With How Should We Live? Propositions for the Modern Interior, The Museum of Modern Art examines a range of environments—domestic interiors, exhibition displays, and retail spaces—with the aim of exploring the complex collaborative partnerships, materials, and processes that have shaped the modernist interior.
The exhibition focuses on specific interior spaces from the 1920s to the 1950s. Rather than concentrating on isolated masterworks, attention is given to the synthesis of design elements within each setting, and to the connection of external factors and attitudes—aesthetic, social, technological, and political—that these propositions express in material and spatial form.
Bringing together a number of recent acquisitions by the Department of Architecture and Design of work by major women architect-designers, How Should We Live? looks at several designers’ own living spaces and at frequently neglected areas in the field of design, including textile furnishings, wallpapers, kitchens, temporary exhibitions, and promotional displays. Noted partnerships featured in the exhibition will include Lilly Reich and Mies van der Rohe, Grete Lihotzky and Ernst May, Eileen Gray and Jean Badovici, Aino and Alvar Aalto, Charles and Ray Eames, Florence Knoll and Herbert Matter, and Charlotte Perriand and Le Corbusier.
Divided into three chronological groupings—the late 1920s to the early 1930s, the late 1930s to the mid-1940s, and the late 1940s into the 1950s—the exhibition brings together over 200 objects in total, but highlights a number of large-scale interiors by the aforementioned designers, including Lihotzky’s Frankfurt Kitchen (1926–27), Reich and Mies’s Velvet and Silk Café (1927), and Perriand and Le Corbusier’s kitchen from the Unité d’Habitation (1954) and study bedroom from the Maison du Brésil (1959).
Organized by Juliet Kinchin, Curator, with Luke Baker, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Architecture and Design, MoMA