Living with American design

No matter how you may choose to define it, design is somewhere, somehow part of your daily routine. Sophisticated and possibly expensive if you’re an aficionado or just simple and affordable, something you never really think about, it might be lying on your table or cooling in your fridge. And chances are that some of it comes from the United States. The importance of American design is currently on display at the Hellenic American Union (HAU), where «Made in the USA» presents design through a variety of familiar symbols: how we eat, dress and communicate with each other, for instance. They are also symbols of one country’s power to produce and spread the word. Celebration The exhibition celebrates 50 years of the highly active Hellenic American Union and is organized in collaboration with the Thessaloniki Design Museum. Curated by the latter, the show brings together objects designed by distinguished members in the field, including furniture by Charles and Ray Eames and Eero Saarinen, a round thermostat by Henry Dreyfus as well as works by Raymond Loewy and Frank Gehry, among others, while the Greek element is represented by Nikos Zografos and Christos Giannakos, both of whom work in the USA. Objects, everyday items and posters point to the sensational rise of design in the 20th century. Some of it may be old, but it is the kind of design that seems to never go out of fashion, or at least the collective psyche – think Hershey’s chocolate (1900), Converse All-Star Sneakers (1921) and Mickey Mouse (1928). How did it all come about? Design teamed up with science, took its cue from the rise of consumer society, transformed itself into industrial design and became a partner in the establishment of pop culture. At the HAU, design goes hand in hand with state-of-the-art technology, ranging from Apple Computer’s Macintosh home computer in 1984 to the iPod developed in 2001; instantly recognizable logos such as Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s original Superman comic; dealing with social issues such as the international symbol of HIV and AIDS awareness designed by the Visual AIDS Artists Caucus in 1991; press such as Time magazine, Andy Warhol’s Interview, Esquire, Life and The New Yorker; items defining a vibrant metropolis: Bloomingdale’s little, medium and big brown bag; I Love NY badges and a New York cup of coffee. «Say the words ‘Rolodex,’ ‘Coca-Cola,’ Levi’s,’ ‘Big Mac’ or ‘Zippo’ and an entire scene, along with sound and atmosphere springs to mind. These historic items are a sort of shorthand language for all, at work, at meals or during leisure time,» notes Stergios Delialis, the heart and soul of the Thessaloniki Design Museum. While covering much ground in terms of showing the variety of American design throughout the 20th century, the show also hints at how it might all be remembered in the near or distant future. Hellenic American Union, Kennedy & Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas Galleries, 22 Massalias, Kolonaki. «Made in the USA» runs to May 5. Admission is free. For more information, log onto

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