Useful Beauty: Design Highlights from the Permanent Collection
February 29, 2020 – July 26, 2020
This exhibition highlights the beauty and creativity of modern design with a broad selection of decorative and functional objects drawn primarily from GRAM’s collection. Design inhabits our daily lives, in our homes, classrooms, work environments – anywhere there are objects created by human beings. This exhibition encourages deeper consideration of these familiar objects, prompting questions about the choices we make as consumers and the decisions made by designers, who strive to create designs that solve problems both practical and aesthetic, making the world around us more productive, efficient, and beautiful. The exhibition includes written contributions from a wide variety of individuals, including designers, those who intimately know particular objects, and others with enlightening opinions of the designs on view.
Many objects in the exhibition were given to GRAM by the Kravis Collection and are on view for the first time. The collection encompasses furniture, ceramics, glass, electronics, and other fascinating objects created for domestic or industrial use. George Kravis built a collection of over four thousand industrial and domestic design objects during his lifetime, with an emphasis on European and American design after 1930. Kravis, who passed away in 2018, believed in the mission of museums to collect design and make objects available to the public through exhibitions and educational programming. He expressed his wish that his collection be given to museums, such as GRAM, that would appreciate this vision. Kravis recognized West Michigan’s crucial role in the design and production of modern design and was particularly interested in making GRAM a beneficiary of his collection.