From the Spoon to the City: Design by Architects from LACMA’s Collection

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Curator Bobbye Tigerman

August 6, 2009 – January 24, 2010

When Italian architect Ernesto Rogers famously declared that architects want to design everything “from the spoon to the city,” he articulated their desire to design both buildings and interiors, a phenomenon that can be traced as early as the eighteenthcentury work of Scottish architect Robert Adam. Architects have frequently worked in a variety of fields—including furniture, product, graphic, information, and fashion design—and their ability to transcend disciplines has been a source of fertile experimentation and innovation.

Architects often design unique objects for specific architectural commissions, such as Rudolph Schindler’s furniture for the Shep family. In such cases, they are responsible for a completely integrated solution of building and furnishings. Architects also design objects in order to realize complex ideas on a smaller, more viable scale, as in the case of the Eames Storage Unit. The products of such efforts function as miniature buildings, conveying the architect’s ideals in a compact form.

Crossing disciplinary boundaries is a time-honored phenomenon that persists to this day, exemplified by the work of contemporary architects who design products and clothing. The advent of digital technologies has allowed them to use the same tools to create buildings and small objects alike, further breaking down the barriers between architecture and design.

Bobbye Tigerman, Assistant Curator, Decorative Arts and Design (2009)