USA Architecture & Design Panel for 2006

Ming Fung

Hodgetts + Fung, Los Angeles, CA

Paola Antonelli

Acting Chief Curator of Architecture and Design, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY

Carlos Jimenez

Carlos Jimenez Studio, Houston, TX

Ted Landsmark (Chair)

President and CEO, Boston Architectural College, Boston, MA

Elizabeth Smith

Chief Curator and Deputy Director for Programs, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL

Statement by Carlos Jimenez

Contemporary architecture and design are at the center of a global surge. Opportunities spring up in rapid counterpoint to a fast-paced and highly charged world as designers eagerly shape, translate, and transform opportunities across their individual disciplines. One can speak not only of a thriving culture of design but also of a vital cultural phenomenon fueled by a boundless exchange of information and by the public’s ever-expanding awareness of the value of design. Architecture and design are infused with a new sense of urgency, mission, and scale, whether the practitioner is addressing the delicate intricacies of a small, utilitarian object or the vast complexities of a dynamic public space. Quality, imagination, and context continue to be the critical guidelines by which architecture and design are measured in this time of abundance, accelerated production, and irremediable saturation. Quality emerges from the strength and clarity of the work’s resolution, imagination probes the tenses of invention, and context becomes the indispensable start and continuity of any work.

These thoughts come to mind when considering the work of this year’s inaugural USA Fellows in Architecture and Design, Masamichi Udagawa and Sigi Moeslinger, partners in Antenna Design. One can say that their ten-year output clearly exhibits an admirable mastery in merging quality, imagination, and context. What they have also achieved is that rare condition of poetry in the midst of a setting often ruled by an emphasis on quantity over quality, consumable gadgetry, and the pursuit of effect for effect’s sake. Antenna’s work illustrates how technology and poetry converge as if guided by mirrored hands. Take three of their most memorable works—Cherry Blossoms, Emperor, and Civic Exchange—in which we can find, among many other moments, a luminous cylinder emitting the rustle of cherry blossoms; a mesmerizing atlas of color and memory; a beautifully crafted coat hanger whispering evanescent outlines of digital clothing; the sensual spill of simplicity; and an urban kiosk offering access, versatility, and playfulness as civic coordinates. We are reminded that design is an all-encompassing sensorial activity, and thus we never tire of surveying all traces of its irresistible humanity.