laguna Art Museum dates back to 1918, when it was founded by artist Edgar Payne. In 1929, the museum opened a grand, custom-built gallery which survives within the present building to this day. And unlike any other museum in the state, it only collects California art. In honor of this impressive legacy, the museum is hosting a year-long series of exhibitions, special events, programs, and celebrations, starting with this month’s centennial bash. Art enthusiasts will be delighted by site-specific installations from artists Megan Heckler, Elizabeth Turk, and FriendsWithYou, the L.A.-based art collective known for its whimsical interactive designs most recently on view at the Oakland Museum of California. And a party wouldn’t be complete without live music—from Matt Costa and DJ Nina Tarr—and drinks, which include cocktails, plus a craft beer tasting by Laguna Beach Beer Company.

When: 8 p.m. – midnight, Sat. 1/27 

Where: Laguna Art Museum, 307 Cliff Dr., Laguna Beach



“Designed in California”

Given its extensive history as a design and technology hub, SFMOMA’s latest exhibit reaches as far back as the digital revolution to illustrate the state’s position as a design leader. Focused on innovations that are human-centered and socially conscious, the survey includes politically and environmentally aware pieces by Ray and Charles Eames from the 1960s and 1970s, along with the North Face’s tents and Chouinard’s climbing equipment, which made it possible to excel in the outdoor arena. Also on display are household products by fuseproject and NewDealDesign, which envision the home as a smart hub connected by the internet. The show wouldn’t be complete, of course, without innovations from the likes of Apple’s first desktop computers to its latest do-it-all smartphones. 

When: Sat. 1/27–Sun. 5/27 

Where: SFMOMA, 151 Third St., San Francisco



“Be Not Still: Living in Uncertain Times” (Part 1)

Delayed due to the North Bay wildfires last fall, di Rosa’s groundbreaking show finally makes its big debut. Three artists take a deep dive into the current political climate through a series of site-specific commissions that examine themes of citizenship, North American fundamentalism, and American exceptionalism. Ala Ebtekar projects celestial images onto ceramic tiles in a mosaic pattern reminiscent of Persian mosque architecture as a way to challenge the notions of space, time, boundaries, and borders. Through tactile sculptures, Smith explores how patriotism might be viewed in a different light from various perspectives. And Rigo 23 uses a reversed American flag to look at the relationship between political and economic leadership within a long-term view of life on Earth. It’s heady and it’s well worth the trip up to Napa. 

When: Sat. 1/27–Sun. 5/27 

Where: di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art, 5200 Carneros Hwy., Napa



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