The Best Of MoMA Curator Paola Antonelli’s Reddit AMA

The MoMA Curator of Architecture and Design reveals favorite books and video games and thoughts on skeuomorphism and the future of design.

Yesterday, Paola Antonelli, senior curator of architecture and design at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art, let the masses pick her brain in a Reddit AMA . She revealed her favorite video game (Tempest), why she wants to acquire a Boeing 747, who to follow on Twitter (William Gibson), and her dreams of a future in which “designers rule.” So basically, she’s the coolest lady ever. Here are her best answers.


On the design trend she’s keen to follow in 2015:

I am really interested in synthetic biology and biodesign. I have been obsessed with it for a while, ever since I was preparing the exhibition Design and the Elastic Mind, which was all about design and science working hand in hand.

On the most absurd object she wants to acquire for MoMA:

I can tell you about an object that I want to acquire even though it is too big. Some people think it would be absurd. a 747. I do not want to have it here physically, I want it to keep on flying, still used by an airline. It would be a remote acquisition.

Antonelli made waves when she brought video games into MoMA’s permanent collection. Her favorite game:


It is Tempest. I love it because it is done with simple vector graphics and yet it is so amazingly complex and expressive.

Six people she finds fascinating on Twitter:

@brainpickings @alicerawsthorn @greatdismal @johnmaeda @SlaughterAM @notrobwalker

(Maria Popova of Brain Pickings, design critic Alice Rawsthorn, writer William Gibson, graphic designer John Maeda, New America CEO Anne-Marie Slaughter, writer Rob Walker)

One design book she considers a must-read:


Alice Rawsthorn’s Hello World

Should designers learn to code in school?

Absolutely. Learning at least the rudiments of coding is a matter of literacy–I am trying to learn some myself.

If she couldn’t be a curator, she would want to be…

A production designer for movies. Or a window dresser. Like Simon Doonan.

Pro-skeuomorphism or anti-skeuomorphism?



In the documentary Objectified, Antonelli mentions she thinks that in the future, designers will serve as resources for policy makers, functioning in society almost like philosophers of old. How close are we to getting there?

Just yesterday I finished a sci-fi short story that paints a world in which designers rule. That is in the 2060s. In the meantime, we are getting there, bit by bit.

Read the full AMA here.


About the author

Carey Dunne is a Brooklyn-based writer covering art and design. Follow her on Twitter.