The Boston Globe profiled Sam Aquillano and Derek Cascio, two young Boston designers (Aquillano for Bose, Cascio for Philips) who are starting a new design museum in the city. The catch: Design Museum Boston doesn’t really exist. It’s hard to build a brand-new museum these days, but easy to start a pop-up–hey, the recession’s done something good–so that’s what Aquillano and Cascio are doing, taking over unused storefronts to display local work.
Does Boston need a design museum? Sure. Remember the great show of Massachusetts design at Kiosk, or just check out the work coming out of MIT. The Globe article mentions that household products from Swiffer to Rock Band are Boston-born. But does it need two? The Boston Society of Architects is planning its own museum in its new office space, which opens next year. Aquillano and Cascio say Design Museum Boston is different because it puts design back into the world (via empty storefronts) instead of ensconcing it in academia like London’s Victoria and Albert (above).
“We’ve been to all of them,” Aquillano says of the museums. “And this is where Design Museum Boston will differ. There is no context around the objects shown in those museums. We want to tell the story behind the objects that people own.”
Pop-up stores are, well, popping up all over, and more than a few have been focused on design, like John Morefield’s architecture advice stand or the Design.Starts.Here architecture studio that showed up in lower Manhattan earlier this winter. Groups like the American Design Club hold pop-up exhibitions of home-grown work in stores and galleries around the city. The idea is to raise awareness of good design (and save some designers’ careers at the same time) by democratizing it. It’s a touchy subject, of course–many architects loathe what Morefield is doing, saying he’s cheapening the profession by popularizing it, but it’s hard to argue against filling those depressingly empty storefronts with some sort of life. All the better if it’s well designed.
The museum launches on March 16 with a party and exhibition in Boston, and the first real show opens this fall at storefronts in Downtown Crossing.