California: Designing Freedom (Exhibition at the Design Museum)
I visited this exhibition at the Design Museum several times. It shows how California has given a sense of freedom through many different artefacts ranging from the first iPhone, to Google Earth, to the Pride Flag and Waymo self-drivng Cars.
“Designed in California” is the new “Made in Italy”. While California’s mid-century modernism is well documented, this is the first exhibition to examine its current global reach. Picking up the story in the 1960s, the exhibition charts the journey from the counterculture to Silicon Valley’s tech culture.
The central premise is that California has pioneered tools of personal liberation, from LSD to surfboards and iPhones. This ambitious survey brings together political posters and portable devices, but also looks beyond hardware to explore how user interface designers in the San Francisco Bay Area are shaping some of our most common daily experiences. By turns empowering, addictive and troubling, Californian products have affected our lives to such an extent that in some ways we are all now Californians.
On display was a single graphic from Susan Kare. It was the Happy Mac Icon. The design museum was also selling postcards of her work. It wasn't heavily featured as part of the exhibition but something about it really grabbed my attention.