There are two shows currently on view at the Cooper-Hewitt right now that I really think everyone who can should go see: Fashioning Felt and Design for a Living World.
Fashioning Felt is the first that you will encounter upon entering the museum. I hadn't really seen anything made with felt before that I actually wanted...until now. I want EVERYTHING on display there, including a beautiful jacket made entirely from the process of heating pieces of felt together — no sewing required.
I would also be happy to live in the modern adaptation of a yurt, Palace Yurt Installation by Janice Arnold. This is a room fabricated of hand-made felt, and is meant to be a place of celebration. It is really an amazing sight, lighting from the surrounding windows creeps in through holes in the felt and there are even benches you can sit on and relax in the space.
The part that impressed me the most was how incredible felt is in general as a material. It can be made entirely from recycled materials, or re-made into new felt after it is worn, and extremely sustainable because the sheep can live off of naturally occurring plants rather than other farm animals whose food needs to be shipped in.
I left wondering where can I get my hands on a felting class so that I can start making things with this amazing material.
Upstairs you will find Design for a Living World. Ten influential designers were selected to create pieces based on a location specific sustainable material they were assigned and challenged to find a new use for.
Designers include Isaac Mizrahi, Abbott Miller, Kate Spade, and Maya Lin.
Each piece is given a roomy space featuring the finished piece, photographs of the natural landscape where the material is found, sketches, prototypes, and a video of the designer discussing the process.
It is a fascinating look at the designer's relationship with nature, materials and environmental responsibility. The exhibition is also a perfect example of what innovations in design can do for the world.
Fashioning Felt is up Through September 7, 2009 and Design for a Living World through January 4, 2010.
For more info visit the Cooper-Hewitt online