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MoMA permanent collection – softwall by molo
 

the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), established in 1929 in New York City, was founded to be a leading institution dedicated to modern and contemporary art. Its founders envisioned it as a dynamic center that would showcase the most influential works across art movements.

MoMA’s permanent collection is a treasure trove containing over 200,000 works of modern and contemporary art. It includes everything from paintings and sculptures to photography, film, and design. The collection includes masterpieces by Van Gogh, Picasso, Matisse, Warhol, and Pollock, among others.

“The Museum of Modern Art is dedicated to being the foremost museum of modern art in the world. The museum manifests this commitment by establishing, preserving, and documenting a Collection of the highest order that reflects the vitality, complexity, and unfolding patterns of modern and contemporary art.”

MoMa Collections Management Policy, April 2020

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the Museum of Modern Art acquired the first version of Stephanie Forsythe + Todd MacAllen’s softwall in 2005. Tissue paper softwall wasn’t available commercially or even seen publicly in 2005, but after reviewing the creation process, MoMA decided that softwall’s creation date would be 2003.

the textile softwall variation was acquired by MoMA in 2006. Forsythe + MacAllen had been working to incorporate a more durable and luminous material from the beginning, but it took several years of tedious trial and error before textile softwall could go into production.

Rough Cut Design Takes a Sharp Edge · MoMA · New York Photo credit: Thomas Griesel · Rough Cut: Design Takes a Sharp Edge exhibition · MoMA, New York · November 26, 2008 – January 4, 2010

"This elegant space divider combines simple, modest materials in an innovative way to create a compelling and beautiful design object. The Paper Softwall is made of four hundred layers of translucent white paper in a honeycomb structure that strengthens the fragile material. The partition’s many paper layers are bound together at each end by wool felt covers, which fold to create handles for manipulating the wall while it is stretched open and create a protective covering when the wall is collapsed to be stored. Standing six feet, six inches tall, the Paper Softwall limits sight lines and dampens sounds. Lightweight and flexible, the freestanding wall can be arranged in numerous ways, empowering users to reconfigure open space into more intimate provisional enclosures."

Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art , p. 216.

having the softwall selected by curators for the Architecture and Design collection was one of our great honours as designers because of the rigour and vision of the MoMa. Says Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator, “There are no hard and fast rules, but there are several criteria that come into play in the discussion:

1) Form and Meaning - The formal, visual qualities of an object are tied to beauty, an important prerequisite in an art museum, but also an elusive and subjective one. Objects are expected to communicate values that go well beyond their formal and functional presence, starting with the designer’s idea and intention. The best design embodies the designer’s original concept in the finished object in a transparent and powerful way.

2) Function and Meaning - The appreciation of function has changed dramatically in the last few decades. Some objects are designed to elicit emotions or inspiration, and these intangible purposes are also considered part of their functional makeup.

3) Innovation - Good designers transform the most momentous scientific and technological revolutions into objects that anybody can use. With this in mind, curators often look for objects that target new issues or address old ones in a new way.

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4) Cultural Impact - MoMA has always privileged objects that, whether mass-marketed or developed experimentally in a designer’s workshop, have the power to influence material culture and touch the greatest number of people. Their impact can either be direct–effective the minute they are purchased and used–or unfold over time through the inspiration they give to other designers.

5) Process - Curators don’t stop at the object–they also take into account its entire life cycle as a product. This includes the way it is designed and built and the economy of means in its production, distribution, and use; the way it addresses complexity by celebrating simplicity; its impact on society and the environment; and the way it ages and dies.

6) Necessity - Here is the ultimate litmus test: if this object had never been designed and produced, would the world miss it, even just a bit? As disarming as this question might seem, it really works. Try it at home."

Publication excerpt from INSIDE/OUT, MARCH 24, 2010; by Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator, Department of Architecture and Design

softwall flexible partitions with LED-molo-2560x960
 

in 2009, MoMA acquired the third iteration of softwall. Changes included new magnetic end panels, integrated LED lighting, and a revised purpose-made textile. This version satisfied the design partner’s original vision of a simple, pure sculptural object.

“The word “soft” in the wall’s name describes its delicate material composition, but it also refers to its structural capacity to be stretched and compressed to create a range of forms not possible with more rigid, fixed partitions. In addition, the multiple accordion folds of translucent paper in the wall’s surface absorb light and emit a hazy glow, imparting a subtle softness to interior space. Pliable and luminous, the Paper Softwall is an inventive and economical architectural device.”

Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art , p. 216.

spazio krizia 2560 x 960 molo with Ingo Maurer Spazio Krizia, Milan · 2008
 

molo featured in over 100 galleries and institutions

over three decades, molo has been studying the concept of flexible spacing making and its impact on how we live and work. And since being selected by the MoMA, multiple iterations of the groundbreaking softwall have been put to use and featured in over 100 institutions around the world, including the Nobel Prize museum.

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