Designing Peace_Museum of Craft and Design SF_#097_©Henrik Kam 2023

“Designing Peace” Exhibition

Pursuing Peace

Fostering progress through craft and design.

Design for Change

Organized by Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum and presented by the Museum of Craft and Design, “Designing Peace” examines the transformative influence of design in the pursuit of peace. The exhibition showcases innovative proposals, initiatives, and interventions from designers, artists, and organizations around the world as they attempt to navigate the core causes of global conflict, and confront issues such as socioeconomic gaps and environmental degradation. “Designing Peace” aims to inspire dialogue and provoke questions, ultimately extending an invitation to envision a world molded by creativity, justice, and unity. The exhibition is a testament to the enduring relevance of its subject—a vivid portrayal of how design can drive impactful and lasting change.

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“Designing Peace,” 2023-2024, Museum of Craft and Design. Organized by Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. Photo by Dallis Willard.
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“Designing Peace,” 2023-2024, Museum of Craft and Design. Organized by Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. Photo by Henrik Kam.
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“Designing Peace,” 2023-2024, Museum of Craft and Design. Organized by Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. Photo by Dallis Willard.
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“Designing Peace,” 2023-2024, Museum of Craft and Design. Organized by Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. Photo by Dallis Willard.

Enduring Symbols

In bringing the “Designing Peace” Exhibition to San Francisco, JENSEN embarked on an exploration of peace iconography, seeking to craft an experience that connects to the City’s enduring legacy of anti-war protest and peace advocacy. The exhibition’s focal point emerged as an oversized display table taking the form of the classic graphic peace sign. The expansive display deliberately pushes visitors to the edge of the gallery, eliciting a subtle sense of unease that mirrors the exhibition’s subject. The large scale of the iconic emblem transcends its literal meaning, allowing visitors to experience it in a more abstract, contemplative way.

Peace Pins
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“Designing Peace,” 2023-2024, Museum of Craft and Design. Organized by Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. Photo by Henrik Kam.
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“Designing Peace,” 2023-2024, Museum of Craft and Design. Organized by Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. Photo by Henrik Kam.

Crafting Peace

The fabrication of the peace sign display table necessitated meticulous planning. Because of its considerable size, the tabletop was designed as separate pieces. JENSEN developed detailed panel drawings for each curved segment, which were then precisely cut using a CNC router before being carefully assembled on-site. The table legs, sourced from recycled wood used in previous exhibitions, intentionally remain exposed to reflect the museum’s craft-centered mission. Once “Designing Peace” concludes, the display materials will be repurposed in future museum exhibitions, ensuring a sustainable second life.

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Take Action

Through a thorough cataloging and planning process, JENSEN thoughtfully curated each exhibition piece to maximize engagement. A strategically positioned “Take Action” wall at the exhibition’s start and end serves as a catalyst, urging visitors to not only absorb information but to also translate the exhibition’s powerful message into impactful, tangible efforts. As visitors navigate the circular peace sign, a dynamic interplay unfolds between the artwork and the viewers. Additional interactive elements, like a crafting and reflection table in the rear gallery, further encourage visitors to actively participate in the creative process of fostering peace. The result is an immersive experience where participation becomes a form of expression, in direct alignment with the exhibition’s theme.

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“Designing Peace,” 2023-2024, Museum of Craft and Design. Organized by Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. Photo by Dallis Willard.
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“Designing Peace,” 2023-2024, Museum of Craft and Design. Organized by Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. Photo by Dallis Willard.
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“Designing Peace,” 2023-2024, Museum of Craft and Design. Organized by Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. Photo by Dallis Willard.
MCD Peace Sign Sketch
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“Designing Peace,” 2023-2024, Museum of Craft and Design. Organized by Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. Photo by Henrik Kam.
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“Designing Peace,” 2023-2024, Museum of Craft and Design. Organized by Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. Photo by Dallis Willard.
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“Designing Peace,” 2023-2024, Museum of Craft and Design. Organized by Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. Photo by Dallis Willard.
Type
Arts
Client
Museum of Craft and Design
Location
San Francisco

Architects

Project Leads
Mark Jensen
Christina Kull
Project Team
Chenyu Huang

Consultants

Client Exhibition Leads
Ariel Zaccheo, Curatorial Director
Jeremiah Barber, Lead Preparator
Ken Edwards, Contractor and Preparator
Exhibition Organizer
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
Cynthia E. Smith, Curator of Socially Responsible Design
Caroline O’Connell, Curatorial Assistant
Graphic Design
Studio Hinrichs with in-kind support by Linda Mihara of Paper Tree

Contractor

Tabletop CNC Routing
One Hat One Hand

Photographer

Dallis Willard
Henrik Kam
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