the u.s.a. economy may be in a recession, but these designs hit home like a tone of bricks. they're vibrant, wild, inovative and really exemplify how far we've all come since the last recession. fashion hit the runways last fall with spring has sprun fever and a techo-sheek "synth" lable.
Works from the Permanent Collection
Brazilian designers Humberto and Fernando Campana are known for using unlikely materials to create their furniture. Case in point: the Vermelha chair, left, made from 500 meters of red cotton rope. It's one of many pieces at this new Campana-curated exhibit at New York's Cooper-Hewitt museum. Also shown: mixed-media pieces from the 16th to 20th centuries, plus items from the duo's TransPlastic series, which examines the conflict between nature and man-made materials. Cotton rope aside, it looks like plastic's winning.
Campana Brothers Select: Works From the Permanent Collection, through Sept. 28, 2 E. 91st St., (212) 849-8400,
Design and the Elastic Mind
Technology without design doesn't amount to much (ever try using a pre-iPod MP3 player?), and this just announced exhibit at New York's Museum of Modern Art gives that often-prickly relationship the gallery treatment. Expect to see everything from vehicles and appliances to Susana Soares' "BEE'S,"
, left, a shapely glass bowl filled with live bees that can make a medical diagnosis based on a person's breath. No word on whether it can also be used as a Breathalyzer.
Design and the Elastic Mind, through May 12, Museum of Modern Art, 11 W. 53 St., NYC, (212) 708-9400, moma.org
Herman Miller for Second Life
Spend money on a chair you'll never actually sit in? Welcome to Second Life. And it gets better. Fed up with virtual people sitting on virtual knockoffs, the folks at Herman Miller are selling "official" versions of their furniture to be used in the virtual world. A name-brand Aeron will run you 500 Linden dollars, but we hear it's well worth it: Apparently those knockoffs are liable to give you a virtual backache.
Renova toilet paper
Portuguese paper company Renova manufactures napkins, handkerchiefs, and wet wipes, all in traditional colors. It makes toilet paper too, but here's where the going gets...weird. It comes in a variety of colors: red, orange, black, and green. It's also safe for the skin, entirely recyclable, and—so we're told—colorfast. Gag gift? Maybe, though we're told the stuff's actually popular at nightclubs. And, of course, among those who want to turn their bathrooms into them.