Design Icons of the 20th Century Exhibition

Switch Modern's recent exhibition, Design Icons of the 20th Century: Included in Museums Around the World, opened in October 2019 and recently concluded in early March 2020.

The premise for organizing the exhibition was simple... find objects that were already in Switch Modern's showroom that were designed in the 20th century, still in current production, and were included in the permanent collection of one or more museums around the world.

As a working exhibition checklist emerged, various pieces of furniture and lighting started to cluster into groups that illustrated several prevailing styles or design movements within the 20th century. What resulted was an exhibition that included 24 manufacturers located in 10 different countries - the associated pieces collectively represented the work of 41 designers. Design Icons featured more than 50 objects from 1902 through 1999 presented in nine temporal vignettes including Josef Hoffmann's designs from the early 20th century, Cubism-informed French design from the late 20s and early 30s, Post War European design from the late 40s, Scandinavian midcentury from the late 50s, Pop and Radical design from the late 60s, Minimalism and High Tech from the early 1970s, and the high-concept designs of 90s postmodernism. The exhibition's small objects became wonderful microcosms of these design movements and were presented atop an illuminated "runway" within the center of the exhibition - the earliest object from 1924; the last from 1998. Several of the vignettes were visually annotated with the addition of patterned textiles through Maharam's Textiles of the 20th Century Collection.

All exhibition objects included an identification tag with a brief description as well as noting many of the museum collections in which it was represented including the Museum of Modern Art, NYC; Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC; Neue Galerie, NYC; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Victoria & Albert, London; British Museum, London; Design Museum, Zurich; Die Neue Sammlung, Munich. Several American museums (outside of NYC) including the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Dallas Museum of Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and Atlanta's High Museum of Art.

Over several upcoming blogs, we will be explore in detail the objects, designers, and manufacturers associated with each of these nine vignettes. If you are interested in learning more about this exhibition, please contact us at or 404-605-0196.